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In Context #1 (Spring, 1999, p. 9); copyright 1999 by The Nature Institute

Ecological Agriculture Enters the Mainstream
Craig Holdrege

When articles arguing for a fundamental shift toward ecological thinking and practices in agriculture appear in major scientific journals like Nature and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, you know a tide is turning. The long-term consequences of high-input, symptom-neutralizing or enhancing agricultural practices are so glaring that they can no longer be ignored by scientists.

Whether it is herbicide or pesticide resistance in weeds and insects or fertilizer run-off polluting water, again and again "the attempted solution becomes the problem." W.J. Lewis (1997) and his colleagues—USDA scientists in Georgia—argue that the search for the "silver bullet" in pest management is futile. Rather, scientists and farmers must begin to view the farm as a total ecological system. Within this framework the primary question is no longer how to get rid of the pest as quickly as possible, but "why is the pest a pest." The pest reflects some imbalance in the whole and it's a matter of promoting inherent