So you think farming is "Natural"? That was your first mistake. There is nothing "Natural" about farming except in the overactive dreams of some armchair utopian "Naturalists". You know the ones who proclaim, usually from the refuge of carpeted, air-conditioned comfort, that Big Farm is trying to poison us all and render the planet uninhabitable and, all the while, may never have successfully tended a flower pot themselves. The first act of pulling out a weed by hand was the beginning of the long dark "Un-Natural"ascent of mankind out of the desperation of hunting and gathering and into the light of civilization.
"When tillage begins, other arts follow. The farmers, therefore, are the founders of human civilization."
- Daniel Webster
That's right, and tillage, which includes pulling or removing weeds, is a very unnatural activity especially when it comes to enjoying butterflies and daisies. Then again if we follow that thought to it's logical conclusion, so are avalanches and earthquakes, but that's for another post.
I got my dander up the other day when a fellow blogger, GMOPundit, forwarded me a letter written by a Real Farmer, you know, one of the 2% that actually makes their primary living toiling by the sweat of their brow against the thorns and thistles. It resounded like a Voice in the Wilderness, which it actually was, rural Texas to be exact.
The post was dated Oct. 7, 2011 in Southwest Farm Press by R. N. Hopper and Chase Carr entitled; "GMOs, Biotechnology Offer Agricultural Blessings".
They article begins with the premise:
"The fundamental misunderstanding of the plight of agricultural producers stems from the idea that farming is, or should be, natural. Farming is not natural. It is, in fact, a struggle against nature."To say that there is a "fundamental misunderstanding of the plight of agricultural producers" in the minds of the other non-agricultural 98% is to understate in the extreme. It seems the world of agricultural producers and the world of agricultural consumers are two different worlds. At times the disconnect between these two worlds is as far as Narnia is from 1940's World War II England, but that Wardrobe must be here somewhere....
Because of this yawning chasm of ignorance on the part of the 98%, the populace is subject to the wily snake oil salesmen, yes they are still around although dressed up in 21st century cyberware. You know the drill, sharply appointed and exuding authority they ride into town and exploiting ignorance, the handmaiden of fear, whip the populace into a drooling frenzy. And then, of course , they just happen to have a few bottles left of the pricey remedy in the pretty wagon. No economic interest here just "humanitarian aid". It brings to mind an episode of "The Andy Griffith Show" from my bleary-eyed 1960's childhood television viewing, where Aunt Bea and the ladies auxiliary are seduced by the charms of a mustachioed snake oil salesman and end up giving the neighbors a drunken serenade after finishing off a bottle of the rejuvenating IndianTonic.
In case you haven't caught my drift, the anti-biotech terrorists are selling snake oil, their product the illusory "Natural"remedy which makes us all feel better. Until we get hungry. Back to the article, Hopper and Carr continue by recounting their rude awakening to the negative impact of social media upon their livelihood brought to the fore by some negative comments about biotechnology and agriculture that they had read online and then goes on to explain enduring the worst drought in 100 years in Texas, not exactly something a cyber ag critic could really relate to.
They include a Biblical reference to the farmer enduring adversity:
I love their comparison of the management of the unnaturally high population of a corn field to the unnaturally high population of a city:"Adversity is nothing new for a farm family. This struggle against nature has been our story since the fall of man, recorded in Genesis: “cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. – Gen 3:17-19."
"It may surprise you that I say farming is unnatural, but I assure you that you will never see a population of 32,000 corn plants per acre in nature. When you attempt such trying to attain a high yield, many problems arise. These “unnatural” populations open the door to attacks from insects and disease, problems that must be managed......
Management required for successful agriculture is no less necessary than the management required to sustain the 8.3 million people in the city of New York. Such a population on such a small area opens the door to many problems. A lot of food and other resources must be brought in, and a lot of waste must be carried out. An army of public servants must serve the needs of sanitation, law enforcement, and maintenance."
Take that you urban cowboys.
Then the appeal to using technology at all i.e.; computers and social media, is OK for the anti biotech crowd to use in their assaults on farmers but farmers shouldn't be allowed to use genetic technology to improve their crops and livelihood:
"Yet you choose to cry against my family and me because we are a smaller and less powerful target. You use the technology of social media to have a voice against farmers, but would deny us the technology to safely and afford-ably feed you. I have read your claims against biotechnology and find them to be full of falsehoods and half-truths perpetuated by uninformed fear mongers....
The food supply provided to you, by American farmers and ranchers, is the safest and most affordable in the world. The World Health Organization states on their website: “The GM products that are currently on the international market have all passed risk assessments conducted by national authorities. These different assessments in general follow the same basic principles, including an assessment of environmental and human health risk. These assessments are thorough, they have not indicated ANY risk to human health.”
They give a discussion of the Starlink corn fiasco and the Alar fraud perpetrated by the NRDC . But you gotta love the killer example of the arrogant ignorance that these anti biotech folks are capable of with the often quoted story they use as an example of the dangers of GMO crops, remember the one about the buffalo being sterilized by foraging on Bt cotton, they slice and dice here:
"The Mercola website that reported the story of the 1,000 acres of corn being destroyed is among the worst inaccuracies. On that site I read a story about buffalo eating GMO cottonseed and becoming sterile. This might be funny if it were not so tragic in its ignorance. It is not the transgenes that cause the buffalo’s sterility, but rather the gossypol, a toxic pigment found in all cotton seed—which can only be detoxified by heating during processing—that causes temporary sterility in adult bulls and permanent sterility in adolescent males. In fact, the Chinese male birth control pill, also used in Brazil, is based on gossypol.
The closing appeal for sanity:
Simple eloquence from honest, authentic stewards of the earth. Go away you anti-biotech terrorists. Boo!! Go away and find something real to anti-blog about like, say pathogenic microbes contaminating your food. You know, Listeria, Salmonella, E. coli, ring a bell? You'll find some real body counts there."The primary goal in my life and the purpose of my existence is to provide as much food for as many people for as little expense as my talents and resources will allow. You want nothing different from what I want - safe food and a productive future for my children.Randy invited one of you to visit his farm. His invitation was thrown back in his face and that person also attacked him and insulted his intelligence. I will once again extend the same invitation. I plead with each of you to re-examine your beliefs about biotechnology. It is humanity’s single greatest hope for the future. In years to come, I believe that this will be borne out by history.These environmental extremist organizations are nothing more than terrorists. My family doesn’t have to worry about jets flying into our sparsely populated town, but we are terrorized by our own American brothers and sisters - by you - who are entitled to your own opinions, but not to your own facts.In any event, I shall continue to strive to be the best steward of the great blessings my Creator has given me charge over as long as I live. I have only one request: Please stop hurting my family. It seems too simple a request, but regretfully, I don’t know how else to ask. May God bless you. May he bless us all."