Prince Charles on Impending Agricultural Doom

Prince Charles — heir to the throne of England — has made a hobby of expressing opinions on everything from architecture to nanotechnology. For the most part, he lacks the requisite expertise to expound upon these topics, and so he often ends up saying goofy things that are promptly refuted by people who do have the relevant expertise. But that doesn’t seem to slow him down. One of his favourite themes is the evils of science and technology, and the necessity of living in “harmony” with nature, whatever that means.

Here he goes again:

Industrial farming puts ecosystems at risk of collapse, warns Prince Charles

Prince Charles has warned that the world’s ecosystems face collapse because of a dangerous over-reliance on industrial farming systems that work against nature rather than with it.

In a speech to launch a new sustainable farming project with the supermarket chain Morrisons, the Prince of Wales said farming needed to shift quickly to low-impact, organic and low-carbon methods to survive into the long term. The prince directly attacked farms that “treat animals like machines by using industrial rearing systems”….

“Collapse?” Seriously…collapse? I think there’s plenty of good reason to think that it would be good to find ways to use less fertilizer, less pesticide, and to reduce fossil-fuel inputs to agriculture generally. And if we’re going to keep raising animals for food, it would be a good thing to find more humane ways of doing so. But ecosystem collapse? Please.

Now, I’m sure Morrisons is glad to have such a high-profile advocate. But it’s worth noting that Charles’ views differ markedly from those of executives at Morrisons. His Royal Highness is a staunch defender of organic agriculture. According to him,

Sustainable farming does not rely upon artificial fertilisers and growth promoters, nor the prophilactic use of antibiotics….

And Morrisons?

Dalton Philips, the chief executive of Morrisons, said before the prince spoke that solely organic farming was not realistic, as it cost up to 40% more and was largely unaffordable for most consumers.

About Chris MacDonald

I'm a philosopher who teaches at Ryerson University's Ted Rogers School of Management in Toronto, Canada. Most of my scholarly research is on business ethics and healthcare ethics.
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