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Sunday, 13 April 2014

More Farming Fantasies!

The BBC Countryfile programme, in the edition transmitted on Sunday April 7 (2014), delivered another example of a person caught-up in delusions that GM crops have a part to play in the future of farming. This time it was a member of the British Royal Family. Very dangerous thinking, which will no doubt provide others caught-up in this delusion, with ammunition to further their belief in the importance of this technology.

Belief is the key word here, for I have yet to find any sound rational evidence that it has any importance. Its main contribution to agriculture seems mostly to be about people acquiring kudos and making a lot of money, at the risk of causing problems for future generations, while ignoring other approaches that do offer greater prospects for delivering on the need to respond to growing world population without destroying the natural world. I am referring here to such things as urban agriculture, permaculture, and behavioural and lifestyle changes. But as Rachael Carson pointed out in the early 1960s in her book Silent Spring, there are no big research grants for academic groups to be found in following these other paths – and to this I would also add, little scientific kudos, no Nobel prizes, no patents to be filed, and little in the way of personnel wealth to be acquired. And to those who would say “the world is thus”, I say no, “thus do you make the world”, and our children will curse you for it.

So I repeat my message that sustainability, sustainable agriculture in this particular case, is to be found in behavioural change and the quest for sustainability should be driven by this concept, from which novel scientific and technological thinking will, I can assure you, follow. But most people in the world of science, engineering and technology have not got the vision, the imagination and the courage to walk this different path. Advanced knowledge and stupid beliefs, this is the defining characteristic of many of these people! Say hello to these Prometheans, you will find them in Moments in Time.

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