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Thursday, September 6, 2007

Colony Collapse - A Crisis In The Making

We have almost all heard it in the news, bee populations are on the decline worldwide. Doesn't sound important, does it? I mean aside from higher honey prices and future supply reduction, what's the problem?

The problem is, our domestic honey bees are our primary pollinator of crops and fruits. Less or no bees means a stark reduction in crop production worldwide. This at a time when our production levels are already under threat from drought and desertification effects from global warming.

This scarily reminds me of the warning in the Book of Revelations (last book of the Christian Bible for those who are non-Christian readers) where it tells of extraordinary prices for food stocks in the future.

This does not bode well for anyone on Earth. The less we can rely on our food stocks, the greater the chance for internal and international turmoil as more and more of our population goes hungry.

Fundamentally, this is a serious national security issue! And it is a condition that has been building for a long time. As we become increasingly dependent on limited areas of our country to provide the bulk of our food stock, any loss of production in those areas ripple through our entire economy. Case in point, the price of oranges and orange juice over the past few months, caused by the devastating hurricanes in Florida two years ago that damaged most of the crop producing trees.

I am not the only one noticing this potentially devastating pattern. Infoshop News has an article on the subject at the moment (http://www.infoshop.org/inews/article.php?story=20070901185325837).

The question is, what can we do about it?

First, we need research to learn what is killing off our bee populations and other pollinators. If we are doing it ourselves with toxins or something, we need to know so we can stop it. If the treat to them is biological, we must find a cure, quickly.

Second, we need to diversify our crops. The true number of food crops worldwide number in the hundreds, if not thousands, yet we rely on about 30 or 40 for the bulk of our diet. Organizations like Seeds of Diversity (Canada - http://www.seeds.ca/en.php) need to be encouraged and learned from. We constantly talk about cultural diversity when we need to be more interested in maintaining genetic diversity in our plants, animals, and food stocks.

Third, we need to decentralize our crop production. Currently several areas of the country are under biological quarantine which prevents crops being trucked into, out of, or through those areas. Each community across the nation once had crop farms surrounding them and providing them with food. Over the years, these have either been sold to make way for urban sprawl development or purchased and consolidated by the mega-agricultural corporations. This decentralized food supply needs to be re-established as soon as possible with urban sprawl encroachment slowed, if not stopped altogether.

These changes will not be easy and without a doubt will be resisted by the mega-agricultural corporations, but if we are going to maintain a sustainable, thriving society, it must be done, and soon.

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