London: You once described modern technological agriculture as a form of “witchcraft.”
Mollison: Well, it is a sort of witchcraft. Today we have more soil scientists than at any other time in history. If you plot the rise of soil scientists against the loss of soil, you see that the more of them you have, the more soil you lose.
Mollison: I remember seeing soldiers returning from the War in 1947. They had these little steel canisters with a snap-off top. When they snapped the tops off, they sprayed DDT all over the room so you never saw any more flies or mosquitoes — or cats. [Laughs] After the war, they started to use those chemicals in agriculture. The gases used by the Nazis were now developed for agriculture. Tanks were made into plows. Part of the reason for the huge surge in artificial fertilizer was that the industry was geared up to produce nitrates for explosives. Then they suddenly discovered you could put it on your crops and get great results.
London: So the green revolution was a kind of war against the land, in a manner of speaking.
Mollison: That’s right. Governments still support this kind of agriculture to the tune of about $40 billion each year. None of that goes to supporting alternative systems like organic or soil-creating agriculture. Even China is adopting modern chemical agriculture now.