Friday, May 01, 2009

Pigs, Productivity & Pitchforks

One of the godfathers of the permaculture/organic farming movement, Masanobu Fukuoka, once said:

"If we throw mother nature out the window, she comes back in the door with a pitchfork."

We've had the first confirmed case of swine flu in our town, Newcastle upon Tyne, someone who'd recently visited Mexico. She's OK and so are his flatmates, and the infection numbers in Mexico are stabilising, but with a pregnant woman and a toddler in the house, it is hard not to worry a little bit.

And why has it happened? We create an industrial style of agriculture where disease flourishes without intervention, then export it to poor countries where costs are low and standards are lower (the two obviously relate) and on top of that we misuse antibiotics to promote growth further. And what happens?

It's another case of where our "success" in raising our standard of living in the West is coming back to bite us (cf climate change, AIDS, drought). Commentators in the press may sneer at the organic movement and say "it's OK for those who can afford it", but the question is, can we afford not to do it?

And, of course, once again, it is the poorest who have been hit hardest.

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