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Making Herbicides Illegal: What would likely happen if we tried?  RSS feed

 
garden master
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Central Maine Power wants to cut a new 53 mile power corridor to connect more Canadian hydro power to Massachusetts.  Besides cutting all those trees, they will then end up maintaining the cut by spraying with herbicides.  Thinking about all the ways herbicides are used left me wondering....if they tried to make the use of herbicides illegal across the state what would happen?  My first thoughts are that it would generate a series of lawsuits and the state would loose.  What do you think?  Is that true?  Has this happened anywhere else at the state level and if so what happened?
 
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What could happen easily, is that localities could pass laws banning that application of herbicides owned by the locality. For example, as a homeowner, i passed a resolution 30 years ago saying that I will never apply a herbicide to land that I steward.  A village could say, "The city will not buy herbicides, city workers will not apply them, and we will prosecute anyone that we catch spraying poison on city property."
 
master steward
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I'm sure there would be lawsuits but I'm not sure the state would lose.  The biggest hurdle would be to get the state to want to pass the laws.  I'm guessing they could apply to state, city and personal property but possibly not federally managed lands.  
 
master pollinator
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State bans cities from banning:  https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/440448-oklahoma-governor-signs-law-banning-bans-on-plastic-bags

So, yes, it probably needs to be done at the state level.

 
pioneer
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I think this is a terrible idea. We don't approve of herbicides, but there are some circumstances where they genuinely are the best option. Where other alternatives are far more environmentally destructive, or where the cost of using other approaches dramatically impacts the cost.

I know that people don't like considering cost as an issue, but when we are talking from a position of relative affluence it is important that we don't push an ideology that harms the poorest in society without careful consideration. Currently permaculture does not offer a viable large scale approach to cheaply feed the billions of people in the world. Whether we like it or not cheap food currently depends on conventional agriculture.

Hard lines, like making a particular technology illegal, usually have unintended consequences.

For the purposes of this particular thread, I would much rather decision makers face a realistic cost that factors in environmental harms. Carbon taxes have worked very effectively to shut down the very worst applications of fossil fuel technologies, and a similar model could be used with herbicides to factor in environmental harms.
 
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Do herbicides do anything we value?
On the face of it,  agricultural yields would go down as the weeds compete with crops.

Permaculture embraces the weeds, replaces them with polyculture,recruits animal helpers, and/or uses plants like perennials that out compete the weeds all on their own.

Human labor,  mechanized weeding, plastic mulch, could substitute for herbicides in a monoculture setting.

Food costs will probably go up,  at least until the new systems get to scale.
 
Michael Cox
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William Bronson wrote: Do herbicides do anything we value?
On the face of it,  agricultural yields would go down as the weeds compete with crops.

Permaculture embraces the weeds, replaces them with polyculture,recruits animal helpers, and/or uses plants like perennials that out compete the weeds all on their own.

Human labor,  mechanized weeding, plastic mulch, could substitute for herbicides in a monoculture setting.

Food costs will probably go up,  at least until the new systems get to scale.



Unfortunately "could happen" is not where we are now. It would require a massive societal change, effectively forcing a large proportion of the population back into manual labour on the land. The overwhelming trend of the past 200 years of agriculture has been one of increasing labour efficiency - few people are needed to work on the land per 1000 people fed. In the short term this would put a massive spike on food costs which affects the poorest most.

If we as a society really want to be able to move away from herbicides then we need to ensure that other viable solutions are already in place to take over in a transition. Robotics are one possible path for this - imagine a diverse permaculture crop tended by a flock of small robotic gardeners doing tasks like pruning, weeding, harvesting...
 
Tyler Ludens
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Michael Cox wrote:Unfortunately "could happen" is not where we are now. It would require a massive societal change, effectively forcing a large proportion of the population back into manual labour on the land. The overwhelming trend of the past 200 years of agriculture has been one of increasing labour efficiency - few people are needed to work on the land per 1000 people fed. In the short term this would put a massive spike on food costs which affects the poorest most.



I think permaculture requires "a massive societal change" including the concept of growing food where we live, and encouraging communities in which food can be grown (there's land all around me here in the city).  This won't happen overnight.  Permaculture is not "where we are now."  I think we can discuss solutions to problems which move us beyond, far beyond, where we are now.

