The Folly of Big Agriculture: Why Nature Always Wins

April 9, 2012 | By | 2 Replies More

Large-scale industrial agriculture depends on engineering the land to ensure the absence of natural diversity. But as the recent emergence of herbicide-tolerant weeds on U.S. farms has shown, nature ultimately finds a way to subvert uniformity and assert itself.

Verlyn Klinkenborg, Environment 360
Waking Times

In its short, shameless history, big agriculture has had only one big idea: uniformity. The obvious example is corn. The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts that American farmers — big farmers — will plant 94 million acres of corn this year. That’s the equivalent of planting corn on every inch of Montana. To do that you’d have to make sure that every inch of Montana fell within corn-growing parameters. That would mean leveling the high spots, irrigating the dry spots, draining the wet spots, fertilizing the infertile spots, and so on. Corn is usually grown where the terrain is less rigorous than it is in Montana. But even in Iowa that has meant leveling, irrigating, draining, fertilizing, and, of course, spraying.

You can argue whether uniformity is the result of efficiency or vice versa. But let’s suppose that efficiency is merely the economic expression of uniformity. The point is this: When you see a Midwestern cornfield, you know you’re looking at nature with one idea superimposed upon it. This is far less confusing, less tangled in variation than the nature you find even in the roadside ditches beside a cornfield or in a last scrap of native prairie growing in a graveyard or along an abandoned railroad right-of-way. Nature is puzzling. Corn is stupefying.

Humans have spent a lot of time trying to figure out what the big idea behind nature is. It’s hard to tell, because we live at nature’s pace and within the orb of human abstraction. We barely notice the large-scale differences from year to year, much less the minute ones. But if we could speed up time a little and become a lot more perceptive, we would see that nature’s big idea is to try out life wherever and however it can be tried, which means everywhere and anyhow. The result — over time and at this instant — is diversity, complexity, particularity, and inventiveness to an extent our minds are almost unfitted to conceive.

A reasonable agriculture would do its best to emulate nature. Rather than change the earth to suit a crop — which is what we do with corn and soybeans and a handful of other agricultural commodities — it would diversify its crops to suit the earth. This is not going to happen in big agriculture, because big agriculture is irrational. It’s where we expose — at unimaginable expense — our failure to grasp how nature works. It’s where uniformity is always defeated eventually by diversity and where big agriculture’s ideas of diversity are revealed to be as uniform as ever.

To a uniform crop like corn, farmers have been encouraged to apply a uniform herbicide to kill weeds. Modern corn is genetically engineered to not be killed by the herbicide in ubiquitous use. Mostly, that herbicide has been glyphosate, marketed under the Monsanto trade name Roundup. Farmers have sprayed and over-sprayed billions of gallons of Roundup thanks to an economic and moral premise: corn good, weeds bad. And yet you can’t help noticing that it has done nothing to stop the endless inventiveness of nature.

To broadleaf weeds and soil microorganisms, Roundup is not the apocalypse. It is simply a modest, temporal challenge, which is why, 15 years after genetically-engineered, Roundup-tolerant crops were widely introduced, it’s no longer working against spontaneous new generations of Roundup-tolerant weeds, especially in cotton fields. This is because research, in nature’s laboratory, never stops. It explores every possibility. It never lacks funding. It is never demoralized by failed experiments. It cannot be lobbied.

To fix the problem of glyphosate-tolerant weeds, Dow Chemical is hoping to introduce crop varieties that will withstand being sprayed with an herbicide called 2,4-D. When it was first released to farmers in 1946, 2,4-D was a breakthrough — a herbicide that killed only certain kinds of plants instead of killing them all. It’s less safe than glyphosate, especially because it’s sometimes contaminated with dioxin. But it’s not an indiscriminate, lethal killer, despite the fact that it was one of the chemicals in Agent Orange, the notorious defoliant used during the Vietnam War. (The dioxin in Agent Orange came from another component chemical called 2,4,5-T.)

Still, this is backward-engineering of a sort, like trying to breed birds that will tolerate DDT. And while the USDA hasn’t decided whether to approve Dow’s 2,4-D-tolerant soybeans yet, it has decided to speed up the process of reviewing genetically-engineered crops, mainly to help deal with the spread of so-called superweeds caused by the nearly universal application of glyphosate for the last decade and a half. According to Dow’s numbers, superweeds affected some 60 million acres of crops last year. If things go right, bureaucratically, that is just so much cash in Dow’s pocket.

For decades, farm bills in the U.S. Congress have supported large-scale agriculture. But with the 2012 Farm Bill now up for debate, Jim Robbinswrites, advocates say seismic shifts in the way the nation views food production may lead to new policies that tilt more toward local, sustainable agriculture.

“Farmers needs technology right now to help them with issues such as weed resistance,” a Dow official said last month. Translation? Farmers need technology right now to help them with issues created by right-now technology introduced 15 years ago. Instead of urging farmers away from uniformity and toward greater diversity, the USDA is helping them do the same old wrong thing faster. When an idea goes bad, the USDA seems to think, the way to fix it is to speed up the introduction of ideas that will go bad for exactly the same reason. And it’s always, somehow, the same bad idea: the uniform application of an anti-biological agent, whether it’s a pesticide in crops or an antibiotic on factory farms. The result is always the same. Nature finds a way around it, and quickly.

