Bill Duesing Discusses Environmental Awareness for Earth Week

Patricia Oprea

On Thursday, April 25, Bill Duesing visited the university to discuss how food ties into the environmental cause. His presentation caused an individual to really think about what is in their diet, and how it can not only affect their own health, but the health of the planet.

Bill Duesing discusses environmental issues and energy at Earth Week event. (Photo by Patricia Oprea)

“Pay attention to the whole system,” Bill suggests. “Ask where things come from, where they go, and what happens in-between.” Duesing additionally spoke about energy and how it can be wasted; however, matter is always recycled.

Duesing has been working as an organic farmer, author and environmental artist for over 40 years. His efforts have been towards promoting local food sufficiency and organic agriculture. Duesing is also founding president of the CT Northeast Organic Farming Association and promotes environmental awareness through speeches, writing, work in the community and the media.

There is no smoke screen over his presentation at UNH. Duesing touched upon many aspects of our food system that often go unnoticed.

Monsanto is a big topic for Duesing. This American agricultural biotechnical company has done much more harm than good in the American food industry. Duesing discussed the toxic herbicides that this billion-dollar company has produced, such as “Agent Orange” and “PCB.” Agent Orange was used during the Vietnam War as part of the United States military’s chemical warfare program. It destroyed farmers’ crops in the countryside and forced mass migration to urban areas. PCBs were marketed by Monsanto from 1930 to 1977, and caused widespread pollution around the world. Many of Monsanto’s chemicals have been banned around the world. Some were banned in France due to bee die-offs. “We [Americans] are setting a bad example and everyone is following it,” declared Duesing.

In terms of the environment in U.S. politics, things have not been going so well either. Duesing mentioned how Ronald Reagan shut down energy conservation and organic agriculture efforts when he was elected into office. Reagan also removed the solar panels that a previous president had installed upon the roof.

Duesing’s presentation also included some alarming charts, facts and figures. As of 1988, we had only 5.1 billion people on the planet, but they were using 100 percent of the Earth’s capacity.

“Our food system is based off of 90 million acres of genetically modified plants,” said Duesing. He mentions how corn products and soybeans aren’t real food for animals, but were created for animal’s consumption because manufacturing is so cheap. Many decisions are made in the food industry with solely profit in mind. There is a desire to get the cheapest product without bringing its quality into consideration. Widespread unhealthy preservatives were introduced about 60 years ago in America, as society kept on the path towards modernization. People did not have the time to cook, so they needed fast, on-the-go products that had a later expiration date.

When discussing meat, Duesing spoke from the viewpoint of being a vegetarian. He said that it is a proven fact that a diet of grains and legumes can adequately supply humans with their daily recommended intake of protein. Most animals used for meat are kept in CAFOs, or confined animal feeding locations. These animals sit in their own waste, eat food not intended for their health and growth, and often never see the light of day. “Beef can be comprised of cows from different countries,” remarked Duesing.

He concluded the presentation with these words, “At stake is not only the health of our bodies, but the health of the Earth.”