Archive for the Organic agriculture Category

Red Earth

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Organic agriculture, Revolution, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 20, 2017 by rgwallace

Red Earth 4They lived like monkeys still, while their new god powers lay around them in the weeds. ― Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Mars

For a column to be published on Earth Day, the day of the March for Science, a reporter asked me three questions: Why are capitalism and environmentalism inherently incompatible? Why is industrial farming harmful to the environment? And why are corporate sustainability and carbon footprint reduction programs so often a farce?

Drawing from previous essays, the newly emergent ecological Marx, both sides of the John Bellamy Foster and Jason Moore debate, and the clash over environmental destruction under pre-capitalist formations, I answered all three together in what follows, parts of which the columnist may excerpt.

Capitalism is fundamentally different from any other social organization in human history. There is the matter of scale, of course. The environmental destruction arising from the system’s mode of production is now global and geological.
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Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Farming Human Pathogens book, HIV, Influenza, Organic agriculture, Revolution, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , on February 2, 2016 by rgwallace

Book tumblrThe book rollout continues.

Here’s the Tumblr page for my new book, Big Farms Make Big Flu. It’ll include author appearances, reviews, events around the book, vids and articles, and related curiosities.

The book–essays on infectious disease, agribusiness, and the nature of science–is available for pre-order here.

The Red Coates

Posted in Ecological resilience, Organic agriculture, Revolution with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 28, 2015 by rgwallace

It’s been something of a mystery to me the extent to which so many white people are personally offended black people are objecting to being stopped and killed by police.

Of course it’s about oppression–each murder serves as a message to black and white communities alike–but where is the line of logic that makes the action an argument, however absurd?

Even the possibility of deescalating a confrontation with a clearly discombobulated Jeremy Dole in his wheelchair earlier this week, captured in the video above, is waved away in favor of a public execution on the streets of Wilmington, Delaware. A firing squad is repeatedly the default response.

As Alain Badiou on the Paris Commune persuasively argues, what happens out on the street is philosophy in practice.

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Eating the Brown Acid

Posted in Ecological resilience, Organic agriculture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2015 by rgwallace

paintingThe surrealism packed in Stephanie Strom’s piece on a new ractopamine-free label the USDA approved turns the newsprint into blotting paper.

Ractopamine hydrochloride, developed under the Dickensian proprietary name of Paylean, is a beta-agonist given to up to 80% of U.S. hogs. It mimics stress hormones, adding muscle weight on less feed.

Greenwashing amok, Eli Lilly, which originally developed the drug as an asthma treatment for humans, argues in reducing the feed used, ractopamine lowers the carbon footprint of the livestock industry.

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Poultry of Minerva

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, HIV, Influenza, Organic agriculture, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 8, 2015 by rgwallace

Last week I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Peter Shea, the Bill Moyers of the Twin Cities, for The Bat of Minerva show.

What began as a kind of intellectual portraiture, in which we explored how I got studying the evolution of infectious disease, spiraled into about as broad a thesis on the nature of disease and agriculture and prospects for a just future as I have compiled in one place to date.

The reason–and there is a reason–we talked in such a noisy place is revealed halfway through the interview.

For those night owls out there–or nocturnal bats or poultry off their counter-seasonal photoperiods–the show will be broadcasted locally Sunday midnight (Saturday night) on Metro Cable Network/Channel 6

Los Lechugueros

Posted in Ecological resilience, Influenza, Organic agriculture, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , on June 23, 2015 by rgwallace

People have been too kind. Online responses and an audience in Minneapolis have met my H5N2 commentary with the kind of reaction that marks as much a change in the cultural weather as anything in my presentation.

Stateside the outbreak has inspired many a suddenly impertinent child across scientific circles, op-ed pages and supermarkets. A growing murmur acknowledges the emperors of agribusiness are stripping themselves naked of their own rationale. The sector’s apologists, many wily as can be, and paid handsomely for the dupe, are appearing increasingly peddlers of an invisible cloth.

If I have added anything to the dawning realizations already underway, beyond whatever technical support conjoining epidemiology, evolution and economics, it is my lil’ bit in helping engender a sense, to turn around Gramsci, that the old order is dying and a new can indeed be born.

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Bidding Up Bird Flu

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Influenza, Organic agriculture, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , on June 22, 2015 by rgwallace

Twenty-one thousand turkeys in Otter Tail County. Forty-five thousand in Meeker County. Fifty-thousand in Kandiyohi. Fifty-six thousand in Redwood. Sixty-seven thousand in Stearns. Do I hear 76,000 in Stearns?

Here’s the talk on H5N2 I gave at the Institute on Agriculture and Trade Policy June 11. Although it’s only a half-hour, I manage to cover a lot.

I’d say there are two key take-homes. First, by dint of its industrial model, rather than a bit of bad luck, the poultry sector is well placed for selecting for and sustaining outbreaks of virulent influenza.

Second, externalizing the costs of such outbreaks–and other sources of health, ecological and economic damage–lards the sector with moral hazards of perhaps one day apocalyptic proportions.

Like an outbreak that kills a billion people.