This is the irrationality of agriculture as it’s practiced in the United States and now all over the world. It has one big idea, and it will never give it up, because it has invested everything in that one big idea. Against uniformity and abstraction — embodied in millions of acres of genetically-modified crops — nature will always win. Whether it can ever win against the uniformity and abstraction embodied in the human brain is very much in doubt.

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.

~~ Help Waking Times to raise the vibration by sharing this article with the buttons below…

Tags: , , ,

Category: Agriculture, Business, Community, Earth, Environment, Governance, Ideas, Permaculture, Revolution, Science, Society, Time & Space

Comments (2)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. brian says:

    HeLa Cells, that is what is being missed in the GMO fight

  2. Remoting says:

    Hmm is anyone else encountering problems with the pictures
    on this blog loading? I’m trying to figure out if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog.
    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Leave a Reply

Must Watch Videos

How Time and Space Clues Point To Who We Are and Where We Are Going

How Time and Space Clues Point To Who We Are and Where We Are Going













Brad Olsen, In5D Guest
Waking Times

Is it possible that some races have traveled back from the future in order to change the outcome of their physical evolution? If so, can we follow the clues to find out how our future will unfold and how would the present affect the … More

June 18, 2014 | By | Reply More
The Kaua`i Cocktail – How Big Agribusiness is Poisoning Hawaii

The Kaua`i Cocktail – How Big Agribusiness is Poisoning Hawaii













Paul Koberstein, Guest
Waking Times

Highly toxic pesticides are being applied to GMO fields on Kaua`i at a heavier rate than on most US farms, an analysis of new data reveals.

The Hawaiian island of Kaua‘i has become Ground Zero in the intense domestic political battle over genetically modified crops. … More

June 17, 2014 | By | 1 Reply More
A Neuroscientist Explains What Happens To Your Brain When You Meditate

A Neuroscientist Explains What Happens To Your Brain When You Meditate













Joe Martino, Collective-Evolution
Waking Times

Meditation is becoming very popular lately. Perhaps it’s the anecdotal evidence friends are sharing with each other or the fact that more and more science is coming out to confirm the benefits of meditation that it’s encouraging people to take up the practice. Meditation has … More

June 16, 2014 | By | 1 Reply More
Enlightenment, Ascension and The Illusion of Matter

Enlightenment, Ascension and The Illusion of Matter













Free Spirit, Guest
Waking Times

Since the Galactic Central Sun alignment in December 2012, many human beings are experiencing a powerful and profound awakening to their true nature as Multi-Dimensional Immortal Beings of Light incarnating in physical form. The convergence of the 3rd and 5th dimensional frequencies is causing all … More

June 15, 2014 | By | 7 Replies More
Silencing the Sea – The Link Between Sound, Life and the Mass Murder of Whales and Dolphins

Silencing the Sea – The Link Between Sound, Life and the Mass Murder of Whales and Dolphins













Dylan Charles, Editor
Waking Times

In our universe of frequency and vibration, where all matter is condensed energy and even water demonstrates intelligence, sound and intention play an enigmatic role in the organization of life.

When introduced to positive, loving intention and prayer, water molecules freeze into highly … More

June 13, 2014 | By | 5 Replies More

Activism Works

Wave of GMO Labeling Victories Emboldens Movement to Take Back Food Democracy

Wave of GMO Labeling Victories Emboldens Movement to Take Back Food Democracy













Michele Simon, EcoWatch
Waking Times

The East Coast has been getting most of the attention lately on the state by state effort to label genetically-engineered food. Vermont recently passed a bill and New York State’s bill is now moving. But let’s not forget about the western states, which are also … More

June 11, 2014 | By | 1 Reply More
Monsanto’s Roundup Found in 75% of Air and Rain Samples

Monsanto’s Roundup Found in 75% of Air and Rain Samples













John Deike, EcoWatch
Waking Times

A new U.S. Geological Survey has concluded that pesticides can be found in, well, just about anything.

Roundup herbicide, Monsanto’s flagship weed killer, was present in 75 percent of air and rainfall test samples, according to the study, which focused on Mississippi’s highly fertile … More

May 27, 2014 | By | 2 Replies More
How to Bring Minerals Back Into the Soil and Food Supply

How to Bring Minerals Back Into the Soil and Food Supply













Dr. Mercola
Waking Times

There are now many studies clearly documenting that if you eat processed foods, you’re being exposed to toxic herbicides. These toxic chemicals have been found in everything from breast milk to umbilical cords and placentas.

This of course means that children are now born with a … More

May 26, 2014 | By | 3 Replies More
After the March Against Monsanto, Momentum Favors the People

After the March Against Monsanto, Momentum Favors the People













Jefferey Jaxen, Contributor
Waking Times

It is clear that we have just witnessed the largest single worldwide protest against a company and their products. What’s also clear is the major public disgust for anything bearing the words ‘Genetically Modified Organism’. Monsanto’s only refuge lies in the massively funded mouthpieces of … More

May 26, 2014 | By | 1 Reply More
The Natural News Food Lab – Corporate Food Checkmated

The Natural News Food Lab – Corporate Food Checkmated













Jeffrey Jaxen, Contributor
Waking Times

Shortly after Mike Adams (The Health Ranger) appeared on the scene with his website Natural News, it quickly became a leader in virtual alternative health news for a growing number of people who were hungry for knowledge about their food, health and wellbeing. Those … More

May 13, 2014 | By | 3 Replies More