Herbicide use results in the development of herbicide resistance, demanding use of even more toxic herbicides, which results in even more damage to environment and human health.  If we keep putting off moving toward solutions because it's not where we are now, I worry where this will end.  The trend of the past 200 years is not sustainable.  When will we say "enough" and change?

I think we need to change quickly, and at the same time strive to help the poorest most.

I agree that incentives for not using herbicides is a good path forward.  On the other hand, I'm not convinced that outlawing them in certain circumstances is inappropriate.





 
Greg Martin
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Michael Cox wrote: In the short term this would put a massive spike on food costs which affects the poorest most.

If we as a society really want to be able to move away from herbicides then we need to ensure that other viable solutions are already in place to take over in a transition. Robotics are one possible path for this - imagine a diverse permaculture crop tended by a flock of small robotic gardeners doing tasks like pruning, weeding, harvesting...



The government is already subsidizing agriculture.  Not sure why they couldn't take care of the effect of this on the poorest citizens.  To me the issue really comes down to whether or not it's ok to apply herbicides to our environment and for me the answer is no.  Especially for things like keeping a lawn weed free.
 
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Might as well toss in a ban on pesticides. Poison is poison. I miss seeing butterflies.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Dennis Mitchell wrote: I miss seeing butterflies.



https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/27/magazine/insect-apocalypse.html
 
pollinator
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I think one thing to consider is the Ripple or Butterfly effect on banning herbicides(or pesticides for that matter), both forwards and backwards. There is a whole system in place for the production and distribution of the raw materials and the application of them. If you were to right now, with all the Avengers: Endgame buzz, snap your fingers and herbicides were gone you could very well see the collapse of society as we know it. At least in the United States and I'm sure much of the world. Think about that entire chain of people and industry that would be impacted from the chemical makers, to the truckers, to the sellers (wholesale and retail), applicators, farmers, and so on.

Initially the lawsuits, yes. But long term the current systems and methods being used for food production would take a major hit. I live in the heart of the monocrop industrial agriculture machine. No herbicides would be devastating to current farming methods and the environment. WHAT? Devastating to the environment? Yes. If you can't apply herbicides to control the weeds then other methods would have to be used and on an industrial scale that would be cultivating. That would mean more tractors running longer, more fuel burnt, more bare soil for longer, more erosion, and on and on.

Now we move months forward to harvest. Harvests will be lower, food prices will begin to climb. All those people now out of jobs due to the herbicide market disappearing are further burdening welfare systems that begin to struggle to provide food as there simply isn't the amount there once was.

So, I think the real answer is exactly what Paul talk about in video for the Kickstarter for the new book. We need a solution rather than just eliminating the perceived problem. A company I worked for had a saying when investigating a Safety incident. They said you have to ask "Why" at least 5 times before you can get to the real issue.
Why are herbicides being used? to kill weeds/brush.
Why are the weeds being killed? to keep the power lines clear
Why do the power lines need to be cleared?
Why...
Why...

I'm not a fan of herbicides. I think there are better ways, but sadly we have advanced at a rate and on a path that makes simply eliminating them overnight infeasible. We need a better solution.
 
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Our poorest citizens have been mentioned. Many poor people are already being subsidized by the government, and therefore I think it would be totally acceptable to give them an option to continue as they currently are, or to get a little more money, by participating in subsidized agriculture that is labor intensive. Some might like to get rid of the voluntary aspect. Large parts of the world have a work or starve policy. It's not necessarily government policy, but it's the reality of how many poor countries operate.

I met several poor farmers in the Philippines who lamented that because they can't afford herbicides, they have to do a little bit of hand labor. These fellows were largely idle,  every time I looked at them, so I don't think they really need to be saved from labor. I don't think it would be the end of the world if the amount of labor to produce food went way up. And I don't think that over fed first world people would starve.

Food might have to be more of a priority for people. We have millions of people who live on things like Pizza Pops, Doritos and beer. Until this is not the case, I won't begin to think that we have somehow reached the edge when it comes to food cost. Whenever I've heard people argue against putting more strict controls on herbicides and pesticides, we usually get into the idea that they don't want to do anything that would interfere with them spending most of their income on something they value more than food.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Caleb Mayfield wrote: There is a whole system in place for the production and distribution of the raw materials and the application of them.



