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Saturday, October 02, 2010

What's worse - Plague Locusts or a Plague of Pesticides?

What's worse - Plague Locusts or a Plague of Pesticides?

I have a view about this which might not be popular, but if the Victorian Government told their electors that they were going to spray vast areas of the State with many different chemicals, nearly all of which are highly toxic to bees - what would the reaction be?

Farmers would be up in arms.
Canola - one of the major rural crops is exclusively pollinated by Bees.
Fruit trees - pears, apples, peaches, almonds and citrus are all pollinated by bees. I believe grapes are, as well.
Now many of those will not be flowering now (most will have already flowered). But what about next year's crop? And the year after? And the years to come?

At present the code for spraying says they ought leave a buffer zone around "Bee Hives" (they mean commercial bee hives, not the feral hives of "naturalised" European Honey Bees which live in hollows in old Gum Trees, as we all know.

They will spray over native vegetation, not just crops - they say so themselves.

OK - so the flowering native vegetation will become toxic to Bees.

Bees travel considerable distances from the commercial hives - and that even presupposes the Aerial Spraying Contractors know where the Bee hives have been placed - often deep in Mallee Eucalypt forests, and not easily seen from low-flying aircraft, travelling at 80 - 100 KM/hour.

Please take a few minutes to watch the Victorian Stateline program from Friday night, which Miss Eagle alerted me to. (Thanks). It shows the DPI people in Mildura, and Victorian Premier John Brumby "declaring war on the Plague Locust", and then it shows Eris O'Brien, farmer and ecologist, who is the sole (and lonely) public voice of reason in this debate.

I have quoted him before, and his brother has also commented on my earlier posts, sticking up for his brother's credentials (against much public ridicule).

We need more people like Eris O'Brien and less like "Julie from the Mallee" to whose opinions Martin took objection to in his comment on my previous post.

  • Mallee farmer Julie said this morning she hoped the locusts reached the city if only so that urban dwellers gained some sense of the toll it was taking on the country. She said their 5000 acres (2000 hectares) farm in Birchip faced the “last roll of the dice” with the locust threat, she told Neil Mitchell’s program on Radio 3AW.
  • “We’ve had 10 years of drought and we had the locusts come in autumn and we tried to get action then, but basically we were fobbed off as whingeing farmers.“They should have acted then. They should have sprayed them then. They should have stopped them on the border. She said it was a “matter of time” before the worst hit.
  • “As soon as the soil warms up they going to be hatching and eating, and they will probably eat us out before they get airborne.” She said Agriculture Minister Joe Helper was only allowing farmers enough spray to cover a quarter of each farm, with the most effective sprays cost as much as $1000 a litre. It’s all around the wrong way. They should be throwing it at us to help us.”
Good luck, "Julie from the Mallee" - I hope you keep your kids and/or Grandkids well protected - not only from spray drift, but from the grain, oil seeds and meat animals (food) exposed to these sprays. And if you grow any fruit trees, or Canola on your farm - what's going to pollinate them next season, if there is a massive Bee kill?

Google "Silent Spring", if you have never heard of it. I'll make it easy - please read this synopsis. That report gives both sides of the case - the points made by Rachel Carson, and the criticisms levelled at her (mostly by the Chemical industry).

I leave you with just this line from Mr Brumby:
"He said the Government had committed $43.5 million to fighting plague."

Wow - no wonder the Chemical industry still dislikes the Rachel Carsons and the Eris O'Briens of this world.
*****
And look at Brumby's language - he is deliberately confusing "plague" with a "plague of Locusts" - two totally different things. As an old Public Servant, I hate it when Politicians deliberately mislead the public with loose language.

Hysteria and fear campaigns.
Brumby's War on Locusts is just like George W. Bush's "War on Terror", or the Nixon and Reagan administrations' "War on Drugs".
Both of those were totally indiscriminate.
Both of those were totally misguided.

4 comments:

Flabmeister said...

Denis
My few thoughts were a bit long for a comment so I have put them in http://franmart.blogspot.com/2010/10/some-thoughts-on-plague-locusts.html.

Martin

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Martin
I have followed the discussion over to your site.
Cheers
Denis

Mac_fromAustralia said...

I just saw this today.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/11/12/3065202.htm

Some interesting comments, including this one.

"Many farmers have ignored advice to wait until the hoppers band together and start moving before spraying, choosing to attack as soon as they find the insects."

Whether the advice is wrong, or the farmers are wrong to ignore it, I do not find that reassuring at all.

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Mac
I also hear something mentioned by "Julie from the Mallee" that the locusts have arrived in parts of Melbourne.
Well, so what?
It might be a slight inconvenience to the gardeners of Melbourne or tot he drivers who find their windscreens getting spotted with dead Locusts, but in a scale of 1:100 this is surely a microscopic 00002:100 level of difficulty.
Few Melbournians practice self-sufficiency, and even fewer will starve as a result. Locust move - they arrive and they depart.
Wake up Australia.
This is below trivial.
What would you have us do - poison the entire planet, so as to avoid a few squashed locusts on the car windscreen or in the radiator?
It is hysteria. It is insanity to call for eradication of a species because they are a minor inconvenience.