My bet: bees might do better, but the over all insectopocalypse is due to something else.
Here's a talk "Redesigning Civilization with Permaculture" by Toby Hemenway (RIP) where he talks about how we got into this mess and how we might get out.
I was in organic farming for a while, and I get that it's economically more expensive, but the fact that this is a problem is a cultural construct - it's only a 'problem' if people choose to pay more towards disposable electronics and movies at the cinema instead of good, quality, environmentally-friendly food.
I think that big chemical agribusiness like Monsanto have bought and paid scientists, abusing the mechanism of scientific study simply to use it as a giant advertising and regulatory-compliance mechanism. They have bought out some voices in the scientific community, and consequently, fooled many more - via the social mechanism of peer pressure.
This is the article that introduced me to permaculture almost 5 years ago https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9074473. There have been others popping in now and then.
That said, I think a lower global population is desirable for many reasons.
diverse cover crops
in-farm fertility (no external nutrients)
no pesticides or synthetic fertilizers
multiple crop rotations
In other words, Regenerative agricultural is indistinguishable from Permaculture as a cultivation method.
I'm sure if we tried we could find ways to distinguish between what various people mean when they talk about "regenerative agriculture" or "Permaculture", but would it be a profitable use of our time?
I'm an ecology nut but you have to give credit where credit is due: e.g. artificial nitrogen fertilizer really has been an incredible advance, to the point where we have literally been turning oil into people ever since it was invented. The "Green Revolution", pesticides, and even GMOs work, it has to be admitted.
Here is the rub though: For how long?
The final verdict on agriculture is yet to be determined, the story isn't finished yet.
We know ecological food production works long-term because it has, for millions upon millions of years. Every single one of your ancestors got enough to eat to reproduce at least once, going back all the way...
Farming, on the other hand, only works so far (approx 10k-12k years), and in terms of life and ecology and such, "so far" is nothing.
The evidence shows that our systems of food production are more akin to a disease or infestation than any sort of sane harmonious interaction. You can see it on satellite photos: our cities are like scabs or crusts, our farm lands are vast tracts of monocultures, our forests are riddles with clear cuts, our rivers are disappearing where they are not eroding the land, etc...
If you integrate productivity over the long-term then applied ecology beats farming despite all the arguable advances. That's the argument to use, eh?
I'd say that's not valid, because what happened for millions of years is a far cry from what modern agriculture is (mostly) accomplishing: (a) actually establishing food security, and (b) for a freakishly large number of one particular species.
When you say "every single one of your ancestors got enough to eat" you fall victim to survivor bias; we know that many, many of our ancestors' siblings didn't get enough to eat. In fact, humanity nearly died out on one or two occasions, though I'm not sure it was for lack of nutrition.
I also feel that natural, historic ecologic agriculture isn't readily analogous to a model of agriculture that would be feasible today. Consider that part of the historic model was a pyramid of natural predation, i.e. animals that lived off the land and each other, fertilizing the "agriculture" both with their droppings and often their corpses, with humanity skimming off parts of that food chain. Again, I don't think a faithful replication of that model could effectively nourish anything near the world's current population of humans.
I could be wrong, but I suspect that a model of agriculture strongly similar to "historic ecological food production" might only work for a significantly smaller human population.
What I mean in the most general sense is that the natural systems that have evolved have a record of durability of ~4500000Ky whereas agriculture in general is ~12Ky and modern agriculture is ~0.2Ky, and the current system seems to be crashing.
I don't think we can count modern agriculture as successful at food security yet. On the other hand we have good reasons to believe that "eco-mimetic" food production will prove more durable.
> I could be wrong, but I suspect that a model of agriculture strongly similar to "historic ecological food production" might only work for a significantly smaller human population.
I suspect you're right, and that the ideal population of an "M-type planet" might be no more than a few hundred thousand people.
However, leave out "historical" and I think we have options for "ecological food production" handling the ~12B expected peak concurrent population. I think something like arcologies combined with Christopher Alexander's "City Country Fingers" could be the skeleton of a workable path from the status quo to some sort of high-density ecological civilization. (Along with e.g. E.O. Wilson's Half-Earth idea.)
Personally I suspect that we evolved to be Nature's waldoes† and we are supposed to "super charge" the ecosystem, but that's getting into sci-fi stuff. Arcologies and Pattern Language are sci-fi enough for now, eh?
Broadly speaking, we cannot see or act in a way that optimises outcomes over multiple generations, at the population scale the planet now carries. Evolution hasn't been able to optimise our reward pathways for preventing pollution or over-population, which both carry a risk of collapsing our ecosystems over time. Another significant risk that is yet to emerge is hacking evolution itself - runaway genetic engineering could have disastrous results.
While the Haber–Bosch process of extracting Nitrogen from the atmosphere into a soluble form was a revolution in farming, it was also responsible for much of today's overpopulation. Probably the most impactful invention of the 20th century, if measured by population growth. Ironically, Haber was also the inventor chemical warfare (he developed chlorine gas, mustard gas, Zyklon B).