There is a whole system in place which is literally killing the biosphere, the biosphere which supports human life.

 
William Bronson
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I found one industry estimate that yields would plummet by as much as 50% if we did not use herbicides.
Even taking that number at face value,  it is estimated that we waste 30- 40% of food a year in the US.
We spend money propping up corn soy and wheat farms.
So we get soy products ,heat gluten and corn syrup in most manufactured foods we eat, and a pound of chicken flesh somehow cost less than a pound of  corn kernels.
We prop up corn ethanol despite it neither contributing to a clean environment.


Right now I can roll up to Aldis and come away with human edible  food from their dumpster.
I've stopped doing that because the only things my family will eat from there is the junk food, and we don't need more of that.
I've even slowed my roll when it comes to feeding my chickens from there, because each haul of fresh food is more than they can eat, and the processed stuff, that will keep, they wont eat.
Who says they aint smart?

I think there is plenty of room for adjustments and tightening in the system, without people going hungry.
Never mind banning herbicides, imagine if food stamps could only be spent on whole foods.
You would transform the food industry and the health of millions.
Twenty dollars of potatoes goes a lot further than twenty dollars of potatoes ships or even french fries.
We've seen health oriented  dietary restrictions on the WIC program so it'st not logistically impossible, just politically unpopular and therefor highly unlikely.

It's not as if things can't change, or wont change, but it's largely a ,matter of motivation.
We drastically changed our food production in the US,  during WWII, because it was felt that we had to.
Cuba was cut off from using industrial agriculture when the soviets stopped their patronage, leading to them adopt practices that could be sustained without huge inputs of petrochemical, because they had to.

We could make these changes, and feed everyone, if we felt we had to.
Such a scenario does seems unlikely to occur , at least before its too late.
Slow poisoning just doesn't produce the  the same sense of urgency as an all out war.

As far as forcing people back to labor on the land, I think if food prices make it profitable to employ human labor at decent wage  and working conditions, there will be no shortage of people seeking such positions.
The social prestige of being a farmer will rise along with how much food is valued
I'm a plumber among other things, and the value people put on  indoor plumbing, whilst fearing human waste, is what makes plumbing profitable, because it really isn't that hard.
People like eating even more than they like indoor plumbing, so a free society that make food production more labor intensive will elevate their farmers.
To be clear,I am not saying we live in such a society, people are exploited every day as farm labor, here in the US, because they don't have better alternatives.
But that is a touchy subject, that I'm not trying to broach here.
I am just positing that a free market for labor will reward the producers of the most valuable of commodities.


 
Dale Hodgins
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I totally agree with William. The market will sort itself out and the sky won't fall.
 
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I totally agree with Dale totally agreeing with William.  

Very well put, William.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I really like the idea of limiting what can be bought with food stamps. If Society is giving people money for food, then I think there needs to be some sort of agreement as to what food is. And that shouldn't be decided by the purveyors of junk food.

I read this somewhere and saved it to my notes in the phone. I think most of us have seen that poverty often goes hand-in-hand with obesity. It's about food choices---
"We’ve all heard it. A calorie is a calorie. It does not matter what you eat as long as you burn it off. It’s Coca Cola’s favorite argument, taking all the blame from the producers of junk food, and blaming the victims.

Unfortunately it’s not true. An avocado is not the same thing as a soft drink for your body, no matter what the calorie count says. The hormonal effects are quite different, and let’s not even mention the vast difference in nutrient levels."

I think it's likely that any increased cost in operating the food stamp system, would be recovered in savings on the Medicaid end.
 
pollinator
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The CVS stores (pharmacy in US) considered  stopping selling tobacco products 12 years ago, but had reason to believe that it would have no effect on people's behavior, so they continued...
5 years ago, they quit selling tobacco products (a sacrifice of $1.5 billion/year) because it made sense for their branding as a health care company (expanding with clinics in stores).
So, a large corporation can make a change, even if it is costly (in CVS's case a forfeiting of market share)(though possibly a public relations gain?), because it is the right thing to do (or the right thing for their company).

