Chapter#10 from “2020”, a book witten in three languages available now from

On “Vorschau 3/3” chapter titles are available in German and French.

Covid-19 and the Land

Stating: The summary of a conference, organised and hosted by Princeton and Columbia Universities in Princeton, New Jersey in October 2014 entitled “Systemic Risk in Global Agriculture”, publishes the following list of risks to humanity, originating from modern agricultural practices.

The list states, “… key among these risks are human pandemic, diseased crops, water shortage and drought, finance and insurance market failures, toxicity of chemical additives (pesticide, herbicide, fertiliser), technologies such as GMOs, demand imbalances from food waste, emergent complexity within networks, psychological factors in decision making, biofuels and energy, sustainability, bio-diversity, war and political conflict, weather risk and famine, demographic changes and population growth.”

This list is not prioritised. Non-the-less naming human pandemic, as early as 2014, as premium risk to humanity is telling indeed. Reasons for the development of this risk are stated as the toxicity of chemicals on the land, the use of technology in agricultural practice, existing environmental damages (i.e. the results of earlier mistakes, such as pollution of air and water), new developments in medicine and healthcare, the rising demand for energy, increased food processing, transport, trade as such and food waste.

Not mentioned is the inflationary practice of commodity trading, based on land and product standardisation. From my own observations and the statements of others I add: Open transmissions of pathogens through the removal of natural barriers, destruction of existing habitats common in global agricultural practices today. I also would like to mention the wide-spread addition of unhealthy sugars to industrial foods.

Each point here mentioned is worth a detailed exposure of facts and information (which named white paper in part delivers). This text, however, shall concentrate on the reasons behind the facts. Why for instance did farmers give in to the lure of industrial fertilisers?

What prompted them to abandon well established farming practices and send their horses to the butcher? Quoting evolutionary biologist and author Rob Wallace, I tune into his statement with this question, “… just how will humanity, in world-wide solidarity, recreate local agro-ecologies, once more establish healthy habitats world-wide, feed man and enable nature to rebuild its immune system?” Is the chance of recreating of a wholesome world gone bye? Or can it still be done?

We are made of nano strings, states biologist Sonia Contera January 2020. We are made of cells, states physiologist and Nobel-Prize winner 2001, Paul Nurse. What appears to be contradictory has common grounds. Facts are postulated at different times, as understanding evolved. Cells consist of molecules, molecules are made of proteins, proteins consist of folded nano strings. Nano string are made of amino acids, amino acids consist of atoms. The relentless activity, which takes place in nanometer scale involving all from atoms to cells and more, man knew nothing about, until — in the early 1980s — scientists began to give image to the universe on small scale. Today we only need to listen to David Baker, designer of proteins, head of the endeavours “Fold-it” and “Rosetta” in a TED Talk on Youtube, to understand what has happened since.

So, here we have it. University panelists discuss the risks of modern agriculture. Scientist join to discover the physics of life and find solutions for these risks. But, what caused these risks?

Meanwhile commodity traders speak from a different point of view and reality: the world of money and profits. In I am told the quality of a commodity is its uniformity. Wheat, maize, cotton, rice, soy of identical look and weight. This uniformity is the back bone of agricultural commodity trading. It exists in small scale as “on the spot sales” and in bulk as “future contract trades”. These so called futures give rise to speculation (don’t ask me how… this part I have not fully understood…).

Commodity trading regulates which food stuff goes where at which price. Regulating factor is not the need to feed the world. Instead, riven by speculation gains, traders sit in front of computer screens… buyers direct productions… folks, the general population, engage in anything from administration, the service industry, promotion of goods and services, transport und health care… you name it. They also are not on the land, from where agricultural products originate.

Not as marketable standard food chains, but as local food for local people… On the land are gas-guzzling tractors… bringing out artificial fertilisers… gene modified seeds and chemical herbicides… Speaking of humanity and Kant’s self-inflicted immaturity…! Will band-aids (such as vaccines, misdirected govern-ment programs, money and talk…) heal the wounds, which we as humanity have inflicted on ourselves?

Age 71… ready to learn… and share…

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