Wednesday, April 09, 2008

I am hungry

So our final candidate is catastrophic crop failure. This one is the most dangerous. Right now major research companies are working to genetically alter every available seed. This can be a wonderful thing but on the whole it will be disastrous.
Every creature and plant on this earth is co-dependent. They aren't kidding when they call it the circle of life people.
Someone somewhere started playing around with how we could make seed resistant to pests. By doing this we have denied a food source for a bunch of bugs. Poor bugs right? why do we even need them? Well bugs are food for other creatures and because the bugs can't find a meal they die. Now the next bug eating group including many birds can't find a meal and they die and so on and so on. The next trick the researchers did was create a bug resistant plant that turned out to be sterile. A plant that cannot procreate. It makes no seed people. This is great for the company, it gets to sell its seed over and over with ever increasing costs. The fact that it is seedless means that the animals that depend on seed can't find a decent meal. Not so great. Because there is a huge class of seed eating creatures that poop that means any of the seed that passes though them can create a new plant. Without seed there is no new growth.
Right now researchers are focusing their attention on the big three:grain, corn and rice. The food no one in the world can do without. Every country has their preference for one of them and they farm for them intensively.
I can understand why they want a seed that can do amazing things..bug resistant, drought resistant, increased vitamins, minerals and proteins. Efficient food for the masses. But why sterile? What country in it's right mind would hold themselves hostage to a research company ?
If the company wants more money for it's seed how can you refuse to pay it? You no longer have any seed of your own.
Let's say everyone sits down in a room for a secret meeting and they all agree that genetically modified seed is the only way to go. They are made aware of the possible environmental repercussions, they are aware they are now completely dependent on their science partners.
Let's say that the WHO and the IMF fully back this new way of life. They will only approve loans to countries that have converted to genetic modification.
At first this will be wonderful. Huge crops..lot's of food. Then the surplus problem begins.
There are only a few ways to deal with surplus food. You can drop the prices dramatically in the hopes it will sell but here's the problem. Everyone is growing their own supercrops and they are all hugely successful, They don't have any need to buy anyone else's crops. They can't sell their own surplus , there is no way in hell they are buying yours.
A large part of the worlds economic markets base themselves around commodities. These markets would begin to be redundant. If you know the crops are great and they are cheap who is going to invest money to trade in their future?
So the markets will have to change. Remember that the selling of crops is huge business for almost every country on the planet. What happens when that money disappears?

So on a positive note you appear to have a great food supply. On the negative side your economy has taken a huge blow from the loss of income . A new problem soon becomes apparent. Hundreds of small businesses survived by supporting agriculture. Petrochemical companies that made pesticides are no longer necessary. Mechanization has made farm workers redundant.
Plants that don't need constant tending and grow in splendid organized rows need only a machine to plant the seed and a machine to harvest the crop. One more machine to make the ground ready for planting. Remember there is little need for fertilizer, these seeds are modified to need little. Really one machine could do all these tasks. The technology is already available.
All it needs is a couple of minimum wage drivers. We loose a few more farm equipment manufacturers and suppliers.
Of course we know that most countries wont be able to resist pushing the limits of the modifications. They will plant anywhere. Forests and meadows will disappear even faster than they are already. Edges of deserts will be tried.
The plant life and the animals will be sacrificed to the new crops.
More and more countries will become reliant on one crop with nothing available to replace it.

This is the recipe for catastrophic crop failure. First it begins with the economy that surrounds the crop that fails. There is no employment and there is no available markets to make any money. This makes a country unstable and anxious. Then the time arrives to purchase the new seed. Remember the crops are sterile, you a completely dependent. You discover that you don't have enough money to buy the same amount of seed.
You look around and see that some countries are having no problem coming up with the money for theirs. So the surplus continues. You downsize your crops. Your surplus disappears. Over the next few years your economy worsens and so does your neighbours. Unemployment is rampant and your country is drowning in debt. You can't afford the seed anymore and you have no replacement. Everyone is in the same boat except a few. The world economy is in shambles.
The few countries that can afford the seed continue to grow.
They still have surplus but now no one can afford to buy it.
Because of the environmental devastation created by a mono crop the weather changes faster than predicted.
With economic disaster comes rampant poverty and rebellion. Everyone begins to fight over seed, the land and weather to grow it.
By allowing a company to control your food and having no backup you sentence your country to poverty and starvation.
By making it global you sentence the whole world to disaster.

Diversity exists because evolution did it's research. Having thousands of different ways to feed yourself protects you from starvation.

Our biggest failure is relying so heavily on three basic crops, grain, corn and rice. To then genetically alter the seeds and make them sterile is blatantly insane. To commodify food and base part of your economic fortune on it also demonstrates a stunning arrogance and stupidity.

Food is for survival. To market it as a luxury is monstrous.
It's better to accept a few bugs, it's better to be forced to grow native crops that have their own natural resistance to drought. It's better to allow seeds to procreate.

The moment you start fucking around with mother nature she will cheerfully abandon you. If you are unsatisfied with the incredible complexities of our natural food you are certifiably stupid and probably crazy.

Have a look around at your local grocery store. Look at the ingredients in the food you eat every day. Now think about what you are going to eat if grain, corn and rice disappear. Think about what those beef cattle are going to eat when grain has disappeared. What will we feed those billions and billions of chickens?
No cows, no milk, no steak. No chickens? say goodbye to KFC. No grain? No bread, no cookies, no cake, no cat or dog kibble........No rice? wow, half the world will have no carb source.
It's just a little list off the top of my head. I can bet you can think of thousands more.

Now we look at a different perspective, using the three most necessary survival food crops as a replacement for oil.
Corn is used to create ethanol, a source of fuel to replace oil. Right now corn is becoming so expensive it is only for countries that can afford it. Corn isn't only being grown for food anymore, it's for making ethanol. Corn is a terrible choice for ethanol. It requires huge amounts of corn to create a low energy fuel. America ignored the countries that efficiently produce high energy ethanol by using non critical food crops: sugar beets, sugar cane....instead they chose the most inefficient. They chose a critical survival crop that requires large amounts of water, fertilizer and land mass to grow.

One can only guess what would happen if some researcher figured out a way to make rice and grain into ethanol....oh right, the technology already exists to do this. Anyone who has ever drank sake knows it's an alcohol that can be burned. Grain alcohol has blinded or killed a lot of people. I think at least one in a thousand of us knows some one who knows someone who has an operating still right now. They know very well that grain alcohol burns very,very well.

What happens when oil becomes scarce and too expensive for all but the very rich? Don't you already know?
We will burn our staple goods so we can drive our cars. And if that means that our surplus disappears or we price that surplus outrageously will we care that entire countries will be pushed into starvation?
Only when American Idol performs it's American Idol Gives Back telethon once a year probably.
I love it that we want to be entertained by the starving before we are willing to give them a buck(as long as it's tax deductible ).

Catastrophic crop loss through genetic modification and enforced sterility of the seeds, catastrophic crop loss because we choose to use our food as energy, crop loss because we have destroyed the land, the water and air, loss because we have changed the weather.
This is the only one I can see clearly in our immediate future.
We all bought into the bullshit that our worlds will end if we don't have oil so in response we are crudely destroying the world to find it's replacement.

Personally I would happily choose to walk, ride a bike, drive an electric car before I would support burning and boiling my FOOD for fuel and allowing people to starve so I can drive to WalMart for the fifth time this week.


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