Food & Agriculture 101

Our food and agriculture work advances the goal of “Healthy Food and Farms.” By this, we mean a food system that:

  • Produces an abundance of healthy food that is available and affordable for all;
  • Preserves and regenerates our land, air and water for future generations;
  • Supports thriving farms and rural communities.

What do we mean by healthy food?

In the United States, we don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. In their place, we consume large amounts of processed foods, meat, and sugary drinks. Serious illnesses like heart disease, stroke, hypertension, and diabetes have been tied to this unhealthy diet. Research shows that by growing and eating more fruits and vegetables, we could prevent many of the human and economic costs of these diseases.

What are healthy farms?

Healthy farms work with natural systems rather than against them, using modern, science-based practices to meet challenges such as pest control and drought. Healthy farms can grow enough food to meet our needs without sacrificing the long-term productivity of our farmland.

How could U.S. farm policy help make healthy food and farms a reality?

Currently the federal government spends billions of dollars on subsidies for growers of “commodity crops” like corn and soybeans—the same crops used in the processed foods that are making us sick. Meanwhile, farmers who want to grow healthy foods face policy roadblocks. By removing these obstacles and making modest, targeted investments in programs that will help make healthy food available and affordable for all Americans, farm policy could become part of the solution.

What is industrial agriculture?

Industrial agriculture currently dominates U.S. food production. It revolves around monoculture—the planting of one crop on the same land year after year—and meat production in large, polluting facilities called CAFOs. This approach to farming depends on chemical inputs such as synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and antibiotics. As a result, industrial farming is so damaging to the environment and public health that it is unsustainable in the long term.

But isn’t industrial agriculture necessary to feed the world?

No. There is plenty of evidence showing that healthy farm methods can be just as productive as industrial methods, if not more so. And by preserving the resources that agriculture depends on, healthy farms help us ensure that our grandchildren—and their grandchildren—will also have enough to eat. Rather than industrial solutions to “feed the world,” we should focus on developing sustainable, scientifically supported food systems that enable the world’s communities to feed themselves.

What is the UCS position on genetic engineering (GE)?

We recognize that GE has some potential benefits, but its agricultural uses have fallen far short of their promise—and have led to some serious unintended consequences, such as the epidemic of “superweeds” caused by overuse of Monsanto's Roundup Ready products. We support more careful regulation of GE products, along with increased public investment in cost-efficient alternatives like crop breeding and agroecological farming.

We Need Your Support
to Make Change Happen

We can transform the U.S. agricultural system to prioritize investments in healthy foods and farms —but not without you. Your generous support helps develop science-based solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.