Monday, December 03, 2007

pandora's pantry

From Pandora's Pantry, by John Robbins,

Because so much Roundup is used on Roundup Ready crops, the residue levels in the harvested crops greatly exceed what until very recently was the allowable legal limit. For the technology to be commercially viable, the FDA had to triple the residues of Roundup’s active ingredients that can remain on the crop.(24) Many scientists have protested that permitting increased residues to enable a company’s success reflects an attitude in which corporate interests are given higher priority than public safety, but the increased levels have remained in force.

Advertisements and glossy brochures, seeking to convince farmers to plant Roundup Ready seeds, speak proudly of “clean fields”—clean in this usage meaning enormous fields with nothing growing in them but soybeans or corn or cotton or canola. This is intended as a selling point, and many farmers go for it, but it is an odd use of the word. The fields are actually so chemicalized that they are virtually sterile, and they bear no resemblance whatsoever to a healthy, flourishing, and biodiverse ecosystem. The soil, relatively void of decaying plant matter, and often impoverished of the worms, insects, and bacteria that feed off it, becomes completely dependent on chemical fertilizers.

Ironically, we’re spraying our fields and food with a toxic substance to make use of a sophisticated technology that is largely unnecessary. There are simpler mechanical ways to deal with weeds, including no-till farming, mulching, and companion cropping. But of course, none of these Earth-friendly methods can be patented and sold for profit, and none fit with massive mono-cultures and reliance on chemicals, so they hold no interest for Monsanto and the other agricultural chemical companies that dominate the business of genetic engineering.(25)

Read the whole article here.


Anonymous said...

Actually no-till farming is a main culprit of roundup abuse. The adoption of roundup and notill have gone hand in hand.

It has resulting in roundup resistant pigweed in the south.

A friend once witnessed a round-up salesman DRINK an oz of roundup to show its non-toxicity! Batshit crazy.

Anonymous said...

It is really sad to witness the farmer becoming hooked on the very thing that will pull him/her down, petro chemicals. The marginal yeilds that this stuff is supposed to get and the damage done to the soil and ecosystem is apalling. more and more stuff (land drugs) are used to get ever decresing yeilds. And if a farmer were to go cold turkey, he/she could not get a loan because the garentee of state of best practace was not followed. And the land would take out it's revenge for the abuse it has suffered and would take years some times to recover, or to get back to a resonable balance.
I am saddend by the way the soil takes so much abuse so monsanto can show a profet. There is a myth that we could not feed the amount of people that is fed today with out petro chemicals. I do not know for shure. But I feel in my bones that this is only a myth.
mark in Colo.

Shannon said...

A reason to look at the end of the oil age as a good thing. No oil, no nasty petrochemicals on our food! Even if our population must shrink- only time will tell... Truly frightening.
The picture is perfect to drive the point home- btw!

nulinegvgv said...

anonymous 1. I would argue that no-till farming alone is not to blame for round up abuse. There are ways to exclude and remove weeds from areas under cultivation without tilling. In addition to manually weeding (not my fav) you can deep mulch with gathered plant biomass and green mulch which just means growing something else so weeds won't take over. I think scale is much more to blame. If you only have a small, highly productive piece of land to care for, you can manage weeds with the strategies mentioned above. Only when you have acres and acres does that become more difficult and that's when chemicals start to look good.

anonymous 2. Peter Rosset, among others, has shown small scale, sustainable agriculture (which would mean organic) can feed more people per square foot than industrial agriculture using the chemicals you mentioned. It's much more about what we choose to eat than how we choose to grow it.

shannon I have been thinking a lot lately about the benefits of peak oil. There are plenty of them. The question is how soon will we accept reality and embrace these benefits. My fear is that it will take many Americans a long time and quite a bit of backlash before beginning to believe that this could end up being good for us all.