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Dow Chemical wants to put out a new herbicide called Enlist Duo to combat so-called "superweeds" that have grown resistant to Roundup and are now spreading like... weeds. It's an absurd arms race (farms race?) against nature, which the Union of Concerned Scientists, among others, has been warning about for years.

Meanwhile, an enormous pro-industry propaganda arm muddies the debate with pseudo-scientific websites like the "Genetic Literacy Project" (part of the right-wing STATS organization) to fool clueless journalists. It's 1984-level disinformation trying to ensure that chemical companies can do whatever they want.

Farm workers are already exposed to ridiculous levels of toxic stuff, with predictable results, which rarely gets discussed in these debates. Hence panel three.


Get a signed print from the artist. Or follow Jen on Twitter.

Originally posted to Comics on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 06:50 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I vaguely remember reading about a time... (21+ / 0-)

    ... when it was considered common practice to actually find weeds that were strangling plants and pull them up out of the ground, in order to stop weeds from strangling plants. I guess this doesn't happen any more?

    The Baptist Death Ray (wrightc [at] eviscerati [dot] org) "We are all born originals -- why is it so many of us die copies?"
    - Edward Young

    by The Baptist Death Ray on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 07:03:32 AM PDT

    •  Apparently far too quaint for the 21st Century. An (9+ / 0-)

      and far too labor intensive as opposed to capital intensive.

      "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

      by Lily O Lady on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 07:13:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  not unless we want to pay lots of people to do it (5+ / 0-)

      and have half our population living as agricultural workers again, like we did back in those days.

      There's a reason, though, why people abandon farms for the cities at the first chance they get . . . . . . .

      Maybe we can invent robots to do it.

      In the end, reality always wins.

      by Lenny Flank on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 07:39:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not with factory farming (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JeffW

      "That being said, I do agree I am going to hell. But for other reasons. Mostly boring tax stuff ' Amy Pohler

      by Annie B on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 08:08:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Real answer: it depends on the crop (4+ / 0-)

      Some crops still use a lot of hand labor. Grains are hard to manage that way.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 08:11:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  That's what I do (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      T Maysle, mrkvica

      It works much better than weed killers.

      Vinegar works too, but you need something stronger than what you get in the supermarket. You can buy it online. It WILL pretty much kill anything it touches, so you have to be careful.

      Makes the soil acidic so most things won't grow there until you fix the pH.

      You can also smother/cook them by covering the area with a heavy rug, heavy black plastic, or layers of cardboard.

      You can get flame weeders too, but you really have to be careful with those.

      But pulling the weeds is pretty easy. And it works.

      •  We used hay (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        T Maysle, RMForbes

        to mulch over the crops - was a fairly large garden, but not a farm.

        If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. -George Washington

        by Tank Mountaine on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 12:08:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I would also lay down newspaper under the hay (0+ / 0-)

          to prevent weeds and seeds in the hay from taking hold. That worked pretty good.

          Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT. I may make you feel but I can't make you think..Jethro Tull

          by RMForbes on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 01:40:31 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Stronger than vinegar (0+ / 0-)

        It is called acetic acid, and I'm pretty sure that it is the industrial variety, similar to what chemistry students in high school and college use in some experiments.  It used to be sold under the heading of "agricultural vinegar," but I haven't been able to find it.

        "Flamers" or drip torches are OK in winter when there has been enough rain so that a huge fire isn't generated.  The neighbors wouldn't be too thrilled if their houses burned down.

        In many rural areas in California, goats and sheep are being used to defoliate and it works well in large areas with steep terrain.  "Goat-brushing" is a rapidly growing industry.

        And of course, one can always use a gas or electric-powered weed-eater, depending on the size of the area.  They have to be used when the humidity is higher such as in the early morning which is then annoying to the neighbors, particularly, on Saturday or Sunday when they don't have to go to work.

        I like the idea of smothering and cooking unwanted foliage with black plastic.  I have a crop of vinca major which has massive root systems, and I am going to cut it back and cover it with black plastic.  Vinca major is almost as bad as the Himalayan blackberry which was imported by George Washington Carver and now has become a nuisance.

