Mike Rummerfield mikerumm@gmail.com
Sun, 02 Feb 2020 14:59:40 PST
Note: you can totally skip this email if you're not interested in this

I'm not sure we are so very far apart in our perspectives -  we are not in
opposition - we are all in this together.  I agree with most of the body of
your post.  Neither academia nor agriculture, per se, can be held solely
responsible for the direction of our society.  We would truly be lost
without them.  PersonalIy, I place a *very* high value on Science and
Academia.  For all the good they do, it is when we place unquestioned trust
in those institutions, and the money behind them, that we can get into
trouble.  This is a complex, complicated, many-tiered subject and we
certainly won't solve the problems here.  But we *can* address our own
perspectives, outlooks, hopes, and actions for a way of life that sustains
our Earth and all that lives upon it.  I think we're often still living
under the promising sounding moniker, "A Better Life through Science", in
the hope that science will solve all of our problems.  Science has provided
innumerable, invaluable solutions, and for that I am thankful, but it is
also in a constant dance to solve the problems it produces in trying to
solve the original problem it was addressing originally.

I'm certainly not against progress, nor afraid to "face new ideas".  That
would be counterproductive and naive.  Not all of us are inextricably tied
into social media.  I, for one, am by choice not on social media, unless
you include email, and the PBS mailing list as being in the social media
milieu in a major way.  I'm not on Facebook, nor Instagram, nor..........
I do my own independent reading and research.  Of course, we are all
influenced by the information we take in, no matter the source.

You say, "I will believe organic farming will feed the world when the
grocery store prices are lower than for conventional farming."
-  If that is the only basis for making a decision then I think we need to
ask ourselves, what are the actual and true costs (and, yes, benefits) of
any system that we are knowingly and willing to pay for?  Do we poison
ourselves into oblivion in order to feed ourselves with the food we've
poisoned on the way into our future?  "Organic gardening" is not the
solution, but it is a very hopeful and practical beginning, and a part of
the solution.  I think that it is when 'organic' *agriculture* evolves and
accommodates to become the predominant 'conventional' agriculture practice,
whatever that may mean, that there will be the possibility of continuation
of life as we know it and need it.  At one point conventional agriculture
*was* organic agriculture.  When you kill off the beneficials and intact
systems, you inherit their work.
At this point, something that I think is important to keep in mind is that
some of the pesticides, and/or their derivatives, in use today were
developed during World War 2 as nerve agents with the intention and use to
kill human beings during the war.  It was a developed product looking for a
new market after the war. [Follow the money]  We are using these products
on the food we eat.
For disclosure - I don't know the genesis of herbicides, but, consider
Agent Orange in this context.

Yes, things change over time.  Hopefully we will find our way, a direction,
that leads to a healthy planet on which we all depend for our very lives.
And it starts with us -  in this case, are we willing to continue to use a
product in our lives, namely glyphosate, that has so many downsides?  I
will admit that glyphosate is very seductive in its ease of use.  It is our
decision.  All of our lives, and everything we hold dear could be in
jeopardy if we don't place responsible controls on our actions.

Also, I agree that population growth beyond the ability of the Earth to
sustainably provide for that population is *the* root cause of many of the
problems we face today.  You can only take so much out of a system before
it collapses.  We need to ask ourselves, what is true, sustainable growth
and progress?  What, or what are we not, willing to accept or to sacrifice
for that progress to occur?

Thank you, Peter, for you insights.  Your experience bears out my own.

And thank you, Cody, for your practical and reasoned post.  For what it's
worth, if I understand you correctly, I am in agreement.  We each are
searching for or own way to navigate through the travails and triumphs of
life in the best way we can.

In the end, it's our decisions and actions that determine our future; do
our policies and actions destroy life or promote life.  We, as a continuing
society and the environment that supports it, will live with the results,
good or bad.

Before I end, I want to put in a plug for Nature.  It has its own intrinsic
value irrespective of humans.  Its wisdom is far, far beyond ours.

