Archive for the 'Agriculture' Category

Up against the wall, plant killer!

May 6, 2008

No, this is not a joke:

You just knew it was coming: At the request of the Swiss government, an ethics panel has weighed in on the “dignity” of plants and opined that the arbitrary killing of flora is morally wrong. This is no hoax. The concept of what could be called “plant rights” is being seriously debated.

A few years ago the Swiss added to their national constitution a provision requiring “account to be taken of the dignity of creation when handling animals, plants and other organisms.” No one knew exactly what it meant, so they asked the Swiss Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology to figure it out. The resulting report, “The Dignity of Living Beings with Regard to Plants,” is enough to short circuit the brain.

A “clear majority” of the panel adopted what it called a “biocentric” moral view, meaning that “living organisms should be considered morally for their own sake because they are alive.”

And you thought radical environmentalism had gone about as far as it could. It’s OK to make fun of them, but these people are as serious as can be and have more supporters than we probably want to think about.


Farm out

September 13, 2007


The farm legislation proceeding through Congress symbolizes much of what’s wrong with Washington. It’s government by inertia. We do today what we did yesterday, because politicians draw their power from distributing benefits and various interest groups feel entitled to receive them — even if they serve no defensible public purpose. Our extravagant farm programs capture the absurdity as well as any other.

Since 1970, farm subsidies have totaled $578 billion, according to the historical tables of the U.S. budget. What has the public gotten for this vast outlay? Not much. Food would be produced without subsidies. Roughly 90 percent of commodity payments go to farmers raising grains (wheat, corn), soybeans, cotton and rice; these products represent about a fifth of farm cash receipts. Meanwhile, meat, vegetable and fruit producers get no direct subsidies. Does anyone truly think that, without subsidies, Iowa’s cornfields and Kansas’s wheat fields would go fallow?

All of this has been justified, to an absurd degree, as an exercise in saving the “family farm.” But those have been disappearing at a steady rate for decades, and most of the subsidies go to large corporate farms. Can you imagine the outrage if any other segment of the community were subsized to this degree? I have noticed that the small one- or two-chair barbershops I favor are disappearning at an alarming rate. Every couple of years, I have to find another one. Please, save me from having to go to one of those salons in the malls — spead a few billion around to the old guys with John Wayne posters on the walls and two-year-old copies of Field & Stream and the National Inquirer on the tables.

Read AFTER breakfast

August 10, 2007

piggy.jpgI link to this mostly because it has a headline you will not see every day: “Pork industry supports Purdue’s efforts to improve Indiana air quality.” Of course, large pork operations do contribute to the air’s condition, though we might not like to think about it:

Heber said the study also will establish infrastructure that should allow researchers to test different abatement strategies to improve downwind air quality.

“For example, if we put hogs on certain diets, we can significantly reduce ammonia emissions,” Heber said. “These experiments are needed to develop real solutions in the field.”

Ammonia emissions. Downwind. Says it all.