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But we’ve just done this experiment

In Sri Lanka:

We are constantly being exposed to chemicals in our food, many of which are linked to health issues and have devastating effects on our environment. From endocrine disruptors to PFAS, plastics to pesticides, just how much of these do we wish to include in our everyday lives?

Globally, Australia is one of the heavier users of pesticides in food production, as Guardian Australia’s recent investigation into pesticides shows. This is partly because of Australia’s unique conditions and farming methods. But it’s also because Australia has less rigorous standards on pesticides than much of Europe or the US.

Organic producers have proven for decades that they can provide sustainable yields of healthy, nutritious food without extensive use of some of the most toxic agricultural chemicals used in intensive farming. The Australian organic industry includes over 3,000 producers in Australia and covers more than 35.3 million hectares of farmland – 9.4% of Australia’s total farmable land mass.

It didn’t work.

Would you like to fuck off, therefore, and come back when you’ve something sensible to say?

31 thoughts on “But we’ve just done this experiment”

  1. We also do another experiment, certain sections of society (farmers and farm workers) are far more exposed to pesticides and herbicides than the general population, because the former are in close contact with the neat chemicals when applying them to the crops, while the latter are merely exposed to minute amounts of residues from food. Thus if farmers and farm workers are not dropping like flies from their higher exposure, and die at the same sort of rates the general population does then the general population is not at any risk at all from its far lower exposure. QED.

  2. “With the right incentives”.

    Ok, *YOU* proffer your products to the market, if the market buys it, them’s all the incentives needed.

  3. The sensible thing if they think Australian farming is using too many pesticides is to cut back a bit on the worst ones, pass on any costs and benefits to to customer, and watch what happens to the income.

    Or they could have a committee of people like them who boss people around and tell them to stop doing stuff they don’t like. Which everyone agrees is more fun if you can swing it.

  4. Jim

    Indeed. And my impression is that other than the amputation risks from machinery, death by tractors squishing them, etc – the rates are indistinguishable.

    Is this the case?

  5. ‘How else are they going to get you to eat the bugs, Boganboy..?’ Yet another good reason for me to give them the finger, Julia!!!

    BiTiN: Must admit I’ve never heard of any statistics attributing farmer’s loss of life to pesticides or herbicides.

    If I want organic food, I can buy it. As you can see, I’m not interested.

  6. Food ain’t nothing but chemicals. Idiots writing in the Grauniad about chemicals being a very bad thing ain’t nothing but chemicals either.

  7. We could also look at mortality and morbidity rates for populations before and after they introduce pesticides, to see if they increase.

    My guess is that they actually decrease, for the obvious reasons that food becomes more plentiful and cheap. And I’m sure the greenies would be screaming blue murder were it otherwise.

    From Jefferson Airplane way back in 1972:

    “You say nothing’s right but natural things
    Ah, you fool
    Poison oak is a natural plant
    Why don’t you put some in your food?
    Natural food makes you slow and stupid and it tastes like cabbage
    I don’t care if there’s chemicals in it
    As long as my lettuce is crisp
    Preservatives might be preserving you all
    I think that’s something you might’ve–
    Oh, I think you might’ve missed it
    Yeah, you missed it”

  8. Organophosphate poisoning from sheep dip? “ Our results support the hypothesis that COPIND symptoms cluster within individuals, but indicate that the clustering is not specific to people with exposure to organophosphates”. In other words… we don’t know what the effects are, and it was a survey…

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2078460/

    Am on a coffee break. Back to the grindstone in 8 mins.

  9. ” the rates are indistinguishable.

    Is this the case?”

    As far as I know. I seem to remember reading that farmers live ever so slightly longer than the general population. Probably due to having a non-sedentary lifestyle, plenty of fresh air and exposure to lots of dirt, so their immune systems are in good order too.

  10. Best advert for eating less beef is the number of farm workers killed in accidents with cows.
    Or maybe we should as we’re eating the murderer.

  11. . . . and exposure to lots of dirt . . .

    In an earlier life I was a passenger in a farmer’s Range Rover as we drove across his substantial holdings of Nottinghamshire looking for harvesting operations to photograph. He was dressed not dissimilarly to the picture of T. Worstall in the striped shirt and tie, and I don’t recall him having any contact with dirt whatsoever. It should come as no surprise that I ended up paying for lunch at the pub (“bugger, managed to come out without any cash today”).

  12. Oh, the humanity! CHEMICALS IN OUR FOOD! THINK OF ALL THE CARBON COMPOUNDS OUR CHILDREN ARE ingesting! Cyanide is made from carbon!n!!!1. CO2 is a chemical!

  13. Quick Google search for share of Organic farming in Australia – about 1%. From the article I would have figured 3.6%. Either way, that’s with approximately 10% of the land dedicated to organic farming. So, best case scenario, if organic farming goes to 100%, that’s 36% of what’s currently produced now. Admittedly a rough calculation, but what would the starvation level be with that? Can anyone at the Guardian do math?

  14. wulfscott, it’s been established ages ago that the actual ability for doing math disqualifies you for publishing in the Guardian, let alone fullfill any senior position there.

    Apparently it’s a thing they’re proud of..

