Sunday, August 4, 2019

Integrating Sustainable Agriculture, Ecology, and Environmental Policy. :: Agricultural Ecological Environmental Essays

Integrating Sustainable Agriculture, Ecology, and Environmental Policy Whose business is it to create a sustainable agriculture? How will knowledge systems required to support such an agriculture be developed and implemented? These pragmatic questions are addressed by the 14 contributors to this book. If in fact the agricultural community is beyond the stage of understanding and internalizing the need for the concept of an agriculture that can be sustained, then this book offers concrete suggestions for the types of research objectives and social and political decisions that must be followed in order to make sustainable systems a reality. The book contains the proceedings of a July 1991 conference, sponsored by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), that drew participants from academia and U S. government agencies. The proceedings have also been available since 1992 as volume 2, no. 3, of the Journal of Sustainable Agriculture (JSA). The publisher of this book, Haworth Press, also publishes the JSA, and the decision to make these proceedings available in both formats is understandable, since this book will be of value to an important audience that is larger than the readership of the journal. As the name of both the conference and the book reflects, the contributors represent various disciplinary perspectives and professional experiences, being primarily ecologists (7) and environmental policy makers (5), with the addition of a sociologist and an educator. The chapters cover a range of topics that can be grouped into structural issues (federal policies, EPA program priorities, information and educati on systems) and research issues (participatory research methods, identification and monitoring of indicators of sustainability, and theories and methods for the design of sustainable agricultural systems at the watershed, landscape and soil levels). The authors are authoritative and succinct in exposing, analyzing and integrating the practical issues involved in fulfilling the objectives set forth over the past 15 years by various writers who can only be called "philosophers of agriculture." The thoughts of such individuals as Wendell Berry, Wes Jackson and Robert Rodale can be seen as passionate philosophizing by outsiders aiming to raise the level of consciousness of the scientific agricultural community about the unintended effects of their research paradigms and technologies. Such writing, while constituting a necessary initial component of the developing literature on sustainable agriculture, can be frustrating for those scientists accepting the need to address the environmental and sociological impact of agriculture, but less certain about how to do so.

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