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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

July 17, 2013 at 11:38 AM

Agriculture robots in the field

Caring for farmers would be better

In the Salinas Valley, the lettuce capital of the world, entrepreneurs with the Silicon Valley company Blue River Technology are testing the Lettuce Bot, a boxy robotic machine that can thin fields of lettuce, a job that now requires detailed hand work by 20 farm workers. [AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez.]

In the Salinas Valley, the lettuce capital of the world, entrepreneurs with the Silicon Valley company Blue River Technology are testing the Lettuce Bot, a boxy robotic machine that can thin fields of lettuce, a job that now requires detailed hand work by 20 farm workers. [AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez.]

One effect of agriculture robots not mentioned in The Times’ cover story is how this mechanization may contribute to increasing corporate agriculture. [“Nimble ag robots may change dynamics of farming,” page one, July 15.]

Purchasing large, expensive pieces of equipment is not something small farmers and orchardists can usually afford. Nor would organic operations go for the increased use of certain chemicals, such as fertilizers.

How different our food landscape might be if the dexterity and speed of farmworkers, who help produce energy from food, was as valued as that of athletes who use energy to achieve their goals.

Instead of seeking the highest possible profit for produce, finding ways to improve life for farmworkers themselves might better serve consumers and our environment.

Rachael Levine, Burien

Comments | More in Economy, Environment | Topics: agriculture, consumers, corporate

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