*... If labeling is mandated by the government, most everything on the shelf will
probably say: "May contain transgenic material."*
I don*t see how it can go any other way, right, wrong or indifferent novel proteins are pretty widely distributed so the whole idea of GMO free has a good chance of turning around and biting its proponents on their posteriors. We felt that the organic opportunity was to assure that no GMO seeds were used in production, that would be comparatively easy. Assuring that no pollen drift or accidently mixed seed or allowed non-organic ingredients in processed products that may have traces of novel proteins would never happened would be another organic impossible dream/fatal mistake. Ah well, another example of the organic community avoiding opportunity by digging a hole and falling into it, no surprises there.
I want to go back to your post of 12/6/99 11:11am on Agricultural phase of human evolution (was: Reading on a Snowy Day). There is some rich stuff there that was either ignored or missed.
*I was struck by this too. It got me thinking about the long-term history of
humans, and how the current transitions might be characterized (not that I
am necessarily endorsing the transitions).
Agriculture is apparently a fairly recent invention. Over millions of
years, hunter-gatherers were at the mercy of environmental whims. They
roamed all over the world, colonizing it. Then, just 10,000 years ago,
agriculture took root here and there, extended families further extended,
and from all this grew the great civilizations. One of these was (is)
Western European sedentary farming. This supported local kings and later
popular governments. Back at the height of this age, almost everyone was
tied to the land (they had no choice).
Now, very few people are tied to the land. Global culture, communication
and travel are rapidly emerging. People are subject to the whims of global
culture (operating as it were, like acts of God). They roam, going where
they can to get jobs and gather resources. Local bands such as corporations
and denominations provide ad-hoc community. This is becoming virtualized
and delocalized. In effect, community is no longer tied to the land either.
Are you sure that European-style sedentary agriculture is more desirable or
more natural than hunting and roaming in the global environment? What next?*
My annual Solstice Vision 1999:
While I am a sedentarian, ruralist and agrarian I think that you are seeing the same thing that I am. Despite a tiny minority decrying the transition, technology is blasting us forward into uncharted waters. By the way as I have said before I believe that the recent invention, agriculture, back in the Neolithic age was and is a synthetic construct. So to me hunting and gathering in naturally selected ecosystems is the only way to be natural or get natural food. Of course if your species over populates, or if you encounter drought or flood, or another act of god you can also get pretty damn naturally hungry too. Yes the hunter gatherer image fits what seems to be emerging, consumers of opportunity moving through a virtual global environment. While there are sedentary opportunities with quasi-agrarian manifestations there is a constant Brownian motion keeping roots loose. I have presumed that the sedentary old world was a more stable place, with a more sustainable capacity!
. I now seriously question that presumption. As we confront the fact, like it or not, that fewer and fewer on the ground producers are supplying more and more of the agricultural raw materials(these are much more than food stuffs they are industrial inputs also). Instead of a diversity of small medium and large farm operations we see collections at the ends of a reversed bell curve. Small part-time farms proliferate, only slightly balancing fewer and fewer larger and larger operations. That is why I continue to challenge what we think sustainability is. I don*t think that we know enough about agroecology to answer that yet. I also am beginning to think that when the thermodynamics is factored in that we may find that the solar based production of agriculture can be subsidized at a much higher level than we thought. That is providing that those subsidies do not drive the system into a pollution of the commons that results in a reduction in the productive capacities of !
the natural resource base of the landscape/watershed/bioregion.
Will this possibly spawn farming operations spanning whole landscapes or watersheds using biointensive precision techniques? I don*t know, you tell me. When it comes to effectively managing the resources of watersheds might this be closer to not only efficiency but result in much less environmental impact? If such a hypothetical landscape farm included large animal production units as well as botanical crops could the nutrient cycles be effectively more closed and managed? If food processing was done within the integrated unit would that be another step in returning wastes to the agricultural system? Could such a system include high-tech eco-villages where workers, small/medium and large businesses and tela-commuters might thrive in pleasant surroundings? Or would this be another version of those brave new worlds that have been so oversold by both sides of the sustainable debate? If people are no longer tied to the land where will we go with private ownership in land, !
will that disappear? Or will it continue to co-exist with corporate or some form of cooperative ownership? If we do not begin to consider this type of option as well as the myth of the independent small farmer and his mystical return, I believe that we will miss an opportunity to ask our many questions about sustainability in a real world context. Of course we can also stick our heads in the sand or some where else where the sun don*t shine and ignore the disappearance of the yeoman farmer. The disappearing yeoman farmer upon whom our society*s delusional bucolic idyl about food production depends.
Thanks for that post Dale,
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