Based on his own research and that of others, Francis Chaboussou argues that we should improve the health of our crops rather than using chemicals to eliminate pests and diseases, because healthy crops resist attack. Furthermore, chemical pesticides and fertilisers weaken plants, making them vulnerable to disease. This book calls into question the central arguments of industrial agriculture, sets out the theoretical foundation for ecological agriculture and quietly calls for a revolution. Chaboussou says: '...we need to overcome the idea of 'the battle': that is, we must not try to annihilate the parasite with toxins that have been shown to have harmful effects on the plant, yielding the opposite effect to the one desired. We need, instead, to stimulate resistance by dissuading the parasite from attacking. This implies a revolution in attitude, followed by a complete change in the nature of research. Work on plant physiology and its relationship to the resistance of the plant would be particularly important.'
As farming becomes more intensive and GM crops are promoted as another narrow 'techno-fix', Chaboussou's book reminds us that there are genuine alternatives to the chemical treadmill. The questions he raises about the impact of chemical pesticides and fertilisers on the health of plants urgently need to be investigated with new research. 'For me this is one of the most important books ever written on theoretical agriculture, as important as Albert Howard's Agricultural Testament.' Edward Goldsmith 'Almost all conventional chemical agricultural technologies create favourable conditions for the growth of pest and disease organisms: this book shows that much of the problem can be explained through increases in soluble nitrogen, amino-acid and sugar concentrations in the plant cells.'Dr Ulrich E Loening, biochemist and emeritus director, Centre for Human Ecology, University of Edinburgh 'A very important reference book ...every agronomist should have it on his desk.'
Jose Lutzenberger, agronomist and former Minister of the Environment, Brazil 'Although the ways in which synthetic fertilisers and pesticides affect plant physiology are not yet fully understood, Chaboussou's Theory of Trophobiosis gives a clear approach for how to deal with such problems in practice. Learning how to treat the sick and not the sickness is an effective tool for plant protection, substantially reducing problems with pests and diseases in the field, especially for those working in agriculture without chemicals.'Maria Jose Guazzelli, agronomist, Centro Ecologico/Ipe, Brazil