May 13, 2007

Don't we ever learn?

After mad cow and chicken fever, you'd think people would be thinking twice about the wisdom of our industrial agricultural methods. But you'd be wrong.

The latest crisis is the massive die-off of honey-bees. This is becoming a serious threat to our food supplies, which depend on the bees for pollinations.

A number of possible factors are being considered; cell-phone radiation, GM crops, new pesticides, immune collapse due to stress.

Some of these may be partial explanations. I don't buy the idea of cell-phones having a major effect; we've saturated the ether with RF radiation for decades now and the picayune amount added by cell-phone towers shouldn't make that big a difference. (Pity though, it would be grand to have an excuse to ban the damned things)

GM crops seem to be a more likely causal agent; these weird genetic brews have been unleashed haphazardly on the environment and we are just beginning to see the fall-out.

But it seems that there is an over-arching systemic issue here; same one that was behind the mad-cow and crazy-chicken episodes - the greedy capitalist itch to wrack more and more out of Mother Nature.

Bee-keeping has gone industrial. The same intemperate use of chemical inputs that characterize the keeping of larger stock also goes into the bee-hives. Honey is just a side-line for modern bee-keepers, the big bucks is in trucking the bees around the countryside to perform crop pollination services, a highly unnatural life for the bees to say the least. What's more, some bright bulb thought of the idea of making pre-formed combs larger than nature's to force the bees to grow bigger.

The really telling detail is that organic bee-keepers who use natural sized combs and no chemical inputs are not experiencing bee death.

4 comments:

doug rogers said...

No comments on the post above actually, but wow, am I glad I stumbled in upon this place. I've spent the better part of the last few hours poking about.

I'm wrestling still with an editorial you wrote in the recent Buddhadharma magazine, and was looking for a way to write to you about my questions. I still seem to be of the Yogacara "mind" about things, and a bit still of an athiest in terms of the reality of hell and heaven states and incarnation.

But I'm a bit tired right now, so I'll come back later.

Jay said...

This seems too obvious.

Wait for Monsanto to release a GMO bee which is immune to all of the chemicals it has designed to kill the bees.

It can name it's price.

(evil laughing bwahaha)

Nyiti (Gabor) said...

We didn't learn in Savatthi, why would we learn in New York?

Some people got enlighetened since, but that's their (impersonal) buisness.

It's actually an intriquing question. What would be that substantial change, that would produce a world culture where virtue and wisdom is something respected and sought after?
I don't mean the change of individuals in high positions, that's not a lasting effect. What's necessary is a structure, a psychological momentum, an environment that produces such leaders, and that's relatively long lasting.

For example of a similar phenomena, the idea of property is such a useful concept in the making of just law systems, that as population increased, countries adopted it one after the other. (Historicians, correct me if I'm wrong.) Of course this doesn't mean that just laws need the notion of property, I think it's more like that it's something that the general worldly attitude provokes.

Returning to pop-views:

If I think of Thailand, the practice of the bhikkhus is influential on many people, although I don't know how they are percieved by people like a buisnessman, or a student.

If I think of India -- there are many religions, but one thing is clearly established: the tradition of samanas, 'religious non-priest seekers'.

This, apart from the influence of Eastern cultures, I think is almost completely absent in Western culture. The presence of an unworldly attention is way less, than in the East. There's hardly any samanasannya in sight...

anonyrod said...

We live in a perfect world, according to the laws of cause and effect, and the inevitable melting of the ice packs, destruction of wildlife, and probable destruction of all major life forms in due time will be but a small blip in the impersonal characteristic of nature; meaning no big deal in the overall picture.

Global warming and its causes obviously have their effects, and even in local news one hears about some avengekali folderol who died in his own methane. However, global warming is simply an excuse for people’s greed anger and delusion; something to pin the blame on, and it is not an issue of leaders or laws but the ignorance behind them.

While the Japanese are still trying to figure out who Harry Burton is, the rest of us should buy stocks of honey while they last, even though commercial honey has always been part sugar water, and enjoy the moment.