        There are lots of ways to get rid of unwanted weeds and foliage without using round-up or 2,4-D which is the next big pesticide that the chemical companies want to dump on the populace.

        The farther back one looks, the farther forward one can see.

        by MtnWolfGrl on Mon Jul 14, 2014 at 06:03:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Now the newest junk science is that (4+ / 0-)

    pesticides cause autism.

    Let's make THAT go viral.

    Jenny McCarthy hasn't left The View yet...

    "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 07:05:44 AM PDT

    •  Don't know about autism (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ichibon, RMForbes, mrkvica

      but they certainly cause the huge bee kill. We'll be ok without bees, right?

      •  But the children! They step on bees and get stu... (0+ / 0-)

        But the children! They step on bees and get stung. There was a time in my life when lack of bees would have seemed like a good thing. I did eventually learn to wear my shoes outdoors. LOL

      •  Without bees (0+ / 0-)

        most food crops would require huge amounts of manual labor to pollinate them. Not having a farming background I can't be sure, but I'd guess that would be even more labor-intensive than pulling weeds.

        As for the link between autism & pesticides, I believe there's really more scientific support for that than for the anti-vaccination scare (which was based on one very dubious study that looked at a tiny sample and didn't consider any variables).  Not sure exactly where I heard about the pesticide thing but it was definitely not a misinformation source like Fox or Internet rumor.

    •  Not junk! UC Davis, reported in Sci Am, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Powered Grace, mrkvica

      funded by a bunch of respectable agencies. Links:

      Scientific American article

      NIH abstract

      Some of us may have gotten used to calling anything about autism "junk", but this is not!

      •  No, junk. The study itself isn't bad, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rick Aucoin, OrganicChemist

        but all it really proves is that pesticides cannot be trusted to PREVENT autism. The other claims are just plain made up, by people who don't understand statistics. They couldn't even CLEARLY demonstrate correlation, forget about causation.

        You know that getting something listed on the NIH clearinghouse is slightly easier than getting it to show on google, right? Listing the abstract does NOT mean that NIH approves of the claims.

    •  Don't know about autism [stop] (0+ / 0-)

      No one does.  Don't poo-poo the idea.  You don't know.

      What we do know is...carcinogens...  CANCER.

      With the rise in cancers, STOP USING CARCINOGENS!  Are the ingredients in Roundup and stronger week killers proven not to cause cancer???

      My husband would not use gloves when using his Roundup (no longer allowed in our house for years).  Did this cause his prostate cancer?  (i.e., why it's not allowed in our house anymore.) Don't know.  Could be years on ships at sea.  Could be is issue with stress-style living (always aggravated instead of accepting).  Now that he has no prostate cancer of the prostate...and no prostate...I might add... but does have "prostate cancer of the bone"... with no cure ... Legalize medical marijuana, Florida, and let him be a test case for a cure!  Will it kill cancer tumors in the bone???

  •  Safe when used as directed (6+ / 0-)

    [but only for those of us who don't happen to be ears of genetically engineered corn.]

    If cats could blog, they wouldn't

    by crystal eyes on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 07:07:32 AM PDT

  •  Jen, I LOVE this. (9+ / 0-)

    In all the propaganda about how wonderful the agrochemical industrial farming is there is always a single sentence somewhere acknowledging this "small problem" which they are seeking to solve with even greater problems.

    Sharing this widely!

    We have it within our power to make the world over again ~ Thomas Paine

    by occupystephanie on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 07:07:52 AM PDT

  •  When I lived in Austria, I used to escape (10+ / 0-)

    Vienna some weekends and spend them at a friend's farm in Lower Austria, just on the Burgenland and Hungarian border. Like many small farmers in Austria, they grew primarily sugar beets. We used to weed those fields by hand. Backbreaking work, but cooler than the City and not overrun by tourists. It was well worth helping out on the farm to be able to get out of the City on a summer weekend.

    SPES MEA IN DEO EST.

    by commonmass on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 07:10:11 AM PDT

  •  And "progress" marches on. nt (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    commonmass, JeffW, mrkvica

    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 07:11:21 AM PDT

  •  How they developed Round-Up Ready: (15+ / 0-)

    First, they used the "X unit" at Monsanto to try to come up with a gene that would create resistance. The research was good, basic research, but it did not develop Round-Up resistance. No.