If the five whys method is taken, maybe the utility discovers:
that the herbicide application was being done "just because they've always done it"
that the benefits they are looking for are theoretical/not correlated... as in prevention of brush fires that have never started because they have always used herbicides..."see, it worked!"
that they were being SOLD on using herbicide for dubious benefit, and that maybe the interval between applications is becoming more frequent and costly.
that the health care cost increases for workers doing the applications were higher for having done it (maybe not their concern if subcontracted? until the lawsuit...)
that yearly sprayings can be replaced by once a decade trimming.
that distributed generation (grid-tied solar and wind) doesn't require expansion of transmission lines...

Maybe they find enough reasons to quit using the stuff on their own, no legislation, no lawsuits.
Maybe they save $$ on herbicides and invest in solar installations instead of $$$$ for new transmission lines
 
Caleb Mayfield
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Tyler Ludens wrote:

Caleb Mayfield wrote: There is a whole system in place for the production and distribution of the raw materials and the application of them.



There is a whole system in place which is literally killing the biosphere, the biosphere which supports human life.



Sadly true.

And I agree with Timothy, agreeing with Dale, who agrees with William. Would civilization collapse? I don't believe it would, but it would force a major change in society as we know it. And I would hope it would be as described already.

Good stuff. I enjoy these.
 
Dale Hodgins
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While we wait for changes in legislation, we can all make these products illegal on our land and in our refrigerators. It won't do much about this particular situation with the Hydro cut, but every carrot that we grow naturally, is one that doesn't enrich the enemy.

Whenever I hear about a new corridor like this being created, I think, there's a free farm or at least free grazing land for someone who can put a deal together. There's thousands of acres, that could be managed by a group of shepherds, and they could quite likely get paid to whack down anything that the sheep goats and cattle leave behind. It's a matter of them making it known that they want to do this,  and making it attractive to whoever is in charge.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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If herbicides were made illegal, we could expect a black market in herbicides. People would buy them in jurisdictions where they are legal, and smuggle them to areas where they are illegal. An herbicide cartel would form as people, who could not use the legal system for protection, developed their own justice and distribution systems. Herbicide prices would rise dramatically, and more people would get poisoned more acutely by applying (possibly unvetted) black-market products in clandestine ways. Typical human behavior... Consume more of products that are banned.
 
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Dale Hodgins wrote:I really like the idea of limiting what can be bought with food stamps. If Society is giving people money for food, then I think there needs to be some sort of agreement as to what food is. And that shouldn't be decided by the purveyors of junk food.

I read this somewhere and saved it to my notes in the phone. I think most of us have seen that poverty often goes hand-in-hand with obesity. It's about food choices---
"We’ve all heard it. A calorie is a calorie. It does not matter what you eat as long as you burn it off. It’s Coca Cola’s favorite argument, taking all the blame from the producers of junk food, and blaming the victims.

Unfortunately it’s not true. An avocado is not the same thing as a soft drink for your body, no matter what the calorie count says. The hormonal effects are quite different, and let’s not even mention the vast difference in nutrient levels."

I think it's likely that any increased cost in operating the food stamp system, would be recovered in savings on the Medicaid end.



The problem with this is, who decides what is healthy? Perhaps they decide that whole grains and soy healthy, while steak and lard and honey are unhealthy. If my husband (who has Crohn's), ate those "healthy whole grains" and soy, he'd most assuradly have a major flare-up of his disease, debilitating him.

While Food Stamps (which goes by the abbreviation of SNAP) here in the USA currently allow people to choose what is healthy, those who are on WIC (supplemental food for infants and children and pregnant women), requires people to buy the exact brand and size of, say, cheese or bread. A LOT of the WIC foods are processed and non-organic. I've never been on WIC, but those people I know who have been on it, were so frustrated by the lack of healthy food, and the hoops they had to go through to get it (if, say, the store only has 10oz packages of cheese, and the WIC coupon covers 15 oz packages, you can't use the coupon and don't get any food). Some government people (probably heavily aided by big food lobbies and corporations) decided that those were the "healthy" foods that women and babies needed.

Now our government is thinking about making "Harvest boxes" of canned and packaged food to replace an amount of people's food stamp money. So, they might have gotten $100 to spend on what they think they're family needs, now they might get $50 and a box of food that they may or may not be allergic to or have conditions that mean they can't consume it (like Celiacs or Crohn's). That's a lot of money wasted on food they can't eat.

