Saturday, Dec 16, 2017 | Last Update : 03:04 AM IST
Educator and writer Graeme Sait’s mission in life is creating a new agricultural paradigm for the world to improve human health.
Thirty-three countries this past year, and urgent about spreading the humus story. Soil health and nutrition farming is what he imparts and India, and the world, is in dire need with our top soil depleted with chemicals. As an educator, writer and man who wants to save the planet and its people, his book Nutrition Rules has been an international bestseller, republished seven times. His weekly blogs have thousands of followers. His cause: to tell humans about the indelible link between soil health and human health — we are what we eat and we eat from a soil that has been mineralised for decades and is the cause of auto immune diseases, cancer, Parkinsons, heart disease etc.
Graeme Sait, a New Zealander who lives on two demonstration farms in Queensland, walks the talk, while literally travelling millions of miles teaching the links between soil, human and planetary health. Fighting companies like Monsanto, treading a lonely path against lobbying and filled with angst, “It became my mission as I recognised in this climate change challenge that humus, which is the organic matter, and the soil is interconnected.”
Busy with three books now — one on prostate cancer, where he writes about how this biggest killer is indelibly connected with chemicals in agriculture, he is writing a book on nutrition farming that includes know-how from his four-day course (which sees full house). Sait is certain that if we do not act on the depleting soil health, human health will be a faint memory.
His fight is against pesticides, chemicals, genetically-modified food and the big culprit — glycphosate. “The biggest problem in India is the extractive approach to agriculture, the single most important thing for soil fertility is organic matter — humus, you need to return nutrients back to the soil. Farmers tend to strip it. Overall this take, take and take model and don’t give anything back is hurting humans irrevocably. Organic matter is the glue that holds the soil together, if you step outside the climate change challenge, Indian Professor Rattan Lal, a top climate change expert in the US, submitted a comprehensive body of research on this loss of our soil glue — humus. If you don’t give back to the soil, you can’t grow organic matter. It has been declining. That has become my mission as in this climate change challenge humus and soil are interconnected. The ugly truth, the health of humans, the world and soil is indivisible.”
His fight has seen him trade barbs with the world, endlessly spreading the word, sometimes with his life at risk. “There have been people who have had death threats... I sort of anticipated I will have issues but someone has got to do it. Someone has got to stand up and tell the story,” Graeme says.
Oddly enough, the Ted Ex speaker started his fight with Nutri-Tech Solutions 25 years ago. That in itself is an unusual inspiring story. He was a successful retailer then, his daughter Rachel had a serious accident. “My six-year-old daughter was hit by a car outside school, and horrifically injured. She was in a coma with massive brain injuries for three months, and fought for life and death, she stabilised and then suddenly things got worse. They said she couldn’t make it through the day. I am not conventionally religious, but I have no doubt of the existence of a God. I made a deal that should she survive, against ridiculous odds, I would do something of value for the rest of my life. Three minutes later, she came out of coma, that night I decided to learn and become an expert in soil and nutrition, and the whole concept of Nutri-Tech Solutions was formed the next day, that is my journey,” says the self-taught soil expert who has been consumed with soil science from then on.
The fight against Monsanto, chemical and pesticide giant who have been selling the quick yield story, is tough. His company imparts knowledge on how to restore soil and humus. If it is so simple why aren’t governments and people adapting to nutrition farming? “The main reason is the organisations involved, Monsanto has a turnover larger than Australia, tremendous lobbying power, 200 counsel lawyers, they’ll sue anyone against them. After a World Health Organisation report, the European Union decided they were not going to renew the license of glyphosate. Monsanto brought in lawyers and now they have four more years.
Consider this: The world is going to be sprayed for four more years. If you don’t have money you can’t do anything in this crazy world. Yet, there is a slow awareness, companies like Bayer have bought into the biological model, investing millions on microbial solutions. There is recognition, change is coming. We look at mineral balance and soil life, and in-field monitoring and soil testing. India and other countries have a MORE ON approach, literally putting more chemicals into our soil. We have an increasing body of evidence of growers who have been successful in their first season after following our guidelines, in India, grape growers in the Sahyadri, coffee growers in Chickamagalur, pomegranate and rice growers,” says Sait.
