Most of us spend more time swatting away or avoiding wasps and moths than we do contemplating their importance to the web of life. But it is no exaggeration to say that the horrifying decline in the number of these creatures – the most widespread on Earth – is a barometer for the whole planet.
The new global scientific review into the perilous condition of our insects reports that more than 40% of insect species are threatened with extinction while the mass of insects is declining by 2.5% a year. This catastrophic decline is a direct cause of the existential threat to other animals, insects being at the bottom of the chain and the primary food source. Since 1970, 60% of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles have been wiped out.
The review identifies a key driver towards this mass extinction: habitat loss and conversion to intensive agriculture with its associated use of pesticides. Given this is a manmade disaster, surely we are capable of tackling and reversing it?
As a member of the European parliament’s agriculture committee, I regularly debate the use of pesticides in farming with my colleagues. I have lost count of the number of times I have begun meetings with what feels like a sermon on the Armageddon taking place in our countryside. I am always greeted with patient, patronising smiles from many of my fellow MEPs, before they go on to ignore the warnings and refuse to limit the use of pesticides in our fields.
Some of the members of this committee are themselves farmers who have grown increasingly dependent on powerful and toxic pesticides. But others have taken the agribusiness shilling and believe that their role in policymaking is simply to support the corporations that sell these poisons.
And this is the nub of the issue. What might accurately be dubbed insectageddon is being driven by the agrichemicals industry. This situation is compounded by compliant politicians and policymakers who fall prey to lobbying pressure and then refuse to implement science-driven policy to protect wildlife. This has meant that over the past five decades conventional farmers have forgotten the natural systems they once relied on to control pests. Non-organic agricultural systems are highly dependent on chemicals, so feeding a vicious circle.
Usually we see rain this time of the year which always coincides with the Blues Festival. Town was busier than usual when I was there on Wednesday. From Hipsters to older hippies, an older woman told me she couldn’t wait to see Tom Jones and would be throwing a certain item of clothing at him.
For me a busy weekend………………road side herbicide free weeding tomorrow, a picnic to follow and visitors here later.
I splashed out on the gentlemen’s quarterly, GQ, to read the Australian Greens leader………Richard Natale in a question and answer section. Skimming through, it is wall to wall Advertisement for very expensive clothes, watches and perfumes. I wonder who stitched the $700 trainers matched by a leather bag at $1920. I will write more after reading his “nuanced” interview.
Below a pic of the roadside ( private) spraying next to a drain. Byron Shire. Poisoned water finding its way to the ocean.
From: Echo Editor
Sent: Thursday, December 18, 2014 8:54 AM
To: Donald Drinkwater ; Echo Editor
Subject: Re: Response form the Herbicide-free network.
I need a name on this, Donald. Can I use yours?
On Thu, Dec 18, 2014 at 8:21 AM, Donald Drinkwater wrote:
Barbara Stewart’s (Weed management is Complex, 16 December) begs a response –
1. Urban use. A French study (Botta F et al 2009) showed that the contamination of the Orge
basin by glyphosate was essentially from urban origin – it is likely to be the same here so
control of urban and roadway use is of paramount importance. We didn’t really need a ‘trial’
of steam weeding as it is in use in an increasing number of public areas both in Australia and
overseas. For those concerned about public health, steam weeding looks like it is on track
for Byron Shire. Additionally full costing has never been done for herbicide use.
2. Rural roadsides. Unfortunately it is not the case that herbicides are successful on all weeds.
For instance, spraying of Jumpseed at Huonbrook recently was photographically recorded
within weeks as ineffective.
3. I was surprised that Barbara’s analysis of the science behind public concern re herbicide use
resorted to a sweeping and misleading generalisation – “Read about ‘predatory open
access publishing’ in Wikipedia and refer to lists of pseudo-scientific, pseudo-peerreviewed
journals”. If she had researched further she would have noted that Open
Access Journals like Plos One and Entropy are listed in the ‘white list’ compiled by
The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) which lists open access journals
defined as ‘scientific and scholarly journals that meet high quality standards by
exercising peer review or editorial quality control’. In addition, open access journals
like these are also members of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) which
oversees journal standards. Several major publishers (including Elsevier, Wiley–Blackwell,
Springer) are also members.
Open access journals have the advantage of being easily accessed, free for readers, and with
rapid publication. They are ideal for publishing research which indicates environmental or
health problems which should be acted on rapidly, if only by repeating the research for
verification. Plos One and Entropy are amongst other peer-reviewed journals which have
carried articles about herbicide (and glyphosate in particular) effects on human and
environmental health, weed resistance, long-term effects in soil etc. For instance, the paper
by Samsel and Seneff in Entropy identified the effect of glyphosate on the animal gut
microbiome which makes understandable health impacts through multiple metabolic
Despite enormous support from mainstream media Elsevier itself lost some scientific
credibility when it retracted a study by Dr. G.Seralini which found gross mammary tumours
and shorter lives in rats from Roundup herbicide and Roundup-tolerant GM maize. In its
retraction, the journal admitted there were no grounds for retraction. The retraction followed
the appointment of ex-Monsanto employee Richard Goodman to the newly created post of
associate editor for biotechnology at Food and Chemical Toxicology. Elsevier has also
retracted another study finding potentially harmful effects from GMOs. However, they have
failed to retract a paper published by Monsanto ‘scientists’ in the same journal in 2004, for
which a gross error has been identified. Other independent scientists have also been
scurrilously targeted by the agribusiness corporates, their arms have a long reach.
