Super Weeds on the loose? time for a new approach to farming.. and life

Via Roger Wolsey
on May 5, 2010
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Super Weeds?

They’re here.

In the same way that years of senseless and irresponsible use of anti-biotic medications, disinfectants and hand-soaps have resulted in the creation of anti-biotic resistant strains of “super germs” that we can do nothing about, years of irresponsible use of herbicides have inevitably resulted in super weeds.

This may not sound like a big deal at first to those of us who prefer organic diets, but the U.S. is the leading producer of food-stuffs in the world and it is very difficult to supply food stock to needy nations, let alone our own, without the use of what has been known as “modern farming” techniques.

It may be possible for organic farms to churn out that amount of food, but it would require dramatically increased labor of weeding thousands of hectacres of cropland here and across the globe.  This means increased costs at the consumer level and for charities and NGOs which try to feed hungry people.

I don’t have a degree in agronomy or agriculture, but some of you out there do.  Along with the problem of potentially out of control use of genetically modified plants, the decreased diversity of the species of seeds that are planted, this is a problem that may well make the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico look puny in comparison.

We’re a bright bunch of folks.  What are some realistic solutions to this developing situation?

One potential shift to consider might be away from large scale corporate farms and toward an increased number of smaller independent farms.  And, likewise, a shift away from teaching what has been our large scale way of doing things to the developing world and instead implementing increased micro-loans to families and villages in developing nations.

Another option might the creation of some sophisticated mechanical weeding machines, or, alternatively, inviting scores of immigrant workers to hand weed our miles of cropland.

There appear to be two levels that actually do need to be considered here:

* what techniques actually work and are effective, low cost, etc.?

* what options are politically viable?

and, since I’m an optimist,

* what options that are effective, but not politically viable, could become politically viable and how?

I invite us to ponder these things and discuss them the next time you share a meal with someone.


About Roger Wolsey

Roger Wolsey is a free-spirited GenX-er who thinks and feels a lot about God and Jesus. He’s a progressive Christian who identifies with people who consider themselves as being “spiritual but not religious.” He came of age during the “Minneapolis sound” era and enjoyed seeing The Replacements, The Jayhawks, Husker Du, The Wallets, Trip Shakespeare, Prince, and Soul Asylum in concert—leading to strong musical influences to his theology. He earned his Masters of Divinity degree at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, CO. Roger is an ordained pastor in the United Methodist Church and he currently serves as the director of the Wesley Foundation campus ministry at C.U. in Boulder, CO. He was married for ten years, divorced in 2005 and now co-parents a delightful 10-year old son. Roger loves live music, hosting house concerts, rock-climbing, yoga, centering prayer, trail-running with his dog Kingdom, dancing, camping, riding his motorcycle, blogging, and playing his trumpet in ska bands and music projects. He's recently written a book Kissing Fish: christianity for people who don't like christianity


2 Responses to “Super Weeds on the loose? time for a new approach to farming.. and life”

  1. Roger Wolsey says:

    Could it be, and dare I say this, that developments such as this, though they may lead to not feeding millions of the worlds' people – might actually be a good thing for the world? I am an advocate for HIV prevention, anti-Malaria bed nets, and I know full well that we currently have the ability to feed the world's human population if politics weren't in the way. I give money to the Heifer Project every year. I don't like knowing that a significant portion of the world's population survive on the equivalent nutritional intake of 2 ounces of rice per day. But….. could it be that the best thing for the world (including the human population and the larger environment) would be to see a dramatic reduction in the world's human population? That sounds cold and heartless though. However, from what I understand, the earth cannot sustain over 4 billion people on the planet and we're well on our way to 8 billion. Perhaps, like herds of deer who thin themselves out when they over-consume their resources, we humans need to thin ourselves by experiencing a massive die off.

    Tragically, such a die off would be disproportionately people who live in the poorest nations and it would arguably be allowing a preventable genocide to take place. Messy stuff this.

  2. roger wolsey says:

    let me restate that last sentence, "Tragically, such a die-off would disproportionately *impact* people who live in …."