The son of the founder of Greenyard, which is the largest fruits and vegetable company in the world with a $6.5 billion turnover asked Sait to fly to Belgium to meet his father, and now he is training their people. “In every country, what started off as a trickle is coming up as a tsunami,” says the man who believes that the entire food chain in the US, Canada and South America is contaminated with genetically-modified food and glyphosate.
“There are findings that the chemical is found in breast milk in the US. WHO, end of last year, said that glyphosate is a definite animal carcinogen and a probable human carcinogen. There needs to be ban on genetically-modified food, and options other than glyphosate,” he adds.
Nutrition Rules saw Graeme interview people across the world doing innovative work in soil replenishment. “My first book was based on those interviews, and the prostate cancer one is specific — it has become the largest killer, it’s taken over from heart disease and cancer. The one based on nutrition farming covers my four-day course. How you live a longer healthier life,” says the man who is also behind the famed wellness festival Radiance in Australia, which covers the more human health, philosophical and spiritual angle, and it runs in conjunction with a large music festival.
His two farms steer clear of what is today the dominant nature of agriculture — get bigger or get out. No chemicals, soil and humus restoration. The NTS certificate today is 30,000 roughly. But it begs the question, can’t everyone see its advantages, “We were sold this chemical model — throw on nitrogen, it damages nutrition and depletes humus and humus, the most important single thing for soil fertility. The world is struggling with diseases, I call it the chemical experiment and it’s 10 decades old. Every year we put more and more chemicals onto our soil, onto our food and into our children, unfortunately. It’s the definition of unsustainable, an absolute bankrupt model. We have to change the way we are doing it. In a study in the US, of 14,000 school children, 700 rural, and 700 urban, they looked at the 13 most commonly found chemicals’ presence in their bodies. To their horror, researchers could not find a single child who did not have unacceptable levels of these chemicals according to FDA standards. The link between chemicals and leukaemia is proven, it’s terrible. I was talking to a billionaire who had lost three wives to cancer and he funded independent research looking at 10 chemicals and a 100 combinations for two years. The researched found three new class three carcinogens, which means he proved that the new compounds gave cancer to animals.”
Sait and his team are spreading this essential knowledge with an urgency as human demise is inevitable. A rare day when Graeme finds the time, he plays music, “I am a musician and I’ve got a music room with a grande piano — lots of instruments, I’m more of a singer though, I like all kinds of music, soulful, bluesy.”
Graeme and his partner Moira, who is half Indian, have four children each, so it’s quite a rambunctious bunch when the family gets together. His farm is his solace, where nutrition farming comes full circle, something he wishes everyone will adapt. Or perish. “It is beautiful, absolutely glorious, you are looking at two rain forest mountains and since we have been doing this without chemicals, all the wildlife has come back, it’s like a piece of heaven.”
Something we all should have in our world, a chemical free nutrition based agriculture, our own piece of heaven.
Message to India
Return to traditional methods.
Add humic acid which improves soil structure.
Organic matter is the key to everything
Compost, put back organic matter.
More intensive agriculture pours cow manure every year (10 tonnes) and this has created a huge excess of nitrogen that then ties up minerals, so growers are driving blind.
Have a few more testing technologies, field testing devices.
Government sponsored soil and leaf tests, leaf tests are a simple thing — asking the plant what it wants.
No mineral is an island and each reacts positively or negatively.
We are losing top soil, which is going to be zero. Nutrition farming is about minerals and microorganisms and humus and organic matter, and they are integral to soil health. The microorganism have had a harsh life in past decades, farming with chemicals seriously impacting the biology of our soil. The world’s most widely used chemical, glyphosate, is used right across your country. It’s a completely innocuous bio-degradable chemical and it is now starting to emerge that it is the worst chemical we have ever put into the environment, they are calling it the new DDT but it is much worse. It is affecting every aspect of life, it’s horrific for human beings and most do not know its MODE of ACTION — it cuts down a biochemical pathway, the shikimate pathway, which is integral to the immune systems of all living things except mammals. That is how Monsanto was able to get away with the launching round. Mammals don’t have this pathway, but there is a fatal flaw in the argument — we have a 30 foot digestive track or gut with 100 trillion microorganisms. Its health is linked to the health of our gut organisms. The problem is that our gut organisms have a shikimate pathway and if we shut down the immune system of these organisms, our own immune system, we have a compromised gut organisms and a compromised immune system. That is why, today, we see that the fastest growing group of diseases in the world are the autoimmune ones closely linked with glyphosate.