(No minds were seriously harmed in the formulation of this post, [but mine
is seriously exhausted]).
(The opinions expressed herein are those of the author. They do not purport
to reflect the opinions or views of the PBS or its members:)
Any lack of coherency is also my doing - or undoing.
Now, if I can just find my way off this pulpit.  Where was I?  Oh yes, --

On Sun, Feb 2, 2020 at 9:25 AM Tim Eck <timeck17582@gmail.com> wrote:

> OK, I was going to let the issue drop but it seems a further explanation is
> in order.  As I mentioned, I was raised on an organic farm and apple
> orchard (although my parents had to work at a local university to pay the
> bills).  This was in the era of Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring".  Things
> were much different at that time and many institutions have been created
> since to address these problems - institutions that are being undermined by
> the current administration.
> I appreciate how thorough these institutions are as I am following very
> closely the progress of the transgenic American chestnut where the wheat
> rust resistance oxalic oxidase gene was transplanted into the American
> chestnut tree which was destroyed by the chestnut blight the first half of
> the last century.  I have personally been involved in traditional backcross
> breeding efforts to use Chinese chestnut blight resistance genes to confer
> blight resistance in an orchard of nearly ten thousand BC1 American
> chestnut trees that I planted with the help of many volunteers.  Nearly two
> decades ago when I began this effort, the idea of using herbicides and
> insecticides was repulsive to me on many levels.  With the input and
> education from foresters and agriculture professors, I gradually came to a
> different understanding and I could never have taken care of ten thousand
> trees without the use of chemical fertilizers and herbicides.  As it turns
> out, the genetically engineered trees are a much better success than those
> from traditional breeding.
> Now, much as I would prefer organic gardening as a way of life, it is
> mostly a lie we tell ourselves - it is a way for the privileged to express
> their enlightenment and assuage their guilt.  I will believe corporations
> are people when Texas executes one, and I will believe organic farming will
> feed the world when the grocery store prices are lower than for
> conventional farming.
> Sadly, the utility of agribusiness is a result of the lack of social policy
> on population control.  But you can't blame academia and agribusiness for
> trying to feed an out-of-control population with innovations like herbicide
> resistant and insecticidal corn and soy, golden rice, photorespiration
> resistant crops and other genetically engineered products.  People are
> clearly the most successful and destructive invasive species the world has
> seen in hundreds of millions of years and they will destroy the natural
> environment with their food crops, whether organic or not.  And yes,
> survival of the fittest guarantees that those who voluntarily do their part
> to reduce the population explosion will become extinct, resulting in a very
> ineffectual protest.  This is indeed a tragedy of the commons writ large.
> Another point I was trying to make is that social media and the internet as
> a whole allow people to choose their answers from "like-minded-individuals"
> - the ultimate confirmation bias.  Whether you believe organic gardening
> will save mankind, vaccines cause autism, pizza-gate, or the world is flat,
> you can find confirmation on the internet and you will never have to face
> new ideas.  Some political pundits have even suggested that social media
> has destroyed knowledge to such an extent that the norms of free speech are
> no longer sufficient for a democracy.
> My only suggestion is that academia has far more integrity in its
> structure, although far from perfect, so ask an agriculture professor.
> Also, Wikipedia is far better than social media since it has a modicum of
> peer review (and you should make monetary contributions if you use it).
> Also worth mentioning for those unaware of the difference, the courts are
> far more decisive and arbitrary than academia.  A verdict is often made
> with no conclusive scientific evidence and a court has no obligation to
> separate causation from correlation in determining liability.  For this
> reason, a pesticide applicator who uses many products can be awarded
> damages from a product that had no causal relationship to the injury.
> Also, the courts WILL reach a verdict while the scientific studies come
> back with varying degrees of uncertainty and even the meta-studies remain
> inconclusive.  This has been the case with glyphosate.
> Tim
> On Sat, Feb 1, 2020 at 9:01 PM SARAH-LISTS <sarah-lists@suiattle.net>
> wrote:
> > Mike, I also am in TOTAL agreement with what you say!
> >
> > Sarah
> >
> > Sent from my iPhone
> >
> > > On Jan 31, 2020, at 16:04, Mike Rummerfield <mikerumm@gmail.com>
> wrote:
> > >
> > > Jo&Greg,
> > > Thank you for your response and support.  It means so much to me.