> Farms using neonics had 10 times the insect pressure and half the profits compared to those who use regenerative farming methods instead of insecticides according a 2018 study. Like agroecological farming, regenerative agricultural uses cover crops, no-till and other methods to increase on-farm biodiversity and soil health. The regenerative corn-soy operations in the study didn’t have to worry about insect problems, said co-author Jonathan Lundgren, an agroecologist and Director of the ECDYSIS Foundation.
> Farmers who are dependent on chemicals are going out of business, said Lundgren, who is also a grain farmer in South Dakota. “It’s painful to see when we have tested, scientifically sound solutions. Working with nature is a good business decision,” he says.
It links to this study as a source: https://peerj.com/articles/4428/
>Regenerative fields had 29% lower grain production but 78% higher profits over traditional corn production systems.
Lower yield and much more expensive for consumers is a difficult sell IMO.
There's some comments here on this study:
Low yield has important and detrimental environmental consequences in that far, far more land is being used to feed the same number of people. The loss of natural habitats is an important negative consequence of our need to produce food, so efficient land use is very important to protect biological diversity.
Now, land use efficiency has a number of factors to consider. The use of the crop is one, such as are we growing crops to feed animals that we eat? This is always inefficient from slightly (say, chicken) to massively (such as beef). So if you are championing permaculture to solve the ills of chemical pesticides and mineral salt fertilizers, you really should focus on eating crickets and plants, as this would have a far greater impact.
On the matter of chemical versus alternative pest controls, this is again often subject to selective comparisons. For instance, there if insects are ravaging your grapes you could spray a chemical pesticide that selectively targets insects with piercing-sucking mouthparts that will plug their feeding tube and stop damage, eventually killing the insect, or you could spray kaolin clay and create a deterrent that may suppress enough damage to protect your crop. Sounds ideal, right? The clay has no detrimental effect on insects, is completely non-toxic, etc. However the chemical insecticide is applied at say 500ml per hectare, where as the kaolin requires say 25 kg per hectare and requires two sprays to establish adequate coverage, and needs to be reapplied after every rain, while the insecticide is systemic and residual, persisting inside the tissue of the plant for a few weeks before being metabolized. That means the clay is a lot more water and fuel intensive, increasing the footprint of your operation. The 500ml of insecticide costs say $30, while the kaolin costs around $160 for the first application and $80 each time it rains. Before you assume the evil chemical giants are manipulating the market to favor of their product, remember that that clay was 25kg (as compared to 500g) -- that's a LOT more gas to transport from the quarry to your farm. So when you look at the whole picture, that ideal seemingly zero-impact alternative actually greatly increases water use, gasoline use, CO2 emissions, the amount of farmland required for a similar yield, and ultimately raises food prices.
My point is that while the way we grow our food has to change, the answers are complex. Returning to "older ways" by rejecting scientific advances will not help us unless we are also prepared to accept a vastly lower population and the human misery that would entail. If you really want to help, get involved in the doing of agriculture, either in the growing, researching, or distribution of food and help create real answers. If that is not in the cards, then look at how you can change your use of food to create the change you want to see. Stop eating meat, eat insects. Make sure you don't waste food. Stop driving to the store and get your groceries delivered (a full half of CO2 emissions comes from getting the groceries home from the store and delivery reduces that significantly).
Most importantly, do not champion solutions as a cure-all, or denounce methods as deadly mistakes without putting in the time and effort to justify your position. Until then participate, learn, push the values of lower impact and sustainability, but trust that there are many many people all through the agricultural sector that are of the same mind and working hard to advance those values.
I bet that we could find good old forgotten varieties put in a vault for decades and then renamed, trademarketed, and rebranded as super new varieties much more productive for example. Only the best of the old varieties survived to out times. Much of the new super-varieties will not perdure when the layers of marketing will wear off.
There is an improvement of course, but not necessarily sustainable in time, or so high as expected.
Your other argument isn't especially persuasive, either. Statistically, is vitamin deficiency a serious public health problem in America? Whatever "protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin, and vitamin C" reduction there has been in corn over the last 50 years, it's extremely unlikely to have offset a factor of 8 increase in productivity.
Actually it does. 90 million acres of corn were planted for livestock in 2018  and we know that the nutritional density of corn has declined . So the long term is we just keep yielding higher with lower nutritional value? The main reason we're after higher yields is livestock and mass produced "junk" food which provides what positive value? The sustainability problem aside, how does this benefit us globally and long term?
> Statistically, is vitamin deficiency a serious public health problem in America?
Is it a problem? Yes.  In America? Past studies  have shown this and I don't think it's a stretch to just look at the health epidemic here which is, generally, systemic from poor overall nutrition. 
Sure, the productivity factor is in our "favor", at least by the numbers. But it's very clear that there is negative impact that extends beyond just the yielded nutritional value. It flows down into additional consumption and requirements to fortify nutritionally sparse natural ingredients.
Agricultural productivity has increased IMMENSELY.
In 1870, over 50% of the US workforce worked in agriculture. Today, despite exporting much of what we grow, that number is well under 2%.
In my opinion, if these kinds of products are successful, they'll massively reduce a major adverse environmental impact of farming. They also offer a non-GM approach to combating viruses, and are far safer than broad-spectrum insecticides, synthetic and organic alike.