  15. Grikath, that explains a lot. Should I assume, though, that READING the Guardian destroys ability to do math?
    Two things came to mind when reading the paragraphs from the article: 1. as TW said, this has been tried in Sri Lanka and the immediate results are shocking, and will get worse; 2. what is the yield from the organic farming (including quality of the produce) which led to my rough calc. I don’t know the quality, though.
    I get the impression, though, that the Guardian readers have no idea what farming is like. I’ve seen too much ignorance, the common assumption seems to be that a farmer is some yahoo dressed in dirty overalls seated on a 1930s era tractor, rather than someone who drives a combine that has the latest in GPS and pc equipment, with internet, and air conditioning and is better educated (and smarter) than the usual Guardian or NYT writer.

  16. Bloke in North Dorset

    Interesting calculation, wulfscott.

    It’s also worth noting that they’d have to bring a lot more than 3x the existing land in to production because the new land being farmed will be less productive and some of the better land will have been built on. Perhaps some recently

    The there’s all the extra farming equipment needed and diesel burned and myriad other 2nd and higher order effects.

  17. I suppose that more than occasional exposure to the Guardian could conceivably give rise to brain rot, as many of the regular contributors of Opinion Pieces there display with fervor, so: yes, possibly.

    And given that the average Guardianista is a salon socialist safely wrapped up in Suburbia or behind city walls..
    I’m pretty positive that they haven’t a clue about real farming, other than possibly mucking around in a municipal plot Showing The World how In Touch With Nature they are.
    And for those, the Math thing again, given that they generally think their experience in growing some lettuce and a cabbage or two extrapolates to commercial farming. Or that their self-grown veggies are cheaper than the ones in the supermarket. /facepalm.

  18. @wulfscott Can’t remember where I saw it exactly but
    https://ourworldindata.org/food-supply
    shows the last 10 years has been the first decade in human history, despite the population being an all time high, where supply of food exceeded 3000kCal per day.
    That’s about a 20% margin if things go south assuming we can get by on 2400kCal per day and distribution is set up right. So organic could go to something like 30% of land area (10% of production then) and we’d still be all right.
    The best guidance on protein may give a different number as Haber-Bosch allegedly accounts for half of human protein consumption. https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/daily-per-capita-protein-supply show a few countries mainly in Africa close to the recommended 50-60g of protein a day, and they would seriously hurt if they had to go only organic. And benefit if they could move away from it.
    There’s an article on the dailysceptic saying that yes organic harmed Sri Lanka, but so did exchange controls, the effective tourism ban, the stringent lockdown (near top on stringency index), and relocation of two garment factories to Tim’s favourite emergent neo-liberal place of Bangla.

    Go to Sri Lanka for a holiday right now if you have the free time seemed to be the conclusion

  19. What if Russia invaded Sri Lanka?

    What if Sri Lanka’s only problem is a shortage of US dollars? What if the US gave Sri Lanka billions of dollars like it is giving Ukraine? Should Sri Lanka start a false flag war with terrorists, before getting a line on US dollars?

  20. Bongo – thanks for the data website. I may find myself spending WAY too much time looking at it, as I’m a bit of a data junkie.
    Don’t give too much weight to my very rough calc. although the numbers in the article do show a yield of 1/3 of modern agricultural practices. BiND has a good point that expansion of organic farming would lead to more resources used for less yield, with diminishing returns. The sort of organic farming that is done presently avoids using materials and practices that are more efficient/effective and thus would lead to less yield. Still, I have no objection to organic farming as long as it is market driven, not mandated.
    The dailysceptic may have a point, but the articles I’ve seen have pointed to crop failure attributable to organic farming mandates. Other government mandates may have contributed, but that’s the problem with government mandates.

  21. Organic producers have proven for decades that they can provide sustainable yields of healthy, nutritious food without extensive use of some of the most toxic agricultural chemicals used in intensive farming.

    They just use other toxic chemicals, like Copper. Or literally use shit, and kill people like that outbreak with the lettuce a few years back.

    Mostly organic farms survive because the surrounding farms use modern sprays, so the number of critters and diseases is kept low. If everyone went organic, then a reappearance of a modern day potato weevil or phyloxera would wipe out huge swathes of farming.

    “Organic” is a scam from start to finish.

  22. Bloke in the Fourth Reich

    “Or that their self-grown veggies are cheaper than the ones in the supermarket.”

    When I told my parents about my plot they said wonderful, you will have some cheap veggies and be able to save on supermarket.

    No, I will have a few meals a year worth, made of the most expensive food I’ve ever eaten.

  23. Indeed but wait until next year when food prices rocket. My home grown tomatoes are delicious and the best we get however the quantities from our city garden are so small we still buy tomatoes. My home grown lettuce in the hydroponic system is much more productive and takes up very little space but the 4W pump 24/7.. 4x24x120days = £5 worth of electricity. I probably get slightly more than that in lettuce, but my labour, the water, the nutrients cost far more.

    Fruit is worth it if you have space as fruit is more expensive. Back to eating turnips I suppose.

  24. The only thing I grow myself that out-competes the supermarket is mint. I use it fresh when it’s fresh, and dry it to use the rest of the year, and each year I still have some dried left over when I’m back on fresh. That’s from about three square feet of garden. To do that with potatoes I’d need several acres. And then I’d still need cabbage, beans, salt, pepper, milk, fish, meat, etc.

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