    They then went out to where the company dumped excess stocks of Round-Up. They found. . . plants growing in the dump.

    They analyzed the genes, isolated the natural selection adaptation, and began firing that willy nilly at cell nuclei.

    Oh, and they began saying that there was absolutely no way that there would ever, EVER be "adventitious" (natural weeds) plants that were Round-Up resistant.

    (From The World According to Monsanto)

    "for all the murders, rapes, and thefts,/ Committed in the horrid lust of war,/ He that unjustly caus'd it first proceed,/ Shall find it in his grave and in his seed." -- Webster, "The White Devil," IV i 8-12.

    by The Geogre on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 07:15:19 AM PDT

    •  to be fair . . . (18+ / 0-)

      Roundup was already being sprayed on non-GMO crops 20 years ago, before there ever were any GMO genes for sale--indeed you and I can buy Roundup today at any Home Depot and spray it on whatever we want--and some Roundup-resistant weeds had already begun to appear before the "Roundup-Ready" gene was even available. It's exposure to the herbicide that produces resistance, not exposure to the GMO gene.

      But you are right--Monsanto and the other chemical companies like to screech that they "invented" the genes they use and therefore "deserve" patent rights to them, but the simple reality is that every GMO gene in the US was made by Mother Nature, not Monsanto--all they have done is take a natural gene out of one species and put it into another. They didn't "invent" any of them.

      In the legal world, thanks to the courts, they have the legal right to patent and privately-profit from those natural genes which they did not make.  But IMHO they have no moral or social right to do so, and I find it intolerable.

      In the end, reality always wins.

      by Lenny Flank on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 07:31:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  to be fair . . . (12+ / 0-)

    they want to spray the new herbicides on non-GMO crops too (just like Roundup already is)--where it will have the very same effects.

    The war on weeds is, alas, a war we simply cannot win. Ever. Just like the war on bugs or disease pathogens. No matter what herbicides, pesticides, or antibiotics we come up with, the bad-guy bugs, germs, and weeds will always develop resistance. We big mighty humans simply cannot stop evolution from happening.

    In the end, reality always wins.

    by Lenny Flank on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 07:15:50 AM PDT

  •  What, they didn't see this coming? (8+ / 0-)

    MRSA, fire ants, and now superweeds... file that one under "What'd ya THINK was gonna happen??"  Every time we start trying to outsmart nature, nature goes us one better until finally... we'll beat ourselves.

    Mother is patient, Mother is indefatigable, Mother is resourceful...

    and Mother knows best.

    I'll believe corporations are people when one comes home from Afghanistan in a body bag.

    by mojo11 on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 07:16:24 AM PDT

  •  And yet... (4+ / 0-)

    it is highly unlikely that so-called organic farming methods and/or non-GMO crops could match the productivity of modern farming methods. It is also true that while glyphosate is less toxic than the pesticides it replaced, it is still problematic, and weeds are becoming immune to it anyway.  

    So what is the answer?

    "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

    by happy camper on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 07:19:48 AM PDT

    •  there is no answer (3+ / 0-)

      Weeds and insects and pathogenic microbes will continue to do what they do, no matter what we do. We simply cannot stop evolution.

      In the end, reality always wins.

      by Lenny Flank on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 07:35:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I understand that. (3+ / 0-)

        So, what do we do about it? Do we give up and return to the agricultural methods of the past? Or is there actually a way forward that does not involve either greatly reduced production--and thus higher food prices--or increased environmental damage?

        What are the choices here?

        "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

        by happy camper on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 07:58:18 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I want to see a valid, clearly written review of (5+ / 0-)

          research comparing the productivity of:
          Organic farming in the U.S.;
          Conventional U.S. farming;
          GMO U.S. farming
          broken down by crop
            and some other countries' farming for comparison:
          European countries:
           Organic
           Conventional
           GMO? do they even allow it
          Japan
          China
          India
           Small farmers
           Large farmers
          Phillippines

          measuring productivity along the dimensions of:
          Labor; machinery; fertilizers; herbicides; pesticides; extra expense of GMO seed; extra expense of non-GMO conventional seed; whatever the expense of using saved seed. And add in the social costs of displacing "inefficient" traditional farmers by domestic or foreign factory farms- these and other externalities must me taken into account when looking at the whole agricultural picture, country by country.

