*I disagree with LM's contention that your argument is a straw-man, and I
believe you are right. Food safety concerns are driving the ag chemical
industry toward safe, well-targeted pesticides. Many are clearly safer than
classic natural products like rotenone. But I do think he has a point about
how much regard organic adherents have for rational arguments. I don't
believe that the driver in this movement is really safety, but a desire to
cohere to natural law. The food safety issue is more of a tool to incite to
action the masses, who don't care that much about natural law (or just
incite them to buy organic).*
Interesting perspective and it illuminates some of the things I have been trying to express.
Yes and in this country we will, I think, see many very good reduced risk pesticides with that narrow spectrum of effect. Don*t forget that these will be expensive and highly profitable for their registrants. I of course would like to see more work done on biological control agents but there is less likely high profit in that realm. I think that the both would be best for good bio-intensive IPM or best management practice agriculture but we take what we can get. I understand that a lot more public money goes into biological strategies in Europe.
I am a little confused about what you are saying about organic, indeed the driver should not be food safety. The food safety issue was seized upon by novices and marketing people and has taken over the field, so to speak. I think that you give the organic market and community to much credit for formulating a strategy of any kind. I need to know what you think their concept of *natural law* is. Be careful getting into their minds is a dangerous exercise.
My perspective as a student and practitioner of organiculture for thirty years is that the THEORY is that when the soil system(and projecting from the soil into the whole agroecosystem) is properly managed then the need for invasive pest management techniques (whether *approved* organic inputs and techniques or otherwise) is reduced over time to approach nil.
All of us who have worked with this THEORY for a while have heaps of anecdotal *evidence* but data is rare. It (data) is not nonexistent there is just very little and the stuff is site specific, disjointed and in some instances very old (Bill Albrecht did a whole series of green house studies from the forties through the sixties growing insect infested plants side by side with healthy un-infested plants the only difference being the balancing of cations on the soil colloid) that it cannot stand scrutiny with out a lot more replicated and modern work.
So it remains a THEORY, one that I tend to BELIEVE, but the *organic* scientific community has not yet done enough work for anyone to talk about many facts.
I do not consider this THEORY to have anything to do with *natural law* it has to do with what are some basic biological facts such as the carbon and nitrogen cycles, some of the other nutrient cycles, the soil colloids, the whole agroecosystem and how these might be theoretically managed. At the point that humanity endeavors to manage these cycles and invents agriculture anything *natural* goes out the window so far as I am concerned, but you have heard all that from me before.
To the old timers, who I know, the whole natural substance is better than the synthetic substance thing was recognized long ago as a double edged sword. The assumption was that if the substance was natural then a biological system was more likely to be able to handle it and most importantly it was more likely to be short lived in the system. All of us understood that there were going to be and were synthetic substances that would be as good as naturals(maybe even better) but the natural allowed, synthetic prohibited rule of thumb was the easy(and unsophisticated) way out. Now a whole bureaucracy has grown up around it, one that I have characterized as not only unsophisticated but seemingly predatory. The type of review that potential organic inputs are being put through now is byzantine and draconian. Frankly I had no idea seven years ago that any one outside of government circles had that sort of talent, boy did I learn different.
This stringency, appearing mindless to the technically astute, results in a further force to drive the food safety issue to the center of the discussion leaving the historic and philosophical core as the poor stepchild given the occasional crust of lip service but little sustenance.
Your last statement is the clincher and what the organic community has missed is that the consumer that is moved by such tactic is a fickle consumer and not one that you would want to build an industry on. Here today gone tomorrow.
I continue to be most interested in the structure of agriculture in the next century and in the role of agroecosystem and soil humus management in that agriculture.
Your posts are always a delight, I still want to hear your take on *natural law*.
Happy solstice and on to the third millennium!
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