How to kill a CBD

Sun, 11 Sep 2011 04:47:23 PDT
Magnificent post Tom, thank-you!

> Message du 11/09/11 11:03
> De : "Tom Mitchell" 
> A :
> Copie à : 
> Objet : [pbs] How to kill a CBD
> I'm sure that most readers of the PBS list want to get back to talking about bulbs. The enthusiasm for growing plants - as many and as varied as possible - that shines from every post on this forum is its defining characteristic. My policy proposal would be to harness that enthusiasm to the ends of plant conservation by doing exactly what we are doing...but more of it. 

Several members of the forum have mentioned the UK's system of 'National Collections'. In principle this is a great idea but the Charity that runs the scheme, Plant Heritage is fatally damaged by its self-imposed slavish adherence to treaties such as the CBD and CITES. One national collection holder recently told me that he had collected seed of his favourite genus on a field trip in South America and had raised and was selling plants from this source. He was threatened with expulsion from the scheme because 'we cannot be seen to be condoning _____ breaking the law.' 

Why not establish an informal network of US-based 'International Collections'? The huge advantage to basing such an organisation in the USA is that it is the only large, wealthy country that has not signed the CBD. You can thumb your nose at it without fear of prosecution. Don't limit the number of collections per genus. The more, the better. Don't make the mistake of appointing a committee or allowing one to appoint itself. The committee will immediately become part of the establishment and want to insist on complying with the CBD and you'll be back to square one.

As for the CBD, my advice is to ignore it. As I said, treat it with the contempt it deserves. We cannot change it from within, so let's destroy it from without. 

With any new law it is wise to ask the Roman Senator Cassius's question - 'cui bono', who benefits? In the case of the CBD the answer is emphatically not biodiversity, for all the reasons previously discussed. In the case of the CBD, no-one benefits because it is toothless and routinely ignored. The would-be beneficiaries, however, are the bureaucrats, who get to attend conferences in fancy hotels to negotiate these things, their political masters, who can claim to their bone-headed electorates to be 'doing something' and the business interests that pull the puppets' strings. It is instructive to quote from an email I received while I was writing this from a friend who has worked all his life as a conservation biologist.

'You can imagine that, in 1992 [the 'Earth Summit', where the CBD was born], every nation state arrived at the table with strict instructions from their respective despots back at home to fight, tooth and nail, for their self-interests.  More, they are not to sign off on anything that will damage their development process, as they see it. Translated, this means that they don't want to sign off to anything that will cost money for any industry in which the Big Men, back at home, have vested interests.  They don't want to have an aggressive, fang-bearing lion that'll come and bite them later in the arse.'

Another friend, a high-ranking conservationist, who works at the front line of bird conservation, wrote even more revealingly in response to an earlier diatribe of mine against the CBD:

' I especially love your treatise on the CBD - I share your views but can not express them as I work for an NGO and we have to praise it.'

'We have to praise it.' These two guys are passionate conservationists and have taken poorly paid, insecure jobs in an effort to promote biodiversity conservation. Yet they cannot say what they think if they want to keep these jobs. We are on our own, I'm afraid, but collectively we are up to the task.

Best wishes,


> Some might suggest that an organization like PBS or NARGS or 
> AGS or even AHS and RHS  campaign to resolve the issue of propagation 
> and distribution, but there seem to be complicities within 
> complicities and well meaning do-gooders preventing all the most 
> desirable results.
> I don't have a clue to even an approach to an answer, but the 
> current situation seems foolish at best.
> Tom and Boyce can you suggest the first step to resolve this? 
> A step that shows cooperation between both the regulators and 
> authorities, and the growers and gardeners who might implement some 
> changes?
> BestJim W.
> * as well as national regulatory agencies, greed and the status quo
> -- 
> Dr. James W. Waddick
> 8871 NW Brostrom Rd.
> Kansas City Missouri 64152-2711
> Ph.    816-746-1949
> Zone 5 Record low -23F
> Summer 100F +

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