So, while it makes a lot of sense in theory to say that the government money should only cover healthy food...it's a bit more difficult when you think that same government is the one with subsidies for non-organic milk and GMO corn and soy, etc. Or even when you think that, perhaps the government officials are paleo while you're vegan, and they say that soy and rice and wheat are unhealthy, while you think they are. Or, they could decide that government money only covers unprocessed food...and the people who are too poor to have access to even a microwave are at a loss because they can't cook that steak, but they could eat canned soup, but that's not covered....
 
William Bronson
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WIC is a great example because in my experience, it's not perfect,  but no one is buying chips and dip with it.
Better some kind of reasonable  limitations than none.


Whole foods are my go to standard,  as that covers a huge variety of different ways of eating.
That might mean soy milk or tofu isn't covered, or it might not.
That these changes might be imperfect or even lead to worse outcomes isn't a reason to not try them.

The question of someone too poor to own cooking gear is a valid one.
Knowledge of how to cook enters into it as well.
My daughter receives a bunch of food every Friday at school,  part of a program to ensure poor children don't go hungry over the weekend.
It's all processed, and the cans even have pop tops.
We take these (brand name mind you) Spaghetti-Os and such and give them to panhandlers.
Not that we wouldn't eat that stuff if we had to, but we don't.
I've been at the pantry with folks that have no idea what to do with a raw vegetable, even if they have a kitchen and cookware.
They snatch up out of date coffee cake but leave the produce and dry beans.
My sister teachs just such folks to cook,  the classes subsidized by a local charity.


It's not as if we don't already have limits in on  what foods/beverages food stamps can be used on.
Booze is not allowed at all,  and prepared foods are not either.
Add chips,sugar added beverages and candy to that list, for a good start.

I would just as soon allow foodstamps be used to buy take away food , with the limitation  that the restaurant or grocery store would have to cook whole foods as well.

Turns that people not cooking for themselves isn't anything new,  from the old boarding houses,  on back to ancient Greek cities, cooking has often been a specialized task,  requiring specialized equipment and materials.
Even now,  ovens are not a standard household cooking tool in some countries, but here in the US,  all but the most paltry of  accommodations include one, even if it's rarely used.
Maybe we shouldn't try to fight eating out so much as shape it.



On a different note entirely, the idea of a herbicide prohibition creating a black market is plausible to me.
Mind you, anyone who uses black market 'cides on food they intend to sell will be easily caught.
No weeds and no other means of weeding visible means a test for herbicides is in order.
Another effect of prohibition might be illicit money pouring into R and D aimed at  increase the potency, selectivity,  and general efficacy.
It's happened before...
As the costs of using these prohibited substances increased,  they might be used more sparingly and selectively, and with an "antidoping" testing regime in place, herbicides that did not persist in the environment might prove more attractive.
Or not, we know nothing will stop people from trying to cheat, in the end.
Nothing other than a legal alternative that is better in most ways.
Remember when Napster was a thing?
Prohibitions generally do work,  to some extent,  but they will spawn many efforts to circumvent them and lots of unforeseen consequences.
If we keep our eyes on the prize and remain flexible in our execution,  we can get closer to our goals.
Zero carbon emissions might come from solar or from nuclear power, or something else entirely, but the goal itself would have to be taken seriously and any cure might have uncomfortable costs associated with it.  

A herbicide prohibition could work,  but we might end up with acres of plastic swathed land or something.


 
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Banning herbicides.. well for some applications such as clearing power lines yes. That's not done here or in the UK they are mechanically cut every 5 or so years, I was horrified to hear that in the US the road verges are sprayed. WHY? Again here once or twice a year along comes the muncher (what our family calls it) really a tractor with cutting blades, and trims the hedges/ditches/verges delete as appropriate. The only time it would be weedkilled is if there was an invasive growing there and then that's by a specialist team not random spraying. Where I am organic wheat yields are about 30% lower than non organic, some of that will be weed pressure and some will be fertiliser differences, so I would guess at say 15% lower yield (desiccant is not used on bread wheat here only animal feed) But we have much stricter rules on how much herbicide/pesticide/fertiliser can be used per hectare than the US has.

Removing herbicide from agriculture not including grains would hugely increase plastic and diesel usage. On the family farm here swapping to organic increased diesel usage (mechanical cultivation) by 5x and field plastic usage went from 0 to nearly a ton a year. and that's only for 8acres. I would not like to say which is worse.

