It is clear that there is a problem!
In English, we use the sumptuous and delicious sounding word ‘onomatopoeia’ to describe words which sound like what they are portraying. Ironically, the original Greek meaning of onomatopoeia simply means ‘creating a name for something’. It is perhaps a quirk of the English language, however, that we have so many of both of these things in everyday speech. Words which give a real sense of their meaning and words which don’t really mean what we think they do.
One such word is ‘pesticides’. In sound, it feels nasty and suggests malice, aggression or attack. In practice, it is a weapon of mass destruction or biological warfare on animal and other plant life that would destroy our crops. Despite the connotations of its sound and the description of its actions, its technical definition is of a virtuous soldier on the side of healthy food production and meeting demand. Hmmmm!
And yet we all somehow know that it isn’t a good idea!
In principle, I suppose, the idea of pesticides falls into the ‘it seemed like a good idea at the time’ category of human invention. The reality, like so many other scientific fixes to problems caused by our desire to over consume, is that the side-effects of the solution can often outweigh any good that they do.
Did you know that The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants states that of the twelve most dangerous and persistent chemicals in the world, nine of them are organochlorine pesticides?
There are better ways to operate!
I am not against chemical interactions altogether in farming, and even some of the pest-reduction ones seem to do a reasonable job, but science is being used so much smarter elsewhere. I do not want to get too political here, but just as in the pharmaceutical industry I believe the problem stems from people putting revenue before sense and sustainability. On our aquaponics farm and many others that are operating all over the world, we have proved that there is a better way.
In fact, there are better ways…
At Sol Havens we Look at way of working with the land using sustainable farming methods and practices which are proving successful in the real world today and making a difference. Here are just two you might like to look into further:
Crop rotation: this simply means identifying crops that benefit from using the same soil used by a different crop the previous year. Most pests are only drawn to specific crops, so by rotating them year on year, you don’t allow pest populations to get established. This massively reduces the need for chemical fertilizers or pesticides and gives you a healthy product. It also has other nutritional benefits for the land itself.
Natural pest predators: the ecosystem is an important principle in sustainable farming. Remember the old lady who swallowed a fly, I don’t know why swallowed a fly… (Google it if you are too young to remember)? Well, a farm attracts pest predators such as birds, spiders and bats which kill (eat) many of the agricultural pests pesticides are being used to target. The problem is that pesticides can kill the helpful predators too so the eco-order of things is defeated. Farmers should be encouraging a natural ecosystem which supports and encourages natural pest predators.
There are of course many other solutions, but the first step is to identify that the commercially driven chemical side of the world is a big part of the problem.