Life's too short to eat bad food - Me

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic - Arthur C. Clarke

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Return Of The Giant Hogweed

Turn and run!
Nothing can stop them,
Around every river and canal their power is growing.
Stamp them out!
We must destroy them,They infiltrate each city with their thick dark warning odour.

They are invincible,
They seem immune to all our herbicidal battering. - Genesis

Back in 1971 I went with a  friend, Kenny Pearsen, to see what we thought was a SciFi movie.  It wasn't. It was a documentary starring Laurence Pressman as a fictional scientist Dr. Damien Hellstrom telling of how trying to kill insects just makes the the survivors stronger. "Ever wonder how David slew Goliath? Like the insect, he wasn't afraid to die".Kind of Darwin meets Nietzsche.

It came to mind last week listening to On Point on NPR.  Here is a link to it - you can get transcripts or podcasts there.

It was a round up of Roundup the miracle herbicide created by Monsanto (and which makes me wish I hadn't enjoyed the Monsanto pavilion at Disneyland for many years). Here's the deal - Roundup is a really good herbicide.  I first discovered it when I got to Law School in Ohio.  It helped me realize that Toledo was not WNY - we don't have TV ads about "Broadleaf Plant Infestations" here in WNY, just fat men yelling HUUUUUGE!

I have a jug in in the garage for the stuff that grows where nothing should grow.  It also kills things you don't want it to - which is why the grape vines grow on only one side of my arbor.

So to make the substance more marketable to farmers Monsanto went on to genetically modify crops - primarily soybeans and corn - that were resistant to Roundup.  Spray your fields, plant your crops and no hacking out weeds by hand.  It had a second benefit for places where tilled soil tended to blow away.  Think Tom Joad.  It allowed a form of farming that required no plowing or tilling.  Perfect, right?


Much like Dr. Hellstrom's warning, some weeds survived - being immune to Roundup.  And they grew fruitful and multiplied.  So now they are talking about dosing our crops with old chemical crap. Or new chemical crap.  When will we realize that keeping food cheap may not be the best policy.

On the plus side, It got me to listen to Nursery Cryme once more.  Always a good thing.  Oh, and as the lyrics suggest, the boys (probably Peter, but maybe Tony) got this in 1971.

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Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
- Arthur C. Clarke

Life's too short to eat bad food -