          I'm skeptical of broad claims that one or another farming method "cannot grow enough" or "is our only hope for growing enough" without being able to look at the details that supposedly back these assertions.

        •  I think the natives in Papua New Guinea are (0+ / 0-)

          close to the model we should try to emulate, that is, Hunter-gatherer. Technology is okay to the degree it doesn't disturb the environment. So, given our knowledge we should be able to live a bit easier, not that their life is so awful.

          No matter how we live, 7 billion plus is just way too many humans. There will be a culling of the herd.

          •  well, good luck trying to talk the human race (4+ / 0-)

            into living like Papua New Guinea natives . . . . . . Most people on the planet (including the Papua New Guinea natives) are trying like hell to get OUT of that lifestyle.  It's not a fondly-loved utopia.

            It always amuses me to see fat Americans who never so much as walked from one town to another, romanticizing the idyllic lifestyle of the hunter-gatherers . . . . . .

            In the end, reality always wins.

            by Lenny Flank on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 09:21:30 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  It would be nice, though, in the general scheme (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Lenny Flank, justaHippie, mrkvica, KenBee

              of things, if there were fewer people or even if we would just stop now. No, no one wants to live like a "savage" of old. But how nice would it be if we had a stable population where more people could live without crushing poverty and still maintain the planet as habitable?

              My greatest fear is humanity will pull its chestnuts out of the fire of climate change and still destroy the biosphere of the planet. We need to re-think our whole relationship to the world. I wish more people conceived of our role as stewards rather than exploiters.

              Just my $0.02. :)

              Watch out or I'll go get my shovel and unload plant divisions on you!

              by Attack Gardener on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 09:57:03 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  that is already changing (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Attack Gardener, mrkvica, KenBee

                Whether we like the global corporate economy or not (and I don't), no one can deny that one thing it has done very successfully (though unintentionally) is pull an enormous number of people out of poverty. China itself has taken a larger number of humans out of poverty than any other society in all of human history has--and other nations like Indonesia, Brazil, and India are not far behind (India and China just between the two of them account for almost half of the entire global population). One effect of taking people out of poverty is the "demographic shift", in which the birth rate drops sharply and population growth slows.

                The quickest, most humane, and most effective way to reduce the world's population growth is to pull EVERYBODY, everywhere, out of poverty, and allow them to undergo their demographic transition. That will stabilize population growth. (The process has already begun in Asia and South America--Africa lags behind, though.)

                After that, we can begin talking about how to reduce the population (and indeed, in some wealthy places like Japan, that too has already begun.)

                In the end, reality always wins.

                by Lenny Flank on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 10:06:37 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  You're not wrong, Lenny, but look at what they've (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Lenny Flank, RiveroftheWest, KenBee

                  done to their environment to accomplish that end. China has been one of the worst polluters/environmental degradators (is that a word?) ever. Brazil, while they've made strides, still knocks down a ridiculous amount of rainforest every year.

                  I guess my point is I wish we would look at more than just how these things affect humans. OK, great - a lot of people are living in less poverty. Truly, that's wonderful. But they've laid waste to their world. Extinctions are already underway and what if one of those things happens to be vital? Remember the saying "the first rule of the tinkerer is not to throw away any of the parts"?

                  I like those parts. I don't especially want to have a world without tigers and elephants and red pandas and ugly little moths that no one knows what they are or creepy cockroaches. ;)

                  Watch out or I'll go get my shovel and unload plant divisions on you!

                  by Attack Gardener on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 10:30:44 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Well (0+ / 0-)

                the wealthy 1% IS trying to cut down on surplus population by starving the rest of us, but it's taking longer than expected.
                Once they have robotics to the point where they don't need the cheap labor so much, they can get this thing DONE

            •  It won't happen on purpose. If you combine (0+ / 0-)

              current knowledge- like don't eat human brains, an understanding of birth control, and what we know about living naturally with the environment, disease, etc.., then there exists a sustainable place for humanity at populations magnitudes smaller than current population. I doubt this will happen, thus I am pessimistic about our biosphere's prospects. This will be the first mass extinction caused by a living organism - that we know of.

