In the mid-20th century, technology and chemistry began to replace manpower in agricultural production. More people moved to the cities. Efficiencies gained through chemical fertilizers and pesticides, allowed fewer people to produce more livestock and crops, intensifying and industrializing agriculture. Monocultures are easier to manage than diversity.
Consolidation and economies of scale further intensified production. Independent producers slowly gave way to large-scale corporate farms and confinement livestock operations with attendant environmental issues such as non-point source pollution. Lags in yield were compensated for by the addition of chemicals and intensifying management practices. The pace continues to increase.
While selection and crossbreeding have improved human life since hunting and gathering way gave way to agrarian society, in recent years it has been accelerated by the advent of direct genetic modification. There is nothing inherently bad in precisely modifying genes, but advancing techniques without careful thought opens the door to unintended consequences. It’s the unintended consequences, not the techniques that have the potential for devastation.
Case in point, crop plants with inherent resistance to Roundup ®, a now ubiquitous herbicide developed by Monsanto, a agri-chemical giant which merged with Bayer, another chemical behemoth, in recent years. While developers and testers heralded it as a way to decrease the use of herbicides, there is now evidence that weeds have developed resistance to Roundup® actually requiring more herbicide instead of less.
Critics argue Bayer-Monsanto positioned itself to reap profits at the expense of the environment. Bayer-Monsanto maintains it is addressing the rising need to produce more food for more people on less land.
While the argument continues to rage, it points out the need for holistic approaches that require looking at the big picture and conscientiously trying to identify and avoid unintended consequences. At some point, an unbalanced system can’t be sustained by adding inputs.
And unintended consequences aren’t limited to farming and row crops. Confinement livestock operations take animals off the range where they efficiently convert the sun’s energy in the form of plants into protein and put the grazers in an artificial environment that is maintained with inputs such as grain. When animals of any species are overcrowded in an artificial environment it creates problems with health and behavior as well as logistical concerns like waste management.
Game species, such as elk and deer, succumb to the same pressures when they are subjected to an unnatural environment. Case in point, Chronic Wasting Disease, a fatal neurological disorder that is now spreading through elk and deer. While the disease may have been present in isolation in the wild, it appeared and first became a threat in a confined elk herd at a research station in Colorado. With the advent of intense deer management, where whitetail deer are managed like livestock to grow large antlers, it has spread at an alarming pace and is now considered a serious threat to the well-being of free-ranging herds.
In another example at nearby Yellowstone National Park, the park herds of bison and elk serve as the nation’s reservoir for brucellosis, a livestock disease that has been almost eradicated. Instead of being managed holistically, the herds are managed intensively. They congregate because they are fed. They overpopulate because they are protected from predators and hunters. They are not vaccinated because it’s “not natural.” They incubate and transmit infection.
Now is the time to stop, look at the bigger picture and begin to restore the earth’s productivity by working in concert with nature instead of against her.
Read more about invasive species / biology:
During the Drought
In low rain areas, maintaining plant coverage through periodic planned grazing and limited mechanized soil disruption are basic principles of regenerative farming and regenerative grazing. These work wonders for cows, crops and wildlife. NOTE: […]
Hailing From the Primordial Realm, Meet Mother Nature: Goddess of Earth’s Ecosystems
Don’t miss this hilarious little video from Whole Foods. As they put it, “With over 50 (million) years of experience, Mother Nature’s job is to maintain the harmony that keeps the planet spinning. Things […]
Bayer Blasts ‘Unscientific’ Rejection by Mexican Regulator of GMO Corn Permit
As discussed below, Mexico does not want Monsanto/Bayer’s Roundup-laced food. Any discussion of GMO safety is in truth a discussion of Roundup (glyphosate). GMO corn is modified to tolerate the poison, which is linked to […]
“Desertification is a fancy word for land that is turning to desert,” states Allan Savory in his quiet but inspirational form. NOTE: this post was originally published on May 10, 2017 Desertification is […]
Here is a gulley treatment that restores grassland and recharges aquifers. NOTE: this post was originally published to this site on May 8, 2017. Gulleys for Grassland Restoration from Christopher Gill on Vimeo.
Chronic Wasting Disease May Soon Spread to Humans, Warns CDC
According to experts quoted in the article below, “It is probable that human cases of chronic wasting disease associated with consumption with contaminated meat will be documented in the years ahead,” going on to add, […]
Prince Charles: How Cattle Can Restore Habitat and Wildlife
“Prince Charles comments on Allan Savory and his integrated approach to ranching and farming, and the role ruminants for the health of grasslands. Segment from speech given by the Prince to the IUCN World Conservation […]
Public demand for healthy, tasty food produced in a manner that respects nature is the driving force behind the growing acceptance of holistic agriculture. This 20-minute video discusses how sustainably managed livestock can help restore damaged […]
Quoting the very interesting article below, “The future of oysters in Texas looks pretty bright. From thriving oyster restoration to new oyster mariculture opportunities, it will be exciting to see how things continue to evolve […]
Native American Lawmakers Seek Federal Help on Montana Bison
“Because they are mismanaged, bison carry and spread brucellosis, a highly contagious, bacterially-caused disease that causes spontaneous abortions in cattle and other animals, and also poses a serious threat to human health. The goal of […]
Wildfires Threaten Urban Water Supplies, Long After the Flames Are Out
The article below discusses the long term effect of catastrophic forest fires on drinking water. The authors say that 2/3 of America’s drinking water comes from forests. The fires greatly increase soil erosion and this […]
Holistic management uses a long term planning process that assigns to environmental and social outcomes the same importance as profits. In addition to being particularly suited to the deserts of far-West Texas, its grazing and […]
As discussed in the article below, the new “green” climate initiatives will probably include carbon credits. If the past predicts the future, proponents of these subsides will claim they are for small operators, but in […]