Pesticides also had a similar narrative and ended up being used in large quantities. Their effects on environment and human health are only discovered today and were unimaginable before.
It was insanely unscientific to allow massive pesticide use and it would be insanely unscientific to allow RNAi-based pesticides without testing them for decades if not more.
The status quo is we keep doing what we are currently doing for decades. The risks of doing that are far greater in my opinion.
You simply cannot give any guarantee whatsoever that the dsRNA-based poison that you consider safe, really is safe or has unforeseen fatal effects.
You should read more about agriculture and look at the many success stories of farmers who produce in large scale without using poisons. Then you might understand that there is no need for poisons.
I don't know of any modern production system that's free of poisons (if you want to refer to poisons as anything that kills an insect, which seems to be the case), but willing to be educated.
As an example without soap, a friend has a garden. Call it holistic, permaculture or whatever. The same plants grow twice as big in his garden compared to neighbor's, because he tends to the plants, the soil and the garden using modern knowledge. No spraying. Lots of mulch, diversity, planning...
Still a hard no.
It's precisely this attitude that got us where we are today. 50 years ago, the response would have been 'the status quo is we're headed towards mass starvation as we become unable to feed the giant post-war population boom using traditional agricultural techniques'.
Now we're faced with the possibility of widespread ecological collapse of marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Species are going extinct at thousands to millions of times the background rate. Even if we merely survive, the loss of genetic diversity will reverberate through millions of years and likely result in heavily degraded, less productive ecosystems that will require heavy human intervention in perpetuity to continue to function. We're basically cutting a huge hole in the boat underneath us, and signing ourselves up to bail out the water ... forever.
Let's be honest: we don't know the long-term ecological consequences of what we do. We didn't know 100 years ago, we didn't know 50 years ago, and we still don't know today. We do not have the ability to determine the long -term negative boomerang effect of mass application of so-called 'targeted' intervention.
> It's chemically identical to what you consume every day.
And how do you know drastically increasing the amount has no effect over the long term? Note that snippets of dsRNA floating around are potent immune system inducers, because it's what viruses create . Does it have a long term pro-inflammatory effect? So let's assume you're correct, the dsRNA degrades quickly before humans eat it.
What about the transient immune responses of all flora and fauna in the sprayed area? What effect on the soil microbiome?
> no genetic modification
Literally modifying the genomes of fauna in the environment en masse in a highly selective way, putting enormous selective pressure in particular species. Do we even have any idea what that selective pressure will do? Will targeted species undergo rapid mutation and speciate? Will the descendant species become both more aggressive and harder to target, due to there being an empty ecological niche? Do those targeted species take on critical ecosystem roles that we're not yet aware of?
Note that this isn't idle speculation - just look at the enormous rise of MDR bacterial infections in hospitals, precisely the result of applying selective pressure for just a couple of generations.
The crux of all our problems is a chronic inability to admit that we don't know, and perhaps cannot safely know, the ecological consequences of our actions. But sure, kill away. If we're lucky, we won't be around when the boomerang hits.
For me (and this is only my opinion), a highly targeted dsRNA, which is completely organic (it's not synthesised), has no synthetic modifications, is present in massive quantities in nature, is consumed every day by every person on earth if they're had fruit or vegetables, does not persist in the environment, is likely much safer than any existing pesticide, synthetic or organic.
As for selective pressure, current broad spectrum pesticides, synthetic or organic, would cause greater ecological disruption I would think. Again, my point is that this is an attempt to remove that pressure, not add to it.
Saying it's all too hard to predict, so let's do nothing, just doesn't seem sensible to me. The risks of not acting seem clear and obvious. Have a look at the talks in the OECD link I provided, and you'll see there's a pretty precautionary approach being taken. It's not a case of 'let's have a go and see if it works. What could go wrong?'
Pesticides are mostly used for crops that humans do not eat directly. Food safety was never about beans or sweet potato or other efficient plant sources of protein and calories, it was about wheat, soybean and corn.
Their introduction, just like the introduction of GMOs is a result of a livestock agriculture lobbyists that made sure to increase yield of meat and other animal based products by promoting the use of aggressive compounds. These products are not a strategy for food safety but for luxurious and wasteful eating.
Pretending that biotic stresses simply don't exist is....umm..novel.
Trying to find a "smarter" way to poison things is exactly the status quo and it will lead nowhere good.
discovery of the pesticide's active ingredient might be in the domain of science, but massive use of unknown chemical in agriculture was a risk analysis that said, "it won't be our problem"
(does not directly answer your Q2)
A poorly designed dsRNA that has too much homology to a gene of a related beneficial species could impact it if it took up the dsRNA. dsRNA doesn't hang around in the environment, so the beneficial organism would have to be there at the time of spraying. For these reason, frameworks are being put in place to ensure due diligence is done in the design phase.
Like any pesticide, what the active ingredient is applied with may not be terribly nice (surfactants and the like). That's a case-by-case thing, which is hard to generalize.
Roundup is a synthetic herbicide - that they both could be used in agriculture is when the similarity ends.
At some point, you take calculated risks, because there is no action in life that comes without risk. Even your preferred solution of eliminating all chemicals and switching to alternative farming practices comes with substantial risk: it’s very likely it won’t scale. Millions would starve.
