Healthy or Sterile?: Creating Biodiverse Systems

| 9/17/2014 7:57:00 AM

Tags: Colony Collapse Disorder, beekeeping, ecology, pesticides, Colorado, David R. Braden IV,

 Living Systems Institute Staff

Have you heard of the vanishing bees? You may know that commercial beekeepers are reporting losses of more than 30% of their colonies every year. Implicated in those losses is a class of pesticides known as systemics that show up in both the pollen and nectar of plants that have been treated. These poisons are common in insecticides sold to the public and in the potting soil of the plants that you buy.

Because pollinators are so important to the human food supply this is a great opportunity to examine our use of poisons. The issue goes beyond which pesticides are too harmful and which pesticides are acceptably dangerous. Here is the question; “Do you want a healthy system or a sterile system?”

Healthy Systems vs. Sterile SystemsBees Talking To Each Other

When we use a poison to eliminate some species from our yard there is a series of consequences.  It is not only the collateral damage from the poison – all the bugs that die from direct contact with the poison. It is all the species that rely on the one we poisoned. And all the species that rely on those species. That process leads toward a sterile system and the end result of that process is a hospital-like environment. In hospitals, the only things that grow are super bugs that cannot be killed.

The most beautiful places you have ever been are healthy systems. They are healthy because they have a full range of species participating. They are complete food webs that process nutrients through complete growth, decay, and regrowth cycles in quantities that allow the participation of many species.

Industrial agriculture argues that it is necessary to grow food in monocultures — large areas of a single crop — if we are going to feed the world. So the argument goes, poisons are necessary to protect the crops when you grow a monoculture. This process and the use of poisons leads to huge acreages of essentially sterile cropland where nothing grows except those species that become resistant to the poisons used.

10/14/2014 1:33:37 PM

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