Wednesday, 23 February 2022

Slipping Past - again the glyphosate issue

 22/02/2022 - a date in the balance... Amateur numerology aside, it's also a date that has just frustrated me a lot. Because of a radio news article on our national broadcaster. About farming. And careful choices of words.

Bullshit Makes Good Fertiliser

According to the report, farmers who've just had a bumper wheat crop and are now in the process of getting ready for a winter crop, are (as farmers are especially good at being) pessimistic. (cf: "We'll All Be Ruined Said Hanrahan"

Apparently the cost of glyphosate is going to ruin these farmers, the interviewer spoke sympathetically to the farmer they were interviewing, and there was a bit of background on how glyphosate prices have been affected by COVID-19 issues, then back to the topic of how poorly this affected the outcomes for farmers.

Oh hmmm, that article on glyphosate prices . . . Umm isn't that Roundup? Of course it is. And of course that particular dirty word is absolutely not mentioned even once in the interview. Also not mentioned even once in the interview is how poorly Roundup affects outcomes for consumers. 

The stuff is according to most opinions these days toxic and carcinogenic and builds up in our system. It was once claimed that the herbicide would get washed off the crop - until it was pointed out that glyphosate is a systemic poison, i.e. it works within the plants' biological systems not on the outside of them.

Then it was claimed that it only has a short half-life and the time from spraying the paddocks before planting to when it was turned bread gave plenty of time for the herbicide to be eliminated. Turns out that was grade A bullshit too. Firstly, the half-life is longer than claimed, then too the sheer amounts applied meant that for half-life to reduce the toxin to negligible proportions meant that you'd need longer, and then - finally - the primary claim of how long the stuff was applied before harvesting was also bullshit because almost every farmer applied at least one second treatment, just a few days before harvesting, to dry the crop on the stalk and make harvesting more efficient. 

And when there's so much bullshit used to keep a product in use, you know big things are at stake. Farmers under pressure to produce the crop as cheaply as possible. The supermarkets whose huge bottom line might lose some value. The agri-chem industry that probably feels that one tiny crack will bring their stonewalling down and they'll get sued by pretty much the whole world. 

And there was even talk of banning Roundup just a few years back. Surely farmers back then could have 'read the room' and realised that Roundups' days were limited? And so maybe they should start looking for alternative herbicides and pesticides that aren't implicated in death and cancer and banned in quite a few countries by now?

But as usual, the easy way out is what was taken again this time, farmers muttering direly that the price of the winter crops are going to be higher, which is exactly the same thing they said would happen if they couldn't use Roundup. Seems like the consumer's screwed if they do and more screwed if they don't. 

There ARE alternatives

Look - let's accept a few things, okay? Life was always expensive to maintain. We've had a lucky fifty to seventy years where it wasn't, but instead of banking that we kept letting the population explode and chewed up every scrap and skerrick of that abundance and - well, here we are.

Life's no longer quite so good, prices are going up and - I hate to break it to you - are going to keep going up. And that's a result of supply and demand because the Earth consists of just so many billions of acres of useable land, and the days of one human having access to the resources of several million acres of the planet are over.

And most of us are a bit fussy - choosing only the best cuts and leaving the rest to go to pet and livestock food, wanting seasonal vegetables all year round, and water-and-land-intensive ones at that because why would we want to eat weeds? (True BTW. Some so-called weeds are sought after in less-fortunate countries and are more nutritious than the intensive farmed alternative crop we prefer instead.)

So - what are the alternatives?

Well, all herbicides and pesticides are 'icides - they're toxic, they're made to kill things, things like weeds and insects, and because we have a few things in common with moths and moulds, like a seriously large chunk of DNA and sensitivity to these same toxins, also US. Everything from the lowliest one celled organism to the largest blue whales (and that includes us in there somewhere) are Earth Lifeforms. 

Seems weird to be saying that, but perhaps this is the one thing we really, really, need right now, to become us aware - really aware - that we are all interdependent inhabitants of (and parts of) this planet. Every part needs every other part, and balance.

Us consuming everything in sight was probably okay a million years ago when there would have been fewer that 200,000 of us across the whole planet. But with close to nine billion of us, we've hit peak Earth.

And then there's pandemic. . .

Coronavirus can be seen as a balancing. Because populations get ever larger, there are more and more people that are forced further out into what was previously natural habitat. They are generally in no position to be choosy about how they make a living, so they either consume or catch kill and sell bushmeat. Or they just have to live someplace that we didn't live in before and there are a few wild animals that have a virus. And normally we'd never come in contact with that animal and its passenger.

But our expansion forced that meeting, however it actually came about. And it's  working to reduce our numbers just as other plagues and pandemics did in the past. Only now, we're better at winning pandemics, and so the virus is still mutating among the people that can't or won't have vaccinations and quarantines. 

So - we shouldn't try to cover the whole Earth. We shouldn't close our minds to alternative foods, clean energy sources, and clean technologies. We should make it possible for every living person to live a life without desperation and with access to shelter, water, and food - and vaccinations and health programs including birth control.

If we do all that, we might just survive.

Sunday, 13 February 2022

1st Update in 2022

Oh the oddness! I seem to have gained a weird widget in the page code that sends you to the footer. I vaguely remember adding it but it's getting added to! Also, an aggregator site you can check for only updated posts. 

(Because I'm pretty much solo on all these blogs, also doing the occasional Youtube or Twitch video, not all my sites get regular updates, so an aggregator site presents the most recent for you to have a read of)

It'll appear in the footer once I have it set up, it's still a WIP.