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posted by mrpg on Monday June 07, @04:27AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the poisonous-pesticides-plague-the-pasture dept.

Swiss mired in poisonous row over pesticides:

[...] The Swiss will vote on Jun 13 on a proposal which, if it passes, would make Switzerland the first country in the world to ban synthetic pesticides.

Proponents seek to ban pesticides with non-naturally occurring chemicals - and not only for agriculture but also for public green spaces, private gardens, and even for killing the weeds on railway tracks.

The initiative, entitled "For a Switzerland free from synthetic pesticides", would also ban the import of foodstuffs produced with synthetic pesticides, so as not to put Swiss farmers at a disadvantage.


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  • (Score: 5, Informative) by bradley13 on Monday June 07, @05:59AM (6 children)

    by bradley13 (3053) Subscriber Badge on Monday June 07, @05:59AM (#1142650) Homepage Journal

    Swiss here. The core of the initiative is indeed about pesticides and herbicides, but it doesn't forbid them. It just says "if you use synthetic chemicals, you don't qualify for subsidies." Switzerland is densely populated, and has an increasing problem of field runoff getting into drinking water supplies. Add to that an insane level of agricultural subsidies, and I could support this idea.

    But: The people putting the initiative together just couldn't stop themselves. They had to add more and more stuff into the same bag. It goes so far as to require farmers to keep only as many livestock as they can feed off of their own land. I.e., you're not allowed to buy in fodder, not even from your neighbor. Add in the import restrictions, which would be essentially impossible to enforce, and would lead to a huge increase in food prices...well...

    If the initiative hadn't gotten carried away, it would probably have passed. A combination of environmentalism (although "natural" pesticides can be even nastier than synthetic ones) and people like me who object to object to the massive subsidies going to farmers. However, since they included more and amore crazy stuff, the initiative has almost no chance of passing.

    --
    Everyone is somebody else's weirdo.
    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, @07:39AM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, @07:39AM (#1142674)

      But: The people putting the initiative together just couldn't stop themselves.

      It almost sounds like the chemical industry has helped them to be more 'ambitious'? I don't know, maybe that's just a cynic in me.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, @09:39AM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, @09:39AM (#1142693)

        In my opinion (Swiss citizen) this is a common problem with popular initiatives, and one of the few "problems" of the Swiss system.

        A votation will be organised for every proposition that collects 100,000 valid signatures in 18 months. It takes effort to formulate the proposition and collect signatures, so this is usually done by political organizations with strong opinions about the matter at hand. In their internal discussions the "more ambitious" version is often more popular than a toned-down version. As a result propositions are often on the more "extreme" side; if the topic is popular they often still collect enough signatures but then have a hard time in the votation because a majority would prefer a more "balanced" approach.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, @09:08PM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, @09:08PM (#1142903)

          In this part of the US, we have a similar issue with our initiatives and referenda. It was introduced decades ago as an end run around politicians that were either corrupt or too timid in what they'd do. Voters can get things that the politicians pass referred to the voters via a referendum, or they can circumvent the politicians completely, using an initiative to send it to the people for a legally binding vote.

          Unfortunately, in the case of initiatives, the version that the voters get is whatever the interest groups that were circulating the petitions want and it's just an up or down vote. So, if there are significant issues with it they can't be fixed, you just get a yes or no on it. Also, you can have something being voted on repeatedly until the measure is moot. We had to vote on a monorail measure repeatedly until one of the votes prevented it from being done due purely to a technicality. Our tunnel took something like 3 separate votes before being constructed as the losing parties kept trying to stop it.

          I've personally stopped signing virtually any of those petitions unless there's an extremely good reason as to why it can't be sent through the normal legislative process, just because of how much damage it's done to the state. Every few years, we get a new initiative to slash the price of car tabs, which causes all sorts of issues financing public infrastructure and pretty much prevents the state from taxing expensive vehicles at a higher rate than cheaper ones or instituting tax policies that encourage fuel efficiency.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 08, @04:29PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 08, @04:29PM (#1143187)

            I assume by your references to monorail and tunnel that you're talking about Washington, and in particular Seattle.

            The car tab issue in particular is an amazing version of screwup. People were pissed off because they found themselves being charged, even if they lived far away from the blessed region of infrastructure construction (i.e. Seattle), based on the MSRP at time of new sale of their vehicle, even if it is a twenty year old third-hand beater they picked up for $500 and fixed up for $300. Not only did it end up screwing the poor, it often ended up specifically screwing people who weren't substantially benefiting from the infrastructure in question anyway, and the state government was complicit in letting this pass because of all the votes from Seattle and its immediate environs anyway.

            It's a classic case of misbehaviour and exploitation in government - and this sort of thing keeps happening, which means that now people are mistrustful every time a new set of expensive mandates emerge from the crocodile tear factory called government. If the government hadn't shit in its own pool, people might have been a little bit more open to paying for important things, but now the default assumption is that the government is more interested in collecting taxes and finding pretexts than actually achieving anything which people value.

