4:00 p.m., Roundtable discussion, SCI 1022, Soil and Soil Health
7:30 p.m., Public Talk, JRC 101, Capitalism and Agriculture
Numerous social and ecological problems arise from the way that agriculture functions within capitalist economies. These include hunger in the midst of plenty, lack of nutrient cycling, poor rotations, inhumane raising of animals on factory farms, poor treatment of farm and slaughterhouse labor, and environmental pollution with pesticides and fertilizers. These are outcomes of a system in which the overriding goal and motivating force is profit. In such a system, decisions that makes sense from the narrow economic point, are frequently ecologically and socially irrational.
Fred Magdoff is Emeritus Professor of Plant and Soil Science at the University of Vermont. His interests range from soil science to agriculture and food (science, production, economics, policy) to the environment to the U.S. economy. His science research was on ways to improve the soil fertility, especially focusing on the critical role of soil organic matter. He oriented his agricultural outreach activities to explaining the application of ecological principles to food production. He is the co-author of Building Crops for Better Soil: Sustainable Soil Management and What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know About Capitalism. He is co-editor of Agriculture and Food in Crisis: Conflict, Resistance, and Renewal. Creating an Ecological Society is due out later this year.