Organisms may be able to handle everyday quantities of dsRNA, but beyond a certain concentration, you may suddenly see unexpected problems, which then cause domino effects throughout the ecosystem. These kinds of relationships are unknown unknowns, and they rarely behave linearly.
I really like the RNA-based approach, don't get me wrong, but the other commenters here are right to point out that hubris is dangerous.
Which chemical company has not sold their product primarily with the “safer” headline?
Do you really believe it? Can you not just see that’s the umbrella justification under which all new generations of poison products are developed?
The safe poison is no poison.
Why are we so intent on killing things on the planet?
“Our new product the Silent Spring Spray 9000 sets safety totally aside to give the farmer total apocalypse over all six legged creatures!!!!” said no chemical company or poisons chemist since DDT.
Insecticides are usually applied pretty indiscriminately.
I think that's quite a difference.
 At least that's how they are supposed to be used. In agriculture (again agriculture, is this a pattern?) they are used indiscriminately in many parts of the world because it enables animals to be kept in insanely crowded conditions.
There is no way of convincingly demonstrating this.
We’ll all soon see how critical insects are to crops.
Specifically, is there anything that stops the technology from being used against ethnicities, say by targeting the RNA of Jews (id guess very specific due to matrilineal inheritance of Judaism)?
I'm beginning to think that's one of the best things one could do for the planet right now.
The healthy middle ground is something like the native Americans maintained - a kind of “gardened wild”. It requires active management to nudge nature towards a healthy, sustainable state. Pragmatic, spot treatments of chemicals can be useful in this scenario — it’s the endless acres of monuculutes, airdropped with chemicals, that cause the kinds of problems we’re seeing from agricultural chemicals.
If this is something anyone is interested in pursuing — buying land to “re-wild” it — check out your local natural resource conservation program.
Land needs to be actively managed - if you want it in its natural state, it needs time, money, and effort.
In my (biased) opinion, the best thing we can do for the planet is to spend more on research, so we can understand and counter problems. Spending on agricultural science is falling world-wide, just when it's needed the most. That isn't good.
Here is one (that I know about because my employer currently offers an option to use some of our open source contribution rewards for that): https://www.helsinkifoundation.org/
Most of these situations the land is placed in a thing called a 'land trust', at least that is the structure I see most often. These are generally then set out with an elected governing board, and a set of bylaws and rules about the lands. Often these rules can require a voting majority of everyone who placed in money on the land to make decisions about the land. Usually there is a minimum amount of land you personally must purchase in the larger purchase to constitutes a "share" like 1 acre.
If someone has a change of heart later down the line the trust actually is a very hard entity to get around even if you are on the board of a small 5-10 person land trust. There have been examples of such boards being flipped and sold, but more often than not what you encounter is: one of the board members is interested in selling off the land and is utterly unable to because of how the trust is structured. They can be pretty robust.
The only difference between buying land and creating your own trust and foundations like this is, the foundation ultimately controls all the board seats of land trust generally.
For example: My friend has a trust that was structured such that, he was allowed 5k for graduating high school, and 5k for graduating college, and then he was not allowed any other access to his fund. He will not be allowed any other access to his fund until he turns 40. Any other expense has to be deemed an emergency and signed off on by a board of his trust which includes only bank employees, and his trust manager, he has virtually no influence over them. There have been times that he really needed his money and they deemed that he did not, and voted against giving him access to his own funds. So in short, YES what you are being sarcastic about is how trust often work.
I suspect based on your tone you are trying to be sarcastic and snarky and don't actually care about the intricacies of trust structures. I won't answer any of your questions directly, because they are unclearly written, but will instead suggest that this information is very easy to find with a quick search.
The wonderful thing about the system that's already in place is that you can contribute to it without being wealthy, just by visiting any of them for a day and paying the entrance fee. As an additional perk, you get to visit all of that protected wilderness, while other people have maintained it for you, and you get to increase the total visitation numbers which in turns helps to keep this and other protected wilderness secure for the future.
Go out and enjoy your local public lands.
"The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is a land conservation program administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA). In exchange for a yearly rental payment, farmers enrolled in the program agree to remove environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and plant species that will improve environmental health and quality. Contracts for land enrolled in CRP are 10-15 years in length. The long-term goal of the program is to re-establish valuable land cover to help improve water quality, prevent soil erosion, and reduce loss of wildlife habitat." 
I thought you might enjoy this video about "kill your lawn" and native Illinois prairie. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oz9I2YwmV8M
You are not going to rid the South of Kudzu. The only thing you can do is facilitate a ecological equilibrium in which Kudzu is now a part.
Ecosystems change. Species move. We assume a constant that is likely imaginary. I also think you are overemphasizing the harm.
I'm not sure if "you" there was supposed to mean me or GP, but I had already explicitly challenged the concept of "natural" before you showed up (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20668387). Be careful of putting words in others' mouths, and especially of flinging terms like "bullshit" at others. Some might conclude that your own jeremiad better deserves that label.
> The only thing you can do is facilitate a ecological equilibrium in which Kudzu is now a part.
