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.
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