Some crops are impacted more than others by lack of herbicides, take rape it is the only oil crop that can be grown here and it's organic yield can be just as good as conventional  on a good year, but on a bad year it can be so bad it's not worth harvesting. so the risk is much higher and the price of organic oil is over 5x higher than conventional (rape is a crop that uses a pre-harvest desiccant)

Removing herbicide seems to triple the number of people needed on a mixed vegetable farm, on wheat etc the number of people stays the same but the yield goes down. the quality of the product also drops. It is already hard to sell Danish wheat outside of the country as the low allowances for pesticide/herbicide/fertiliser mean the protein content is very low and so is the size of the grains. On our farm we had a problem with couch grass it actually grows through the tubers of potatoes and through onions making the product unsaleable and compost, as it would have to be used within a few days of harvest. Couch grass dies on the first application of roundup.

As to workers the maths shows there are simply not enough, and of course they do not live in the right places and there is no accommodation in the right places but nothing is impossible if it had to be done. 80000 people work in agriculture in Denmark, there are 107000 unemployed so the number employed in agriculture could go up 2x before we ran out of people. (probably not really true as not all of those people could do physical work) so loss off herbicide would mean having to import more people.
 
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William Bronson wrote: I found one industry estimate that yields would plummet by as much as 50% if we did not use herbicides.


Don’t just look at the numbers, but also at the estimate: I guess that while keeping the same monoculture setting, the yields would go down by this

Joseph Lofthouse wrote:If herbicides were made illegal, we could expect a black market in herbicides. People would buy them in jurisdictions where they are legal, and smuggle them to areas where they are illegal. An herbicide cartel would form as people, who could not use the legal system for protection, developed their own justice and distribution systems. Herbicide prices would rise dramatically, and more people would get poisoned more acutely by applying (possibly unvetted) black-market products in clandestine ways. Typical human behavior... Consume more of products that are banned.


I don’t think so, at least not for large scale agriculture in countries where a control of residue is quite easy to do. For local, de facto unregulated markets, it may be different.
 
Dale Hodgins
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In Victoria, many years ago they put in a simple requirement that anyone using pesticides had to take a very short course to learn how to use them. This alone caused usage to plummet. It was still legal, but you weren't allowed to bathe in the stuff or use way too much. Very few customers on the residential level, were willing to jump through any of these hoops.

Commercial producers are much more motivated, so they would simply send workers in for training.

But it is possible to really mess with things simply by creating red tape. If every worker was made to take classes that are not cheap and that must be covered by the producer, that could help. And let's make the course really difficult, so that many people fail. I can imagine many migrant Farm Workers failing just because it's not in their language. And since we are training workers, let's get the workers compensation people involved to make sure that every worker completely understands the risks. I read somewhere that the highest rate of several types of cancer and neurological diseases were amongst farm spray crews.

So you increase the standard, so that the real dumb asses fail. Now once you are down to the brighter workers, you teach them everything that could happen to their health in the future. This could seriously fuck with the farm labor market, and that would be a good thing.
 
Greg Martin
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Dale, you are an evil genius!  Seriously, though, for the level of damage done with the use of these chemicals I think your ideas are nothing but fully appropriate to protect against the worst behaviors with them.  This should be a minimum starting point.  
 
Dale Hodgins
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Here's something I've done to other businesses that don't play nice. I poach their best people and I recruit them to work for other people I know. We had a guy who was a liar and a thief and he was one of my competitors. I hired two of his guys and I found work for his guys with other people. So the next time a job came up where he needed lots of help, his labor pool had dried up.

With farms, I think it's about piling on more and more paperwork. Make them fill something out every time they pick up a jug of the stuff. When they decide that it's time to use some , there needs to be a form that describes what problem has been discovered, what the alternatives are , and a plan of action. Someone needs to be the person who must sign off on this stuff. Make them account for what happened to every jug. Make them write out a report on the effectiveness of each use. Make the guy who runs the sprayer keep a logbook, the same as they do for truckers and those who operate heavy cranes. Make them have someone on site  with a certain  level of training in first aid and hazardous materials. Make every company have a procedure for the handling of spills and the handling of clothing used during the process. They should be forced to have a little meeting at the beginning of the end of every shift. Make them keep chain of custody papers, the same as you would if it was nuclear waste. The asbestos business gives us a good example of how far this could go. Make it a never ending circle jerk so that it's just about impossible to get anything done.
.........
Where there are regulations, there must be regulators. This opens up opportunities for bribery, accusations of favoritism and all the other skulduggery that goes on when there are rules to break. So the entire system needs to be funded by the industry and not by government. But they need to have no say in what happens. I've always thought it really strange when they call in stakeholders when some rules need to be made. We're trying to make rules, so the people who want to break them should not be allowed any involvement. Simply take their money and use it to pay all of the suits that will be driving around checking up on folks.