In the specific case of kudzu, perhaps. More generally, it's much more complex than that. "Only minor changes from how it is now" is as broken as "like it was 100 years ago" and for much the same reason. Other outcomes have proven possible, many times. Invasive species have been eliminated, once-native species reintroduced (locally of course). We might not know exactly what does and does not constitute a "natural" state after hundreds (or thousands) of years of human influence, but there's no reason to assume that the state resulting from passive neglect would be optimal in any sense. By many measures, such as species diversity or health/longevity, it's often objectively worse than alternatives.
> I also think you are overemphasizing the harm.
Interesting, since I didn't actually predict any harm. I predicted outcomes which you yourself categorize as harmful, even as you advocate for (in)action which makes them inevitable.
As others have pointed out it's not enough to let the land alone, it needs at least minimal stewardship.
In Canada particularly, climate is an issue for growing crops. Wheat takes 100 days to mature. The growing season in the prairies is 110 days. If the climate drops 1 degree Celcius you lose 10 days off your growing season. If your growing season is delayed by cold or flooding, you don't get a crop that year. In the prairies it takes about 10 acres to sustain 1 cow year round. Throughout Canada there are all kinds of restrictions about how many houses and people you can have on your land. The concept of "starter house" and "starter farm" doesn't exist anymore. There is the nobility, and there are the serfs. We just don't call them that.
I heard an Interview with the founder of the ecosia search machine yesterday, and they are looking for tree planting initiatives constantly..
1) https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paulownia_tomentosa is also rapid to spread, which may turn out too rad for local flora or neighborhood politics thereof, while
2) https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paulownia_elongata seems not to spread on its own and thus may need active help for that.
You'll end up with a lot of soft wood from these relatively fast (10 years?). That should be used in some way that does not release the CO2 back.
I have no studies nor experience in biology nor gardening and all of this is only based on what I've been reading on the internet.
Trees are good for the soil (help against erosion), the microclimate (shadow, humidity, temperature) and help in times of climate change. I assume a mixture of trees and not too narrow planting (as is sadly common in many parts of the world).
Many farm lands had trees in them before these lands were cultivated
see for example:
As a charity cause, sure, but that is not something that the current financial environment encourages particularly.
Perhaps because they have much more money than they personally need and are wise? Surely there are some wise VCs out there.
"France is the first country to ban all 5 pesticides linked to bee deaths" https://inhabitat.com/france-is-the-first-country-to-ban-all...
(I'm a beekeeper btw).
I just did a search for [manuka honey uk], and found there's an awful lot of woo-woo around what to me in NZ is fairly ordinary honey!
Apparently it does have some antibiotic properties beyond normal honey due to containing methylglyoxal.
I assume there is some reason (not immediately obvious to an outsider like me) why it should be surprising, but all these stories feel like “REVEALED: wet pavements caused by spraying WATER on them!”
So more like, "Wet driveway caused by water spray from several houses away".
Also, I’d imagine it will take ecosystems multiple seasons (so years) to rebound and reach equilibrium.
Well, a lot of things can cause a decline in insect populations, including non-human mediated things like new diseases, new parasites, or new competitors.
And there are some good reasons to think that neonicotinoids are unlikely to be a serious cause after all.
What's the cost of getting this wrong? You make farming more expensive overall, which means more CO2 emissions to grow the same amount of food, if you go in for that sort of thing.
Which may affect a few species. But not insects all across the board.
> What's the cost of getting this wrong? You make farming more expensive overall...
1. Farming relies on pollinating insects. Insect die-off is a great way to make it more expensive.
2. What is the cost of dumping poison into our biosphere, without having any idea of what the short and long-term consequences are?
I have to say I agree with their points and reiterate their question, so I’d like to see some actual responses if any can even be made.
Furthermore, positioning increased insecticide use as ameliorating climate change is just madness.
I see comments below like "pesticides are bitter and that's why vegetables grown with pesticides are bitter". That's a pretty odd conclusion, given that many vegetables contain bitter compounds already...
Please try to use actual logic, data, and science, not trivially disprovable claims.
Strawberries are sweet still they have tannins which are toxic to humans.
Some green plants taste sweetish or salty, yet they contain oxalates which can damage internal tissues and organs, joints and bones.
(also it's not clear if you're trying to refute my point or not).
There is an aspect of farming that is not discussed much in popular articles which is that of the timing of application. I believe that this is a concrete deliverable that both saves time and money and is feasible.
Obesity gets a free pass. Sedentary gets a free pass. Toxins in the environment gets a free pass. Etc. What are (my fellow) Americans reading, watching, and talking about if these things this simple are completely foreign to them?
We, as a society, poison pretty much everything as a standard part of the agricultural process.
The outcome -the goal - of that is of course, death of vast numbers of insects.
Mission accomplished. It’s a success story, strangely.
The only thing that seems weird to me is how society was so easily convinced that soaking all our food in poison is OK and not a problem all good thumbs up. That’s really weird.
I think this is one of the great things to come out of the invention of the web. We are becoming better informed and this kind of information is becoming more prevalent. It’s becoming much harder for these big corporations to hide these negative side effects (insect decline, Round-Up cancers etc) and we as a population are becoming more aware of the negative side effects of our imprint on the world.