              Good luck with trying to sustain anything resembling the status quo.

              •  um . . . (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Rick Aucoin, KenBee

                I was working with Greenpeace and Earth First! and Sierra Club since before most of the people here were pooping their diapers. I have no interest at all in sustaining anything resembling the status quo. (shrug)

                The entire American lifestyle is utterly unsustainable, and always has been. Of course, most of the world has never lived the American lifestyle--nor will it ever.

                This will be the first mass extinction caused by a living organism - that we know of.
                As a matter of science, this is not true--the very first extinction event (which also happened to be the most catastrophic) was also caused by a living organism that polluted the entire ecosphere. It happened when a small group of microorganisms began releasing oxygen--a lethal gas which contaminated the entire planet and killed nearly everything except the tiny handful of organisms that were oxygen-tolerant.

                In the end, reality always wins.

                by Lenny Flank on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 11:24:24 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I stand corrected. And no, I don't want to live (0+ / 0-)

                  like a cave man. But that doesn't mean there isn't a sustainable alternative, vastly different from the status quo, that could be both desirable and sustainable. As for the natives escaping their traditional lifestyle, they seem much happier living their traditional lifestyle, than their government supported non existence. See Jared Diamond's book The World Until Yesterday, if you haven't already. As he points out, there is much to be learned by comparing and contrasting our more natural state with our current state.

                  So, this will be the first extinction caused by an organism with a brain. Or the first extinction in an environment capable of sustaining most complex life as we know it, caused by an organism. In any event, we are living through what will likely be an extinction event, and we humans caused it.

    •  depopulation (4+ / 0-)

      nature can help with that too.  

    •  Agree. I've been wondering when modern robotics (9+ / 0-)

      would find it's way into agriculture... and here it is.

      The "RoboCrop" actually uses cameras and software to guide the weed-whacking tools. It's limited to specialty row crops, probably costs and arm and a leg, and some hand weeding is still required... but it does point the way.

      “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing
      he was never reasoned into” - Jonathan Swift

      by jjohnjj on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 08:03:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  A four row machine (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest, KenBee

        costs about $100,000. Not bad at all for a sophisticated farm machine.

        "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

        by happy camper on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 08:17:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  These suckers drive themselves by GPS (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        atana, KenBee

        And the master farmer can monitor them all from his office, in case he needs to ask the operator to make a change.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 08:51:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  as an aside---when the military developed GPS as (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elfling

          a way to more accurately launch nuclear missiles, I wonder if they had any inkling at all what sorts of things this technology would be used for in 30 years . . .?  (Heck, I still remember when the military deliberately altered the signal from its satellites to civilian GPS units to blur their accuracy because it was a big military secret.)

          In the end, reality always wins.

          by Lenny Flank on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 09:24:04 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Too low for a lot of plants (0+ / 0-)

        You couldn't use that for corn, or wheat. Soybeans maybe.

        It's a great idea, and useful in some areas. But not all.

        •  Agree. Every crop requires a different approach... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mrkvica

          ... thus the popularity of spraying with synthetic herbicides. But I can imagine a herd of Roomba-size devices powered by next-gen batteries, sensors and software tending  the cornfield.

          “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing
          he was never reasoned into” - Jonathan Swift

          by jjohnjj on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 10:57:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Definitely (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            KenBee

            That would be a fantastic way to go. Small enough to fit between the rows, powered by the sun. They don't need to work when the sun's not shining anyway. Backup batteries for the GPS.

            Sensors that connect to the main farm computer, and find the location by GPS, so they're trackable if somebody takes one.

            They could also serve as soil monitors - so if the nutrients are low, you apply fertilizer. If the soil moisture is off, you apply water via the drip irrigation system.

            They would be able to zoom in on any pests, so the appropriate treatment could be applied. Weeds could be handled in a bunch of different ways, but herbicide use could be scaled way back because the cornbots could pull them, zap them, or apply a targeted dose of herbicide right to them.

            We can send robots to Mars that analyze the soil, test the organisms, and wander around with solar power, but we can't do something like that on our crops?