We have become used to the co-option of ‘science’ in Universities and bureaucracies by these
massive corporations through our experience with CSG and other mining ventures. With the
TranPacificPartnership being secretly developed which will give corporations even more control, it
is up to us to be more vigilant and investigative and not just believe the corporate advertising.
Co authored by Herbicide-free active bush regenerators…. With sincere thanks to Eileen White, our extraordinary mentor and elder, whose commitment to caring for the land, soil and water is exemplary and an example for future adherents.
Achknowlegement too for David Low and Zheljana Peric from the The Weed’s News coming from the http://weedsnetwork.com/traction? Monash University, for their sharing of the most up to date knowledge regarding weeds and herbicides and how we can evolve without the latter.
AND NOW FOR SOME GREAT INNOVATIVE GRAPHIC ART.
The morning spent slashing and mulching lantana. Humid and damp as I watched 3 wedge-tail eagles, soaring high above me as a baza hawk rested on a branch. Furious smaller birds dived and darted around the intruders into their range, fantastic to watch but difficult to photograph.
Local out-rage upon the news of the platypus deaths along the Upper Wilson Creek. More questioning the use of herbicides, especially along water-ways. I had an e-mail from an acquaintance who stated that it is illegal ( not that would matter to some ) to spray or inject near water-ways. I hope some-one can confirm that for me.
What a week. Rain and then more rain, unusual for this time of the year, our winter.
Following the successful mini market last Saturday, where the valley celebrated signing up to be coal seam gas free,http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-07-30/csg-review/4853862 I had my moments stirring the pot a little by asking people what they cooked with ( gas mostly ) where their 4 wheel drive was made and from what material and energy source, likeways their computers, mobile phones, Ipads. I was met with stony silence and a little out-rage. But when this valley has the second highest green vote in the state and we haven’t been able to raise enough funds to solar panel the hall and school, where land-care grants fund herbicides to strip and kill hectares of lantana and do not promote hands on employment for young people I was told by a couple of people I have some strong points. Odd when we all take for granted our materially comfortable lives and are then able to be very selective in what we oppose.
Methane escaping from the melting artic is going to speed up climate disruption and that is now a reality and there is little we can do. This juggernaut called progress is not for turning it seems.
There are many examples of natural regeneration happening here now with strangler figs establishing themselves on short-lived wattles and stumps of removed camphor laurels. It has taken 20 years of observation to have the satisfaction of seeing Mother Nature reclaiming degraded land. My input being the hand removal of misplaced plants that are inhibiting indigenous trees emerging.
What we call an exotic plant here in Australia came in after we did in 1788. I think we should pay them less attention, cease our use of herbicides in trying to control them and learn how to extend our native habitat by paying real attention to what is happening on the ground. Yesterday I read that the vanilla bean ( Australia imports most of our vanilla ) grows very well on the Indian Coral tree which one of our local landcare coordinators wants to get rid of. I counted 4 species of birds sipping the nectar of the coral tree flower during the winter months. Surely as climate change speeds up all our birds will need all the nectar than can get. The coral tree is here, so are we, mainly European who too could be grateful for what food species grow to sustain us as climate variability changes what we now take for granted.
Reading yesterday of the fungi that is destroying the UK’s beautiful Ash trees. I wonder if anyones thinking will include that the massive scale of the chemical inputs of industrial farming could be contributing to the declining health of the soil therefore lowering resistance to these air-borne fungi spores. Like humans over use of antibiotic, which has seen super bugs emerge, the same is happening with the use of herbicides. American conventional farmers ( herbicide, artificial fertiliser users, gm seed planters ) are now seeing super weeds emerge to which they have no effective herbicide to use. Many are now feeling duped by the excessive claims of their own Agriculture departments.
Early climb up to the work site with Marg who worked alongside me this morning. Night Cap National Park in the distance where we hope to reach with the Lantana slash and pull soon. Early starts with departure from the cabin by 6 30 am. Temps are already rising rapidly so early starts are essential.
From the USA.
Monsanto’s RoundUp Ready seed line has shown that the strategy of stacking seeds with herbicide-resistant traits doesn’t work. But instead of abandoning this losing strategy, Dow is introducing more of the same, accelerating the pesticide treadmill. The costs of this strategy are clear:
Damage to neighboring crops and farmers’ livelihoods. 2,4-D drifts, both through spray drift and volatilization. This poses a very real threat to rural economies and farmers growing non-2,4-D-resistant crops. Conventional farmers will lose crops while organic farmers will lose both crops and certification, resulting in an economic unraveling of already-stressed rural communities.
Health harms to farmers, rural communities and kids. 2,4-D is a reproductive toxicant, suspected endocrine disruptor and probable carcinogen. Children are particularly susceptible to its effects.
More “superweeds.” 2,4-D-resistant weeds will arise and spread just as RoundUp-resistant “superweeds” have taken over farms and countryside in the Midwest and Southeast.
Pesticide Action Network North America