Customers demand things by paying money for them.
Trying to flatten all these problems into the failings of individual customer decisions completely obfuscates the actual cause of these problems. Which is generally an economic system that puts private profits above everything else.
That's assuming the money is going to the wealthy, which isn't really compatible with things being cheap.
What really happened is that other things -- like housing -- got more expensive. But most of that money didn't go to Bill Gates, it went to grandma when she retired to Florida and sold her house to a millennial for four times what she paid for it in real dollars, whose huge mortgage payment is in turn now eating more than all of the money saved from having crappy tomatoes.
To get to the numbers like "1% of people own 40% of the wealth" you have to go the 1%, which is to say about three million people, and then you're including a bunch of doctors and software engineers who are clearly not in the same box as the Walton and Mars families.
The fact that rich people have a lot of money is not really a recent development. But it's the focus on the super rich which is missing the thread.
If housing prices go up, people at the 25th percentile lose and people at the 75th percentile gain. We see the loss for the people at the 25th percentile and recognize it as a problem, but then people are pretending like we can just take the money "back" from the Walton family even though that's not where most of it actually went.
It went to home price appreciation for a bunch of middle aged and retired sociologists and car dealership managers and dental hygienists. If you want them to give it back so the poor aren't so poor then you have to recognize that and thereby identify who it is you really have to fight over that money.
Not really. The profit on buying for $8 and selling for $11 is about the same as on buying for $9 and selling for $12. You make a little less, because there is lower demand and you have higher initial capital costs for inventory, but it's only a marginal difference.
The reason they don't do it regardless is that if Sam Walton tries selling only the carbon-priced thing for $12 when some competitor is selling the bad thing for $11, the customer chooses the lower price. There is still a Walmart-shaped thing in the economy whether or not it's called Walmart and founded by Sam Walton, because most customers choose that over the thing that costs more.
Because they have instant personal feedback into the price and the taste but not into the long-term health effects of sugar and red meat. But if you can solve that for voters then doesn't the same solution work for customers?
We should ignore the people with the most assets, and only pay attention to the people with the most assets?
It's not like before, when no one knew how things worked and were subsequently duped into doing dumb things. In this era, historians will find the information was openly published on the internet, in music, in newscasts, in movies, etc for all to see, and we still did the dumb thing.
I suspect entire books on everything from history to psychology will be written in an attempt to dissect and figure out what was going on and how this could happen?
Why are people buying this food that is harming the planet??
There was at one point (not sure if it's still in effect) a government regulation that you couldn't advertise that you had tested all of your beef for mad cow disease, because people would be inclined to favor beef that could make that claim and cause the market to demand a lot of expensive testing.
The problem is that in order to be effective, you need regulations that voters are paying detailed attention to. But that's almost exactly the same problem as getting consumers to pay detailed attention to what they're buying.
I think this shows how there is some naivete combined with economic need that makes it easy for corporations to drive farmers against their own interests. Commoditization and systemic effects are completely ignored by people who desperately want economic certainty, no matter the precedent. In this free market, one day peppers are scarce and expensive, then the next season peppers are rotting because not enough people buy them. And land continues to steadily degrade under monoculture and animal husbandry.
When the free trade agreement with the US was signed cattle farmers thought they would be exporting meat to the US. Nature be damned. Meat is more expensive, there is meat from the US in the supermarket shelves, drought after drought makes it hard for small cattle farmers to subsist (unless they get into money laundry), and the Darien rain forest is being destroyed.
But listen to the economists. Nordhaus got the Nobel prize telling us how 3.5 degrees by 2100 is OK. Silly physicists and ecologists can't understand the magic of money.
The problem isn't the capitalism that transitioned the US into a powerhouse that feeds the world or provides goods at discounted prices, or ensures that millennials in Minnesota can enjoy avocado dip while complaning about having to much.
This is a failure at the local level. Ever spent time in the grocery isle? Children believe their meat comes from meat packages. Not that it was a living creature at one point. As people have moved into cities, they've lost the connection to the land that provides for them, and life's interconnectedness.
Top this off with the crony capitalism that gives subsidies to farmers for tariffs, or subsides for a myriad of other reasons all of which are asinine(like ethanol or which crops yield most), and prevent groups like Monsanto from any real liability (both civil and criminal) by giving them government/EPA endorsements.. Such endorsements often take years before they recognize a mistake was made or that their data from 1977 is woefully inaccurate.
No this is a horror story of central planning gone horrifically wrong again, and no one can prosecute/sue these terrible companies out of existence because they have the EPA's blue checkmark and some politicians endorsement.
In the absence of the ability for individuals to hold companies liable for their mistakes, it is absolutely incumbent on individuals and parents to make sound choices. Depending on the government to be your saviour simply leads to more tragedy.
If you haven’t tried California dry farm tomatoes do yourself a favor, they’re worlds apart and worth every penny.
Tasteless strawberries are around for a few reasons
1) you can't try before you buy. bigger, redder strawberries look better, so sell better, so are grown more, and so on until that's the expectation. if varieties are cultivated for their looks, that means they're not cultivated for their taste or sugar content
2) bigger strawberries are easier/faster to pick, which means they're cheaper to pick
3) people want strawberries in winter, which means for a lot of us that means we're accustomed to buying strawberries that have been shipped thousands of miles and not picked recently.