      •  Just you wait (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jen Sorensen, KenBee

        The weeds will evolve rocket launchers to counter these robots.

      •  beats the hell out of poison (0+ / 0-)

        kinda purty, too...

    •  Scientific farming methods (6+ / 0-)

      that work with nature instead of against it + education + recognizing human rights + scientific population control (not forced, but encouraged and certainly not the current "we won't give foreign aid for family planning if there is the remotest possibility that it could pay for abortions"). Like all natural phenomena, there are many, many factors involved. Since mid-20th century we have flooded our lives with so many variables simultaneously that there is no hope of testing if pesticides cause autism (for example) because the cost of the epidemiology to study it would be enormous and no one would pay for it unless they were reasonably sure it would be a profitable investment.

      •  Populations decline once women are economically (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        The Hindsight Times, mrkvica

        free to work outside the home. The quickest path to a sustainable population size is to educate women and girls and open professional careers and economic opportunities for women.

        As for the costs of research -- we used to do research in the US public sector. Since Reagan, US public expenditures on research have shriveled, and nearly all research left in the US is funded by corporations seeking large returns in the near future. US basic science has suffered as a result.

        But the EU and China are becoming scientific powerhouses even as the US declines. The EU build the LHC, is funding the 1 billion Euro Human Brain Project, and is building the Extremely Large Telescope. China is taking over solar technology and itching to get into space.

        The human race isn't losing its curiosity or scientific ability -- just the US.

        American Presidents: 43 men, 0 women. Ready for Hillary

        by atana on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 09:32:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  "organic" doesn't mean 18th century (9+ / 0-)

      Organic farmers use all kinds of cutting edge techniques, and drive and benefit from a fair amount of research even at large universities like UC Davis.

      Some high tech, organic techniques include:
      - Remote sensing, using satellite data to evaluate the water and nutrient needs of the crop
      - computer-monitored drip irrigation
      - just-in-time watering and nutrient application
      - highly mechanized harvesting and planting equipment
      - application of symbiotic bacteria

      Some techniques that organic farmers use that have moved back into "conventional" tactics:
      - crop rotation
      - cover crops
      - mulch
      - no-till techniques

      Really, it is a continuum, and microclimates change things quite a bit. In my area, the majority of vineyards are organic. In part, this is because people believe in it, but also, this area doesn't have the same pest pressure as some wine areas further south, and so there isn't the same need to use the chemical toolbox to produce a market-viable crop.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 08:49:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And how does (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Midwest is best, Rick Aucoin

        their yield compare?

        "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

        by happy camper on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 09:10:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  They're lower than conventional agriculture (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          happy camper, OrganicChemist

          using the same technologies.

          Ain't nothing specifically "organic" about telemetry, drip irrigation, using microherd. All technologies that were developed on, and commonly used on, conventional farms.

          •  Organic seems to be (5+ / 0-)

            a marketing term as much as an agricultural method.

            "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

            by happy camper on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 10:30:29 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  "Organic" is entirely a marketing term. (4+ / 0-)

              In another life, I was the only person to ever get an integrated aquaponic food production facility certified fully organic under OMRI standards. I know the Rule inside out and backwards.

              Umm..anything on FDA GRASI, GRASII ( Generally regarded as safe (in the 50's)) is suitable. You'd be freakin amazed what's on those lists. Certainly not the kind of thing people think of as "organic".

          •  Not necessarily (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RMForbes, mrkvica, KenBee

            yield variations are very dependent on the crop, the microclimate, and the soil biome.

            These techniques were and are developed and pushed by all kinds of farms and farmers. My point is that many organic farmers are using cutting edge technology and research to improve yields, just as other farmers are (or aren't). There are farmers who are all about DaddyDidItThatWay and some who are all about innovation, and they don't neatly divide into conventional vs. organic.

            And, both sides freely steal technologies and techniques from each other as suit them and their farms, as it should be.

            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

            by elfling on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 11:02:43 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  That's not actually true (0+ / 0-)

            Organic biodynamic methods can easily produce increased yields because they grow healthy soil structure that produces healthier plants which are also naturally resistant to disease and pests. Some organic farms see a 20% increase in yields along with lower waste/spoilage. The only downside is that these organic biodynamic methods are more labor intensive which makes them more attractive to small local cooperative operations and community gardens.

            Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT. I may make you feel but I can't make you think..Jethro Tull

            by RMForbes on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 02:03:06 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  In my area, I understand yields are the same (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RiveroftheWest, RMForbes, mrkvica, KenBee

          for the grapes. Early, reliable frosts do the work that pesticides do in other areas.

          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

          by elfling on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 10:59:21 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  you drank the Monsanto kool-aid (0+ / 0-)

      Didn't you? The answer, according to numerous independent studies, IS organic farming.  GMO crops don't offer statistically significant yield increases, and they have not reduced pesticide use (they have more than doubled it).  As far as the effectiveness of organic farming, do you know that 30% of the farms in the world (the non-factory-scale ones) already produce 70% of the world's food? Have you read the numerous UN and other NGO analyses and reports (presented in the popular press in articles such as "UN Report Says Small-Scale Organic Farming Only Way to Feed the World")?  It is so sad that so many people have bought into the agribiz propaganda about feeding the world's population, rather than looking to science-based studies and evaluations for an understanding of global food issues.  Please apply your own tag line to Monsanto's fairy tales!  And, PS, it is NOT true that glyphosate is less toxic than other herbicides -- again, recent independent (i. e., not conducted by Monsanto) research is showing otherwise.

  •  I wonder if you could maybe just pull the weeds (5+ / 0-)

    out of the ground.
    We don't need to solve everything with chemicals.
    But I guess when all you own is a bucket of poison everything looks like a helpless victim.

    "And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover, And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over." - John Masefield

    by mungley on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 07:49:45 AM PDT

  •  It's called evolution... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RadGal70, RMForbes

    But then, that's just a theory...

  •  Thank You (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RMForbes

      As the Organic construct grows WORLDWIDE, the plants to be discovered in the internet age, like discovering the taste of an heirloom peach at a local farmers market.
                               

    March AGAINST monsatanOHagentorange 3/25/13 a time warp

    by 3rock on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 08:27:35 AM PDT

  •  As a person who worked in biological control ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mrkvica, KenBee

    of weeds and pest insects I saw a lot that disturbed me.  One herbicide plot in the desert was totally devoid of life, despite the mesquite, yucca, four-winged salt bush, creosote and tarbush in the surrounding plots. I felt like I was visiting the moon!

    Resistance also can show up in some weeds without warning (as my associates have observed) - probably a result of the so-called "parasitic or selfish DNA." I believe that at least some of this "excess" DNA serves as a toolbox that can be turned on under stress.  Some of it is probably junk, but not all by any means.

  •  Read "Hunter Come Home" by Richard McKenna (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KenBee

    for a frightening Science Fiction vision of a planet where every plant is turned against the humans attempting to tame it, precisely because the humans are using the strongest herbicides they can to clear a space for non-native forest and grassland (for ritual hunts).

    That was the first vision that popped into my mind when I looked at the last two frames of this cartoon.

    McKenna achieved fame for writing "The Sand Pebbles" but also wrote SF/Fantasy that is very powerful to this day.

  •  Uber-Weed = Giant Hogweed? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KenBee
  •  I get the cartoon, but the pesticide doesn't have (0+ / 0-)

    to be (and likely won't be) 'stronger', it will just poison the plants in a different way.

    Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain.

    by Midwest is best on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 10:18:27 AM PDT

  •  Uber Weed (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mrkvica, KenBee

    A weed that drives you where you want to go and makes the taxi industry obsolete.  Until the self-driving car comes and makes the Uber weed itself obsolete.

  •  Go organic. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RMForbes

    Please don't poison your children, your pets, birds, bees and our water tables with that toxic goo.

    Feel trickled on yet?

    by War4Sale on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 11:06:40 AM PDT

  •  Growing hemp as a normal rotation crop will (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KenBee

    eliminate the need for herbicides completely. Even super weeds can't compete with fast growing cannabis hemp plants. Plus, it would give our farmers another valuable cash crop.

    Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT. I may make you feel but I can't make you think..Jethro Tull

    by RMForbes on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 01:26:30 PM PDT

  •  This is NOT what I expected (0+ / 0-)

    when I saw the title in my feed.

