A pestilence of poisons

Published in Poisons Beware

Pesticides safe? Pull the other one, it's got bells on!

Those who believe that pesticides in the environment can be safe are naive or gullible. Lots of seemingly plausible reasons are put forward to support the pesticide industry. None stands up to proper scrutiny. Pesticide use on normal crops and the production of pesticide-orientated genetically modified crops are unsustainable. Glyphosate-based herbicides are used in ever-increasing quantities worldwide, and are demonstrably causing ever-increasing harm to human health and the environment.

While pesticide users may be naive and/or gullible, some who support the production, sale and use of pesticides are cynical and corrupt, driven by the profit motive despite being at least half aware of the downside of pesticide use.

The earth which produces our food cannot do its job if it is blackened and depleted by poisons.

The eerie poem 'On a White Horse' by Mike Galsworthy is a warning: pillaging the earth of its natural resources can only lead to disaster.

 

 

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  • More than 200 barriers were taken down last year, helping to restore fish migration routes and boost biodiversity and climate resilience

    At least 239 barriers, including dams and weirs, were removed across 17 countries in Europe in 2021, in a record-breaking year for dam removals across the continent.

    Spain led the way, with 108 structures taken out of the country’s rivers. “Our efforts to expand dam removals across Europe are gathering speed,” said Pao Fernández Garrido, project manager for the World Fish Migration Foundation, who helped produce Dam Removal Europe’s annual report.

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  • Analysis: Highs likely to reach mid-30s celsius in Spain and France, 10C above normal, and may break 40C

    The exceptional heatwave conditions across parts of India and Pakistan over the past few weeks have been in the news – although the region has in fact endured extreme heat since March. Through the next few days, although nowhere near as extreme as in India and Pakistan, anomalous warmth will be affecting large portions of western Europe in the first significant heat of spring.

    Throughout April, large parts of Europe experienced below-normal temperature trends, with winds often emanating from a north-easterly direction. However, over the past week or so, weather patterns have rearranged to encourage more of a south or south-westerly feed of air across Europe, and temperatures have been picking up as a result.

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  • Friends of the Earth says there will be no market for Whitehaven coal as Europe’s steelmakers move to ‘green steel’

    A new coalmine proposed for Cumbria is likely to be redundant before it even opens because the steelmakers that are its target market are moving so rapidly away from fossil fuels, analysis from green campaigners claims.

    Steelmakers across Europe are moving to “green steel”, which uses renewable energy and modern techniques to avoid the need for coking coal of the type that the proposed mine in Whitehaven would produce.

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  • Duisky, Scottish Highlands: The process of harvesting the mussels we eat starts with a morning boat ride on a milky loch

    While most other crofters are minding their fields for lambs, we are watching the water. Loch Eil reflects the soft grey clouds rolling down the corries, but closer inspection reveals milky drifts below its surface. The mussels are spawning.

    Mytilus edulis release sperm and eggs into the water, making a swimming soup of fertilisation that births billions of mussel larvae. These infinitesimal shellfish float freely with the current and tide.

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  • Simon Fairlie responds to George Monbiot’s article on farming and sustainable food production

    George Monbiot (On a vegan planet Britain could feed 200 million people, 13 May) quotes me as calculating that “while a diet containing a moderate amount of meat, dairy and eggs would require the use of 11m hectares of land (4m of which would be arable), a vegan diet would demand a total of just 3m”.

    He doesn’t point out that these figures relate to chemical agriculture using artificial fertilisers and pesticides – practices that he later says he doesn’t support. I also made estimates for organic vegan agriculture with green manure being ploughed directly into the soil, and for organic husbandry in which green manure is fed to dairy cows whose manure is composted, while pigs and chickens are substantially fed on food waste. Both systems require about 6.5m hectares of arable land to provide a healthy diet for everyone in the country. The vegan system is slightly more efficient in its land use, while the livestock system provides a more varied diet.

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  • Ministers instead urged to focus on reducing flights and halting airport expansion to cut carbon emissions

    The UK government’s “jet zero” plan to eliminate carbon emissions from aviation relies on unproven or nonexistent technology and “sustainable” fuel, and is likely to result in ministers missing their legally binding emissions targets, according to a report.

    The study from Element Energy, which has worked for the government and the climate change committee in the past, says instead of focusing on such unreliable future developments, ministers should work to reduce the overall number of flights and halt airport expansion over the next few years.

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  • Alok Sharma says global crises should increase, not diminish, nations’ determination to cut greenhouse gases made in Glasgow climate pact

    Failure to act on the promises made at the Glasgow Cop26 climate summit last year would be “an act of monstrous self-harm”, the UK’s president of the conference will warn today in Glasgow.

    Alok Sharma, the cabinet minister who led the UK-hosted summit that ended with agreement to limit global heating to 1.5C, will say that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and rising energy and food prices, have changed the global outlook drastically in the six months since.

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  • EU concern over ‘cruel’ practice of taking blood from mares to create hormone products that increase reproduction in farmed animals

    Iceland is under pressure to ban the production of a hormone extracted from pregnant horses, a practice that has been described as “cruel” and “animal abuse”.

    The hormone is used by farmers across the UK and Europe to increase reproduction in pigs, cows and other female farm animals.

    Pregnant Mare Serum Gonadotropin (PMSG) is extracted from pregnant horses in Iceland during the summer at “blood farms”, before being converted into powder and shipped around the world.

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  • Fatih Birol says ‘carbon bombs’, revealed in Guardian investigation, will not solve global energy crisis

    The world’s leading energy economist has warned against investing in large new oil and gas developments, which would have little impact on the current energy crisis and soaring fuel prices but spell devastation to the planet.

    Fatih Birol, the executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), was responding to an investigation in the Guardian that revealed fossil fuel companies were planning huge “carbon bomb” projects that would drive climate catastrophe.

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  • As awareness grows of the environmental impact of the cut-flower industry, new growers are selling sustainable blooms straight from their fields

    Close to the River Teme, in the shadow of the Malvern Hills, with three farm cats playing around our feet, Meg Edmonds is showing me around an old barn that she uses to store, arrange and wrap her flowers. It is busy with colour and life. There are tulips of every shade in crates, narcissi and ranunculi in buckets and vases. There are pots of snakeshead fritillary just outside the door, and a vase of blue and white anemones by the window, in water, so that Edmonds can make a note of how many times they open and close in the sun before they’re over. “I want to be able to tell people that information,” she says. They’re currently on number four. She pulls out a huge green stem that looks as if it has been ripped out of Jurassic Park. It turns out to be from an artichoke plant. There are dried artichokes elsewhere, their fluffy innards bursting out, to be used in dried arrangements over winter. We walk around the farm. Edmonds points out shrubs and trees that have ended up in her work, from a sumptuous trailing rosemary bush to the flowering branches of a crab apple tree.

    Everything here is useful. It has also been grown within walking distance, either on the family farm, or on a patch of land next to the farm shop, at the other end of the village, where Edmonds’s flowers sell in big, beautiful bunches. Edmonds and her husband farm livestock and vegetables on his family farm (they are third generation), and converted to organic practices 20 years ago. After moving away from selling the farm’s livestock to supermarkets, in favour of selling in their own farm shop, she started to think that there might be a way of doing the same for flowers. “I didn’t realise that there was this burgeoning market for local seasonal, mixed, beautiful things, like I had in my garden and like my friends raved over,” she says.

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