It doesn't formally mean that, but often it means that in practice.
I think some of the success of organic food is that it can in practice be a marker for attractive features that otherwise have nothing to do with "organic". Consumers learn the association and use it, even if they don't buy into the organic philosophy.
But the best is to find a producer or label that prioritizes flavor.
Organic produce has monopolized the premium section of supermarkets. Without organic, supermarkets would find some other way to sell higher margin produce to less price conscious consumers. That dimension would probably be taste (or locality, which I have another rant about).
For me, "organic" is a marker for "bullshit label that's used to convince people to pay more." If they actually do taste better, I might buy the stuff.
The big issue for consumers (me inc) is shelflife. I want them to last more than 3 days in the fridge.
Seascapes and Rosas have a decent combo of shelflife and taste.
Are you married and if so, do both of you work full time jobs? My hunch is that this is directly related to two-income households
The rest of the meal comes from things that will happily sit for weeks on end in the cupboard without going off. Things like: Pasta, onions, tomato pureé, garlic, stock cubes, kidney beans, lentils, rice, bacon, etc.
This does mean that often the one fresh thing I use is the meat in any given dish.
This is analogous to how people used to cook as well, keeping a large store of long-life ingredients and merely supplimenting them with whatever was fresh.
I used to absolutely despise eating salad, I never knew why but I always just thought it was boring and I'd rather eat anything else; However, my girlfriend and I wanted to buy produce that wasn't wrapped in plastic so we started to shop at a local market held each week.
There we meet a Tongan farmer who grew everything using traditional methods, the biggest difference he said was that he used absolutely minimal irrigation (unless absolutely required due to drought at planting) and he also said that what made vegetables bitter was pesticides and it turned people off them (so I'm assuming he dind't use them). He said that the lack of pesticides and excessive water is what made his stuff taste so great, and his groups had to be a little tougher to survive so he believed they were healthier crops.
Anyway the guy was legit and he and his wife often held weekends where you could visit his farm and see everything, it was real deal.
The main point I wanted to make was that, while we were being produce from this guy, I noticed that I actually loved eating the salads, like became quite addicted to them, he even sold the flowers from all the vegetables and told us the best nutrients are found in the flours, they were delicious. Ever since we moved away and no longer had access to this guys produce, I went off them immediately again. I really dislike standard supermarket produce.
The produce I grow in my garden does in fact taste much better than the produce in the supermarket. There are good reasons for this. I grow heirloom varieties that were bred for taste and not shelf life. Watermelons and tomatoes in particular really do taste much better when they are under water stress. A watermelon that has been given too much water looks fabulous and has almost no sugar. I pick them when they’re ripe not a week before that.
IDK whether pesticides make produce bitter. But the rest of the post checks out.
The various things that happen to produce destined for a shelf halfway across the country are really just not appetizing.
I must admit I noticed right away the the produce was far more visually appealing then what I was used to, more saturated colors, I put it down to it being washed more thoroughly.
I think it's also important to note that once I stopped receiving the better produce, I tried very hard to continue liking salads, I just couldn't do it.
On a side note, I'd like to say is, it's a shame people miss out on eating the flowers of plants, they're really delicious and a visually impressive addition to salads.
Getting back to the Original story, the Pesticides used in Organic Farming still kill insects.
Here is a link with more information.
One tastes better than candy. The other will teach kids not to eat fruit.
A tip: Use your nose to sniff and distinguish between what’s ripe and tasty and what’s merely visually appealing.
The reason we use pesticides is because farmers need to increase yields to meet demand. But what if we didn't demand asparagus in winter. What if we didn't demand apples in spring? What if people in northern climates didn't eat pineapple or coconut or bananas regularly? What if we bought food from the store that had bruises or imperfections?
Modern grocery fruits are not naturally healthy.
When I'm casing a supermarket looking for fruit I tend to start with price and then check the goods.
The flow allows you to have more fresh produce.
I only buy organic when it’s not in some ghetto due to pricing.
You don’t actually know anything about the strawberries in the bottom left other than their organic.
Generally, the French fruits are more expensive but tastier. But when it is the high season of the fruit, like july/august for melon, then the french one are also cheaper.
Addded: the mindless commoditization is abetted by subsidies, including the subsidy of not having to price in negative externalities.
We are at the end of that era. The big corporations are slowly closing down that unintended loophole in which the internet was a tool for free movement of knowledge. Google now filters and shapes results into their idea of what is OK rather than exactly what you are searching for . The FBI just called conspiracy theorists a domestic threat  and open forums are under attack . Not long ago you were a nutjob for claiming Monsanto and Roundup were anything other than gifts from God. We will be going back to that world soon enough.
Gee, what a bunch of authoritarian whack jobs.
The same people are still poisoning us, though.
The obvious thing is that industries work for profit and have no sympathy with insects or the health of individuals and that we are unable to regulate industries in a proper way.
You could put it on your shoes from new and they would stay looking new, you could spray it on furniture and it would survive spills from coffee/tea/wine. You could coat your whole house with Scotchgard and be blissfully unaware that it was a bio-hazard.
