plant regulation

Adam Fikso
Tue, 28 Jul 2009 09:41:44 PDT
Thank you Bob Pries.  It's good to hear from you again and to note your 
accurate points and   comments about invasiveness.  I must point out that 
not just you but others seem to have gotten Sarah Reichard's name wrong.

First point:  Know thine enemy.

The issue of invasiveness is not only an issue affecting plants so it's 
important to charcterize it properly to deal with it.  I could say that it's 
a psychological problem (because it is) related to fear of invasive 
entities, racial, sexual, etc., and that would be true also, but not 
necessarily useful in mounting a strategy for dealing with it.

Second point:  Invasiveness is  probably best understood as characteristic 
of living organisms (and non-living organisms that are capable of 
propagating themselves--e.g., viruses and prions), not limited to plants--so 
experts in the area can be limited by the concepts that organize how we 
think of botany are not going to be sufficient to cope with the problem. 
They're guaranteed to fall short, just as most prohibitive laws would be--  
(at least in the temporary sense).

Third point:  We are not going to stop evolution, through passing 
restrictive laws against it-- however disguised.

Nor by saying that this plant shall pass and that one shall not--nor by 
noting relationships between plants and their invaders and trying to erect 
barriers between them. The better models for the control of the problem are 
probably to be found in Public Health where  relative successes can be 
documented  to control the spread of poliomyelitis, smallpox, yellow fever, 
malaria, brucellosis, tuberculosis, tetanus, rabies .  Now granted, control 
of these diseases  occurs not because we must fight against people wanting 
to grow polio in their garden, nor because anybody particularly wants to 
grow mosquitoes for their incredible beauty. (And they ARE beautiful 
masterworks of biological engineering--superbly fitted to their ecological 
niches)  But we do have countervailing forces, that are societal -- against 
controls-- in the form of religious fundamentalists  or uninformed people 
who don't want their kids vaccinated who can act as pockets of infection or 
vectors for disease., people with vested economic interests against modeds 
of farming that might use less of certain insecticides, or less fertilizer 
derived from mining, or who through misguided beliefs in "natural" products 
don't want their milk pasteurized and are willling to risk letting  their 
kids get sick.

Fourth point: This generally is a psychological problem and a sociological 
problem,  and to be sure, a  religious and legal problem, and needs to be so 
considered to make any real headway.  Since the problem is so broad and 
all-encompassing, it can only be solved by recourse to an equally large and 
encompassing  body of knowledge organized to act in a concerted manner. 
This body would be whether one likes it or not, theoretical considerations 
aside...  A government responsive to its people.  Market forces won't do it, 
because the market is implicated in a worser manner than any government is. 
And "the market"  does not "move to correct itself"-- that idea is a 
fictional construct.  People do this.  People are not a fictional construct.

So-- to the extent that the people in the USDA see this as a problem which 
has been growing for some years, and needs some attention...  What they've 
proposed seems to be entirely appropriate, at this point of inflection in 
time--  given the limitations of our language and people's knowledge of it 
and attention to details.

What we need to do is let them know that we're watching and that we care 
what they do and provide them with whatever expertise we may have.

If the USDA follows the lead of Australia and New Zealand here, and they 
may-- then any records of a plant having been introduced to and grown in the 
U.S. prior to the enactment of a ban or restriction would be a reason for 
considering entry and transport for the plant within the U.S. given that no 
particular pest was attached to it. or likely to be.  'Similar restrictions 
operate right now in horticultural commerce without violating "Free Trade" 
principles.  One may not send certain plants to California, AZ, AR and 
nobody seems worse off for it.  Certain plants (purple loosestrife as one 
example) may not be sold in Illinois even though the plant has escaped to 
many roadside ditches and is regarded by the uninitiated as a native, along 
with Hemerocallis fulva var. 'Kwanso' originally brought in as a foodstuff 
back in the 1800s probably by Chnese laborers working on our railroads but 
the event has not been documented nor is it fully traceable.
 Gill-over-the-ground (Glechoma hederacea) was probably brought in in the 
1600s as flavoring for gin or a constituent for brewing beer.  Invasive as 
all get out in my yard--and probably others, but not particularly oppressive 
nor a vector for disease.

I am very careful about sending any bits or pieces of this on to anybody I 
trade plants with, but cannot guarantee that a few seeds might not turn up. 
I have to confess that I do not know how it propagates itself except by 
above-ground runners.

Tony Avent's idea of master gardeners acting as watchdogs  around the 
country seems to be workable--and may be a best  first start, OR-- even a 
sufficient stage for control of plant pathogens.  In fact-- a staging system 
seems to be quite workable and something that could be put in place--for 
certain plants via the many plant societies-- whose members could act just 
as physicians do in reporting communicable diseases to the National Centers 
of Disease Control and Prevention which bureaucray does a fantastically good 
and rapid  job in tracking and alerting  the nation to new sources, e.g, the 
advent of the new H1N1 swine flu and its spread.

Let's not juggle slogans and call it "thinking".   We've got some sharp 
people on this forum.

Yeah, I've been sloppy too,.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Robert Pries" <>
To: "Pacific Bulb Society" <>
Sent: Tuesday, July 28, 2009 8:06 AM
Subject: Re: [pbs] plant regulation

> I know that passions run very high on the topic of invasive plants and I 
> can’t restrain myself from making a 

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