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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Listener Letters

Air Date: Week of

Listeners tell us via electronic mail what they think about last week's program on sustainable agriculture in Cuba.


CURWOOD: And now it's time to hear from you, our listeners. Our report last week on Cuba's bold gamble with organic agriculture, including biological pest controls and a return to the plow and oxen, brought a number of listener comments by e-mail.

Chris Bobbit wrote from Indiana to thank us for having the nerve to say something good about Cuba. "I suppose you'll get lots of flack," writes Mr. Bobbit. "Maybe it's time the US learned a thing or two. It's high time people give credit where credit is due, and organic farming is an imperative for our long-term survival."

And there was this from Steve Sohn in Brooklyn, New York, who listens to WNYC. "I teach politics and government, and the manner in which we are doing everything short of another blockade to discomfort Fidel Castro cannot help but make me think of how we became involved in Latin American politics on the side of United Fruit. Instead of recognizing the steps taken in the direction of earth-friendly agriculture, we are trying to bring Cuba's accomplishment to naught. We should be encouraging this remarkable experiment by helping these people eat while they await the fruition of their project."

But there was also this. Jack Aubert, a listener to WETA in Washington, wrote, "To depict Cuba's forced return to primitive agricultural methods as a virtue is somewhere on the order of praising walking to work as good for your health because you broke the car. I'm willing to admit that given the right circumstances, like good soil, sufficient water, hard work, and planning, you can grow food effectively in a labor-intensive way without relying on machinery or industrial inputs. But we would all be a lot poorer. Because more people would have to be tending smaller plots of land, the yield per person would be down. Do we want to aspire to more manual labor, fewer conveniences, less variety and less leisure time? Cuba is the last place you would want to experiment with these techniques," Mr. Aubert continues. "Without an organically functioning economy, true prices and usable money, nothing will work properly, and it will be impossible to tell if the work they are doing is useful or simply occupational therapy." Thank you, Mr. Aubert, and all of you who write and call. Your comments are always welcome here at Living on Earth.



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