Plus who thought negatively of the 3M corporation?
3M was a brand that you trusted, it was a sign of quality and familiar through 'Scotchtape™' and 'Post-It™' notes. Their reflective products were literally brilliant and life saving. Smart people used Scotchgard. Stupid people that didn't care about their belongings didn't.
But now we know that perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS - the magic ingredient) is not what you want in your blood. Pretty much stands to reason when you think about it, but nobody in the 1980's thought that carpets laced with the stuff would lead to people being poisoned with it.
The same chemical was used in bulk by the military for fire-fighting kit and other uses, plus the factories making things like shoes, carpets and everything else led to a pollution problem. So now, along with Strontium-90 we all have a little bit of perfluorooctane sulfonate in our bodies. Lovely.
Since the chemicals are not 'food' or 'medicines' there is no regulation on what is a safe level to have in the water supply.
But we now know that from the early 1970's the people at 3M knew there was a problem. But they kept quiet and just marketed more and more variations of the product. I only learned recently that PFOS was evil. I had also stopped using it without thinking about it. Partly due to other products such as Gore-Tex™ coming along there is way as a consumer that you realise the old product has been phased out. You just pay the premium for the new and improved water repellent to not even know the old one was 'evil'.
But the execs at 3M knew all along. Like the execs at Philip Morris. Or at Exxon. Or at Monsanto.
OF course Roundup is not a dangerous poison. This is simply a lie that is repeated over and over by the dishonest and the gullible.
Scientifically, there is no good evidence that Roundup causes cancer.
Here’s a better citation: IARC (the World Health Organization’s cancer research division) conducted a review with 20 international experts of all the publicly available research on glyphosate and found that it does indeed likely cause cancer: https://www.iarc.fr/featured-news/media-centre-iarc-news-gly...
The reality is that it doesn’t. We know this because the city of Davis, CA does public composting. Yard trimmings are scooped up, taken to the city compost yard, and over a year or som it becomes compost. Residents can pick up a quantity of free compost every year.
Around ‘97-‘98 the city compost started killing many kinds of plants.
The cause turned out to be glyphosphate. Despite Monsanto’s research, the reality was that glyphosate persists far longer than six months.
Doesn't sound completely cut-and-dried to me.
Guilt by association?
There's also that class-action suit for Roundup users who are also cancer-havers that I keep seeing ads for lately...
In fact increased yield is also kind of good for the environment because this way agriculture needs less space. (Speaking of deforestation because of agriculture...) But still, insecticides, fungicides etc. have been used far too carelessly in the past and of course it takes years or sometimes decades to see the effects...
And no, not everyone wants to eat tomatoes in the middle of winter. People who are more knowledgeable about food production never eat fruits and vegetables out of their seasons.
The answer to these problems however isn't just saying "everyone stop eating tomatoes in the winter." You know full well that tomatoes grown in the summer are grown using the same shit, they can just source them from somewhere a little bit further north.
Why is it that I can go to the grocery store and see two different types of tomatoes: one type is cheaper and is killing the planet and the other is more expensive but safe for the environment? I have the means and the knowledge to buy the more expensive one but we can't expect that someone living paycheck to paycheck is going to be willing or even able to do the same. They aren't the ones to blame here.
I do agree that we can't expect someone else to solve this problem for us. We need collective action to demand significant regulation and change to the economic system. Scolding individual people for making rational economic decisions when they have a boot on their neck isn't going to fix anything.
'Distracted' is probable a more accurate median adjective for this phrase.
With Google you don't have confirmation bias, just confirmation.
Is it safe to eat glyphosate? Well Patrick Moore says that a person could drink a glass of the stuff and be fine. He also said "no I won't drink it. I'm not an idiot."
In Hawaii I notice absurd amounts of pesticide use. Look at any place where humans gather: if it has plants, it has pesticide. Golf course, soccer field, planter, sidewalk turf.
Sustainable farming costs more in the short term. Over the long term it is the only reasonable way to farm.
The book "Lentil Underground" by Liz Carlisle was a great read on this topic.
It's probably more a "tragedy of the commons" type of thing.
If X is detrimental to society but necessary for big players to make more money, then you can bet X will happen. Especially if society doesn't find out immediately about the bad aspects.
From what I can gather (anecdotally) is most of them would rather trust the system, or blame the system, than confront the fact they are undermining their children's future. Stormy Daniel's is a concern. The shite passing for food on the kitchen table is not nearly as important.
I'm not joking when I say, we are in The Matrix - just batteries for the machine.
Not really. The alternative was having all our food eaten by insects and not having enough left over for ourselves. It's kind of a no-brainer in the short run.
Not really, given that our use of pesticides allows us to feed billions of people worldwide at low cost. Rates of hunger in the developed world are almost non-existent and globally hunger rates are as low as they've ever been and continue to plummet.
Pesticide treated food is safe and healthy too, so we're feeding the world with safe and healthy food. This is a great thing.
It's not surprising at all that people would say all good. There would need to be some catastrophic side effects of pesticide use for people to even think about questioning it.
So far all problems related to pesticides have been far, far outweighed by them giving us the ability to feed billions.