Saturday, January 2, 2010


I was reading an article about my favorite corporate monopolistic whipping boy the other day -- Monsanto. Their PR folks are putting forth the idea that we need their technology to "feed the world", and they've convinced the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation to spread their spawn in promotion of this idea. Yes -- Monsanto, the company who brought us Agent Orange and carcinogenic RBGH in our milk, is actually a philanthropic organization. The company who encourages the contamination of unwitting farmers whom they then sue for copyright infringement, feels that only they can feed the world.

The big question in my mind is: Haven't we already fed the world a little too much?

Never mind the fact that their genetically modified seed is regularly outproduced by conventional hybrids, or the fact that numerous studies have linked consumption of their GMO products with increased health problems and reduced fertility rates (hey -- then there would be fewer of us to feed -- maybe Monsanto really is on to something!)

It's been shown that the bacteria in our digestive tracts are assimilating genetic material from GMO grains into their own genetic structure. One of those traits Monsanto has introduced into their products is the ability of the plants to create their own toxin, which is a potent insecticide (it's normally created by the bacteria Bacillus Thuringiensis). Wouldn't that be a real bummer if Monsanto has turned people's guts into personal pesticide factories? It's not as if their products have a history of unintended side effects, right?

Oh, and by the way... about 60% of the items on US store shelves now contain GMO ingredients, so chances are you're part of their experiment. Europeans have banned GMO ingredients in most of their food, but we here in the US apparently enjoy volunteering as unpaid lab rats.

An acquaintance of mine who is also interested in working his farm with horses recently greeted me as a fellow "regressionist". I've never had a term for the sort of things I like to do, but I like it. So from now on I'll refer to myself as a regressionist. The first use of this word that I came accross referred to people being hypnotized to bring back memories from past lives, which isn't quite what I'm doing. Or is it?

There are a number of good reasons to become a regressionist farmer (I use the term farmer loosely -- it feels presumptuous when I'm really not yet making my living at it). First of all, it's much more fun than sitting on a tractor. Neither tractors nor horses have catalytic converters, and Eau de Horse beats Eau de Exxon hands down.

Second, it generates no direct carbon emissions, and I think that's important. And last but not least, I'm of the opinion that fuel will be far more scarce by the end of this coming decade, to the point that fossil-fuel supported farming will likely collapse. So a regressionist farmer is in essence a futuristic farmer. I'm the George Jetson of farmers! And if by chance I'm wrong on #3, the first two are reason enough to keep it up.

If our fossil fuel based society really does go completely awry as many are now predicting, we'll probably be just as screwed as any farmer who now burns thousands of gallons of diesel a year, but... maybe we would do better in a limited collapse scenario. The future makes for a moving target that's tough to hit.

The more I think about "sustainability", the more I'm convinced that my regressionism doesn't really take it far enough. At the very least, we will always be reliant upon fossil fuels to create much of my farm implements, or for a new barn roof, for example. So this really isn't that sustainable.

Sustainable societies have existed here in Michigan, but we shot most of their members or gave them smallpox blankets. The Native American lifestyle, which persisted for 10,000 years, was usurped by our industrial society which looks as if it will likely take out the whole planet in just a few hundred years.

So if you value sustainability -- the kind where you don't have to worry that your lifestyle is destroying the life of your children, an aboriginal society is your model. It's what we should all be shooting for. We can't get there anytime soon, since we've overshot the carrying capacity of the planet several times over with our use of fossil fuels, and contaminated or destroyed most everything that the natives relied on, especially here in the midwest. But with time, as our population subsides and nature rebuilds, it may again be possible. Someone is going to have to pull us out of our societal nosedive if we want to contemplate a future though. The recent circus in Copenhagen has proven that this will by necessity be a do-it-yourself project.

1 comment:

shannon said...

Great post David. We as a society have a long way to go for sustainability. I hope we'll be able to pull out of the nosedive within our lifetime.