Archive for May 4th, 2010

Next month, the 2nd U.S. Social Forum will take place in Detroit. Here is some space for creative economic thinking:

The US Social Forum (USSF) is a movement building process. It is not a
 conference but it is a space to come up with the peoples’ solutions to the 
economic and ecological crisis. The USSF is the next most important step in our
 struggle to build a powerful multi-racial, multi-sectoral, inter-generational,
 diverse, inclusive, internationalist movement that transforms this country and
 changes history.

We must declare what we want our world to look like and we 
must start planning the path to get there. The USSF provides spaces to learn 
from each other’s experiences and struggles, share our analysis of the problems 
our communities face, build relationships, and align with our international 
brothers and sisters to strategize how to reclaim our world.

The biggest challenge I see is that these groups need a theory to justify their actions and positions on political, economic, and social issues. Neoclassical economic theory, the dominant theory in the U.S., will not fill this role. Other theoretical positions do exist, but they need to be re-thought and updated for our current economic and ecological crisis. This is the challenge for the current generation. Where is the theory behind these positions? Only then will the movement find broader success.

For those in Michiana, there is a group organizing transportation if you are interested in attending.

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According to the New York Times, farmers are now struggling to cope with Roundup-Resistant weeds. Some excerpts:

On a recent afternoon here, Mr. Anderson watched as tractors crisscrossed a rolling field — plowing and mixing herbicides into the soil to kill weeds where soybeans will soon be planted.

Just as the heavy use of antibiotics contributed to the rise of drug-resistant supergerms, American farmers’ near-ubiquitous use of the weedkiller Roundup has led to the rapid growth of tenacious new superweeds.

To fight them, Mr. Anderson and farmers throughout the East, Midwest and South are being forced to spray fields with more toxic herbicides, pull weeds by hand and return to more labor-intensive methods like regular plowing.

“We’re back to where we were 20 years ago,” said Mr. Anderson, who will plow about one-third of his 3,000 acres of soybean fields this spring, more than he has in years. “We’re trying to find out what works.”

Farm experts say that such efforts could lead to higher food prices, lower crop yields, rising farm costs and more pollution of land and water.

“It is the single largest threat to production agriculture that we have ever seen,” said Andrew Wargo III, the president of the Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts.

Resistant weeds are just the expected evolutionary consequence of the herbicides, highlighting once again the tenuous nature of US agricultural production. Of course, the agribusiness industry will look to “innovate” the solution in the form of a new pill or the next herbicide. Until that again fails.

The alternative, of course, is to go back to sustainable, earth-friendly, smaller-scale and less profitable growing techniques that integrate the farm to form a closed, no-waste system. Advocates of this system are not against innovation, but are concerned with what kind of “innovation” the system promotes. The level of technology should not be thought of as a neutral, linearly increasing pile of knowledge. There are different types of innovation and we should be able to discuss, as a society, which forms will make us best off and encourage those.

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