All of this would drive up the cost of the food they produce, thus making organic produce not seeing so expensive.
 
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Here in the U.K you need to take an expensive course if you want to use herbicides commercially so you know how to use them safely and don't do obviously stupid things like spray them into rivers, etc. However if you plan to use it on your own property, when you go to the garden centre all of that knowledge spontaneously appears in your head like when Neo says 'I know Kung Fu' in The Matrix.
 
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Greg Martin wrote:Thinking about all the ways herbicides are used left me wondering....if they tried to make the use of herbicides illegal across the state what would happen?  My first thoughts are that it would generate a series of lawsuits and the state would loose.  What do you think?  Is that true?  Has this happened anywhere else at the state level and if so what happened?


I know of an example at the municipal level. Katrina Blair & her friends at Turtle Lake Refuge in Durango, Colorado got a lot of city parks to be organic. She tells the story of how it was done in this podcast and in this YouTube video. Sneak peak: part of their strategy was to complete successful fundraisers to give the city alternatives: they were able to raise the money to buy a compost tea spraying truck for the city!
This strategy is possibly scalable to the state level... :-)

Also, this particular example -using literally tons of toxic gick in order to transport energy over long distances- sounds like another very good reason to decentralize our energy production & consumption. Small & slow solutions, folks! :-)

As for the massive amounts of toxic gick in our current agricultural systems, sounds like another very good reason to decentralize food, fuel, fiber, timber, medicine, spiritual plant production by increasing the number of permie-educated gardeners (horticulturalists, aka: permaculturalists) & decreasing the number of toxin-using, soil depleting farmers (agriculturalists).
PARK-chemical_free_park_sign-_TurtleLakeRefuge.orgCROPPED.jpg
[Thumbnail for PARK-chemical_free_park_sign-_TurtleLakeRefuge.orgCROPPED.jpg]
chemical free park sign, TurtleLakeRefuge.org
Hanun-o_horticultural_mountain_people-_Mindoro_Island-_Philippines.jpg
[Thumbnail for Hanun-o_horticultural_mountain_people-_Mindoro_Island-_Philippines.jpg]
Hanunóo horticultural mountain people, Mindoro Island, Philippines
 
Greg Martin
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Henry Jabel wrote:Here in the U.K you need to take an expensive course if you want to use herbicides commercially so you know how to use them safely and dont obvious things like spray them into rivers, etc. However if you plan to use it on your own property when you go to the garden centre all of that knowledge spontaneously appears in your head like when Neo says 'I know Kung Fu' in The Matrix.



 
Henry Jabel
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Greg Martin wrote:

Henry Jabel wrote:Here in the U.K you need to take an expensive course if you want to use herbicides commercially so you know how to use them safely and dont obvious things like spray them into rivers, etc. However if you plan to use it on your own property when you go to the garden centre all of that knowledge spontaneously appears in your head like when Neo says 'I know Kung Fu' in The Matrix.





Exactly, if it wasn't true my neighbours would not be using herbicides correctly and I would have problems with herbicide drifting on to my plants.
 
William Bronson
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Skandi,  thank you for sharing real world experience.
The relative cost of organic rapeseed oil is illuminating.
Permaculture might suggest an animal based alternative oil,  like lard or butter.


The thing about the wheat makes me wonder if the strains grown are the same,  or are they an older variety.
The world had wheat bread before it had these herbicides, maybe it was better maybe worse.
Some have posited that today's  wheat/glutin allergies come from the characteristics of newer wheat varieties.
Did the Danish grow mostly rye in the past?
Would rye tried better there?

A permaculture answer to couch grass might be intense grazing, maybe with pigs, in order to harvest the abundance.
More animals probably means more human labor/capital investment.
Maybe not,  I'm not sure.