    I'll believe corporations are people when one comes home from Afghanistan in a body bag.

    by mojo11 on Wed Jul 09, 2014 at 09:48:43 AM PDT

  •  Population expands as food production increases (0+ / 0-)

    If you haven't read Jared Diamond's "Collapse" and why would you it's nearly 600 pages long I will condense one hypothesis for you.

    The book is a study of the reasons that many well-known civilizations collapsed. Here's one: during periods of good weather and plentiful water agricultural societies grew more crops. The consequence of more food was more people.

    When, inevitably, a change of weather and water caused declines in crops, the society began to overextend itself from its natural boundaries. The act of overextension itself, as well as the measures these societies took to remedy the situation often made things worse. Finally, people descend to unspeakable behaviors to survive and the whole shebang is gone.

    We can't have infinite growth on a finite planet. We did not learn the lesson we should have from the famines that are part and parcel of living on earth.  The Green Revolution hastened the war for natural resources and has been a major factor in the growth of conflict all over the world.

    No, I don't know the answer, either, but it is NOT thinking up more way to poison our planet so Monsanto's stockholders are happier.  

     

  •  It appears that the DF's didn't learn the lesso... (0+ / 0-)

    It appears that the DF's didn't learn the lesson from the over application of pesticides and the rise of superbugs or the over use of antibiotics in everything that has led to germs and bacteria that are now resistent to most of the antibiotics on the market today.

  •  Weeds (0+ / 0-)

    Mankind has had a really decent method of removing weeds for generations- it was called a hoe.

  •  Solutions from the Land Institute (0+ / 0-)

    In a small town in Kansas, Salina, they are working on a solution to the problem, with promising results. Unfortunately, the USDA has not been very helpful either.

    The Land Institute crops beat weeds by developing hybrids with VERY deep roots, much as the natural prairie had.

    I recommend visiting their site, as they are doing amazing work that can counter act the problems described above.

    The science behind the Land Institute

  •  Corporate farms are huge areas of land... (0+ / 0-)

    worked by very few people. It would be virtually impossible to grow on the scale they do w/o using chemical fertilizers that destroy the health and fertility of the land, vast amounts of pesticides, and herbicides. Plus, if a problem occurs during production or processing, a huge number of people are affected. I periodically read the current food recall list. Who's ever heard of people dying from cucumbers before giant corporate farms. This is why I try to grow as much food as I can, for myself.

    Corporate directed farming of animal products is at least as bad. Processing is even worse. Unneeded overuse of antibiotics has accelerated the production of resistant bacteria. Supposedly the massive corporate feedlots was largely responsible for deadly E. coli strains.

    The USDA got it's teeth pulled, and is currently recommending that federal inspectors get pulled from poultry inspection lines. They're recommending that the corporations should inspect themselves and are allowing them to speed up the production lines to the point that only a few seconds will be available to visually inspect a few birds. Results in countries that have licensed the new procedures is feces on the carcasses at the end of the line. I don't know how feces even gets on the carcases. I never have any on my homegrown and processed poultry. The USDA solution? Allow use of chemicals that were previously banned to sterilize the meat. They are already allowing the use of chlorine and ammonia for disinfection. It's no wonder that chicken has no taste.

    After the corporate "farms" put most of the small farmers out of work, we have very few places to turn. I keep telling people that engineering a system of centralized anything is bad ju ju. You've created the potential of a single point of failure screwing huge numbers of people simultaneously. If components of a distributed system fail, the unaffected areas can temporarily fill the shortfalls. Centralized systems ARE more efficient as far as amount produced for the volume of resources used, but this mostly benefits the corporations. Prices to the consumer may initially be lower than what can be produced by a farmer, but the consumer loses so much on other levels, jobs lost, reduction of quality w/ few or no alternatives, inefficiency in responding to and ameliorating problems, and poor customer support just to mention a few. When you buy from someone that you can physically look in the eyes, usually you get better results.

    Even when this was first happening I knew that it was bad for the long term. Local production creates more jobs, and when the producer lives in the same locale it's customers, there's more incentive to do a good job when the customer knows where you live.

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