> > >
> > > I was very nervous and anxious about sending any response at all to
> that
> > > emailer (I'm trying not to use names in order not to be accusatory
> toward
> > > any individual.  Perhaps this is a mistake).   I thought I could
> possibly
> > > even be banished from the PBS email list, but I just can't be quiet any
> > > longer.
> > >
> > > I'm not a scientist.  I'm a gardener, both by vocation (now retired)
> and
> > > avocation with a keen interest in a healthy planet.
> > >
> > > I just wish more people would stop to think about the results of their
> > > decisions, and I wish I had the intellectual capacity to address this
> > issue
> > > succinctly, articulately, convincingly, and irrefutably (fat chance of
> > > that!).  It all seems so overwhelming.
> > >
> > > Interestingly, the two emails I've received in support of my response
> > have
> > > both come from Canadians.
> > > Yay Canada!
> > >
> > > Thank you again,
> > > Mike
> > >
> > >> On Fri, Jan 31, 2020 at 3:22 PM Jo&Greg <sun-coast-pearl@telus.net>
> > wrote:
> > >>
> > >> Mike--
> > >> Many thanks for your viewpoint. You said it better than I could.
> > >> Jo Canning
> > >> Vancouver Island
> > >>
> > >> -----Original Message-----
> > >> From: pbs <pbs-bounces@lists.pacificbulbsociety.net> On Behalf Of
> Mike
> > >> Rummerfield
> > >> Sent: Friday, January 31, 2020 2:20 PM
> > >> To: Pacific Bulb Society <pbs@lists.pacificbulbsociety.net>
> > >> Subject: Re: [pbs] Herbicides
> > >>
> > >> If, as you say, " it's important to look at the details wherein is
> > >> contained the devil and you clearly cannot obtain accurate facts from
> > >> "like-minded individuals" on social media", then it seems that all the
> > >> research you've done and presented is from "like-minded individuals",
> > and
> > >> industry sponsored and published papers.  It only takes a cursory
> > search to
> > >> find the refutation of your arguments for the 'safety' of herbicides,
> > and
> > >> glyphosate in particular.  You could start with non Hodgkins
> > lymphoma/Mayo
> > >> clinic; plus the multitude of lawsuits involving individuals with non
> > >> Hodgkins lymphoma and Bayer, the current owner of Roundup;  Agent
> > >> Orange/Vietnam veterans;  lawsuits won in court resulting in Monsanto
> > >> having to withdraw their claim that glysophate binds with soil
> > particles,
> > >> making it benign; The World Health Organization/glyphosate;
> > >> California/glyphosate; glyphosate resistant Superweeds (although I
> > suppose
> > >> you could argue for Superhippeastrums) ; the list goes on and on
> > >> and.....................
> > >>
> > >> The "organic chemicals" you refer to are organic in the sense that
> they
> > >> contain carbon and hydrogen in their makeup  (most organic compounds
> > >> contain at least one carbon–hydrogen bond, hence the name
> hydrocarbon).
> > >> This misleading argument has for many years fed into the confusion
> over,
> > >> and the difference between, organic chemistry and organic standards
> > >> regarding food production and the environment.   Though they share the
> > word
> > >> 'organic', they are completely different subjects, though obviously
> > >> intertwined.
> > >>
> > >> You say, "Glyphosate, for one is the 800 pound gorilla because it is
> so
> > >> safe and useful".  What is this statement based on?  Is glyphosate
> > useful?
> > >> Yes (if you are willing to ignore the downsides).  Is it effective at
> > >> killing some weeds?  Yes.  Is it convenient and easy to use?  Yes,
> very.
> > >> Is it safe? * No *(see above).  "There are approximately 280 million
> > >> pounds of glyphosate applied to 298 million acres annually in
> > agricultural
> > >> settings (MRD, 2012-2016).Apr 18, 2019"  This is *per year*.
> > >> Follow the money.
> > >>
> > >> All the rationalizations for the continued use of herbicides do not
> make
> > >> it safe.
> > >>
> > >> Denial and diversion have not proven to be effective strategies in
> > matters
> > >> of life.
> > >>
> > >> Don, I think the relevant issue here is not whether Hippeastrum is
> > >> resistant to glyphosate (Roundup) or not.  It is whether glyphosate is
> > safe
> > >> to use or not - not just safe for the Hippeastrum, but safe for other
> > >> living things, including us.
> > >> All areas of the world have their own set of weeds that are difficult
> to
> > >> control.  Yours are bermuda grass and nut sedge.   In my area, two of
> > them
> > >> are quack grass and canary grass, and I detest them; there are others.
> > >> Just try arguing with our ubiquitous Himalayan blackberry - you
> quickly
> > >> become a torn, shredded, bloody mess.  There are other strategies to
> > >> dealing with these pests other than the application of glyphosate,
> > though
> > >> they may be less convenient and easy.
> > >>
> > >> I guess this all comes down to priorities - the short term convenience
> > and
> > >> ease of use vs. the longer term promotion of life.
> > >>
> > >> Most sincerely,
> > >> Mike
> > >>
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