It occurs to me that basalt fabric might be a long term substitute for agriculture plastic.
Permaculture principles might promote woodchips,  leaves or better still,  a living mulch.
Your results may vary,  but most of those solutions seem labor intensive.

Many things you have reported seem to favor an agricultural based around animal husbandry.




 
Michael Cox
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William Bronson wrote: I found one industry estimate that yields would plummet by as much as 50% if we did not use herbicides.



Yep, I think that figure is probably spot on. What does that mean for the world, if herbicides are to be banned? Let's say that tomorrow a magic-herbicide-fairy waves a wand and all herbicides are gone forever. What would have to change to keep the world fed?

Lets start by a massive massive expansion of land under cultivation. Here in the UK that would mean that marginal land that has been allowed to re-wild would be rapidly brought back into cultivation. We are talking about an immediate and massive hit to the natural environment.

We'd follow that up by considering what practices would need to be used to cultivate that land. Farmers can't use herbicides, and our warm wet growing season leads to phenomenal weed growth. They would be hugely dependent on mechanical cultivation of soils with all the problems that bring - loss of soil carbon, nutrients and life, erosion and loss of top soil, silting of rivers and flood basins etc... Elsewhere in the world rising food prices will make agriculture more profitable and will encourage eg clearing of rainforests, irrigation of deserts etc...

The law of unintended consequences sucks.
 
Michael Cox
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Mentioned above by someone else - give people alternatives.

This is the only way to make the large scale transitions work. And this needs to be done on a case by case basis. The applications of herbicides to eradicate invasive species, is different from routine use in agriculture, and is different again from applications where japanese knotweed roots are destroying building foundations.

I'm wholeheartedly behind the principle of using fewer chemicals in agriculture generally, but if we as a community/movement want to get traction we need to look at the situation in a much much more granular way. And we need to recognise that we don't have all the answers - but then neither does conventional ag.
 
Michael Cox
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Dale Hodgins wrote:I really like the idea of limiting what can be bought with food stamps. If Society is giving people money for food, then I think there needs to be some sort of agreement as to what food is. And that shouldn't be decided by the purveyors of junk food.

I read this somewhere and saved it to my notes in the phone. I think most of us have seen that poverty often goes hand-in-hand with obesity. It's about food choices---
"We’ve all heard it. A calorie is a calorie. It does not matter what you eat as long as you burn it off. It’s Coca Cola’s favorite argument, taking all the blame from the producers of junk food, and blaming the victims.

Unfortunately it’s not true. An avocado is not the same thing as a soft drink for your body, no matter what the calorie count says. The hormonal effects are quite different, and let’s not even mention the vast difference in nutrient levels."

I think it's likely that any increased cost in operating the food stamp system, would be recovered in savings on the Medicaid end.



Food stamps, in principle, are a dreadful form of top down meddling welfare. "You are poor so I will make decision for you about your money". It is patronising and terribly inefficient. Need to get your car fixed so you can get to work? Sorry, the gov have mandated that THIS money is only for FOOD. No work for you this week.
 
Skandi Rogers
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William Bronson wrote:
Permaculture might suggest an animal based alternative oil,  like lard or butter.
Traditionaly of course it was butter and lard here.


The thing about the wheat makes me wonder if the strains grown are the same...
The older wheats have higher protein content, but lower overall yield I think (please correct me if I am wrong) Yes it was mainly Rye, oats and barley, wheat and wheat bread was for sundays.

Permaculture principles might promote woodchips,
The problem with woodchips is they are very limited and expensive (they are burnt in powerstations so are not free) of course everything done by plastic here can be done by hand with a hoe, but wages cost more than plastic



I think the general issue is that yes you can do it without herbicides of course we can, but we cannot do without and produce as cheap food. We can produce just as much food but perhaps what we grow would change. After all trees do not care about couchgrass, neither do they need plastic all round them.
One way they reduce the use of herbicide and pesticide here is in tax. For example a 1kg (2lb) box of slug pellets (the organic sort) will cost $53 and no I have not messed up that conversion. glycophosphate comes in at about $40 a hectare. (2.2 acres)
 
That's a very big dog. I think I want to go home now and hug this tiny ad:
permaculture bootcamp - learn permaculture through a little hard work
https://permies.com/wiki/bootcamp
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