            Closer to home, this is another reason why people in NYC are starting to get just a wee bit cranky about the tax rates, given the lousy law enforcement, increasing violence, and strictures on businesses putting them out of business. To the point of, oh, say, leaving the fucking state and taking their taxes with them. But good riddance to the exploitocapitalists, amiritebro?

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by driverless on Monday June 07, @10:28AM

      by driverless (4770) on Monday June 07, @10:28AM (#1142696)

      Thanks for the explanation! As summarised it sounds pretty crazy since it'd ban relatively benign synthetics while OK'ing compounds like Paris Green, whose molecular structure is something like copper, arsenic, oxygen, arsenic, arsenic, oxygen, more arsenic, carbon, arsenic, arsenic, and some more arsenic.

    • (Score: 2, Informative) by js290 on Monday June 07, @04:33PM

      by js290 (14148) on Monday June 07, @04:33PM (#1142792)

      Mark Shepard on Restoration Agriculture - Fertilizer & pesticide runoff [bit.ly]... wild pollinator no sprays orchard mason bee [bit.ly]

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, @06:18AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, @06:18AM (#1142657)
  • (Score: 2, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, @10:49AM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, @10:49AM (#1142698)

    Eliminate pesticides, get more insects, force people to eat them instead of beef and chicken. No thanks, commies.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by VLM on Monday June 07, @12:50PM (26 children)

    by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Monday June 07, @12:50PM (#1142719)

    ban synthetic pesticides

    Usually there's a lot of corruption about this.

    In CA if you can distill it out of crude oil then you can spray it on an organic farm. Also generally speaking any copper compound is "organic" even if its runoff is very toxic to fish.

    Note that pyrethrins are neurotoxic and super toxic to bees. Nicotine based organic farming bug killers kill a couple farmers per year, quite toxic.

    Its interesting that "most" natural pesticides are broader spectrum than artificial pesticides; the swiss are essentially deciding to wipe out honeybees in their country. I can see how beekeepers would be pissed in the short term, but in the long run wiping out honeybees is not going to help the plant farmers either.

    It would be interesting to see a social movement and ban on pesticides that were the most dangerous to humans and/or the environment. Unfortunately that does not seem to be the case for simplistic natural vs artificial pesticides as many of the natural ones are more dangerous than some of the artificial ones.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by esperto123 on Monday June 07, @01:48PM (18 children)

      by esperto123 (4303) on Monday June 07, @01:48PM (#1142729)

      That's the fallacy of natural, pesticides are a hot topic for people who still think (by innocence or malice) that anything synthetic is by itself worse than natural compounds, and this is very misleading, there are bad stuff on both sides of the fence but usually the synthetic stuff, as you said, were developed to be more targeted and to have less side effects to the environment.

      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, @02:40PM (3 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, @02:40PM (#1142747)

        We have people who are ignorant of the world they depend on and a press that functions relentlessly to increase their ignorance. When is the last time you learned anything from the mainstream press? Common people exist to be manipulated.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, @04:03PM (2 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, @04:03PM (#1142777)

          The enlightened former president warned us all about teh fake news. Don't listen to them, listen to him. /bleach

          • (Score: 0, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, @04:16PM (1 child)

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, @04:16PM (#1142786)

            You're proving his point... This [statesman.com] includes the quotation of Trump's comments regarding "bleach":

            "A question that probably some of you are thinking of if you’re totally into that world, which I find to be very interesting. So, supposedly we hit the body with a tremendous, whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light, and I think you said that hasn’t been checked, but you’re going to test it. And then I said supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way. (To Bryan) And I think you said you’re going to test that, too. Sounds interesting, right?

            And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning, because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it’d be interesting to check that, so that you’re going to have to use medical doctors with, but it sounds interesting to me. So, we’ll see, but the whole concept of the light, the way it kills it in one minute. That’s pretty powerful."

            Media: "Trump said drink bleach. He literally killed people. Vote Biden or you're voting for a murderer!"

            • (Score: 0, Troll) by js290 on Monday June 07, @09:00PM

              by js290 (14148) on Monday June 07, @09:00PM (#1142901)

              Offtopic: between Fauci funding GOF and Birx not knowing about the history of UV irradiation, Orange Man was only sane & reasonable person up there re:'rona...

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, @04:15PM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, @04:15PM (#1142785)

        Remember talking to a major potsmoker who was insisting that it was totally harmless because it's "natural, man!".

        So I told him that if natural things are harmless, he should load up on totally natural cobra venom. Harmless, because it's natural!

        I haven't seen a pothead so angry ever before.

        • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Monday June 07, @06:24PM

          by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Monday June 07, @06:24PM (#1142839) Journal

          Socrates last statement: "I drank what? . . ."

          --
          In order to make Halloween scary this year, children are ordered NOT to wear masks.
        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday June 08, @04:31AM

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday June 08, @04:31AM (#1143022) Journal
          Nonsense. Cobras buy their venom wholesale from Dow Chemical!
      • (Score: 2) by Socrastotle on Monday June 07, @04:23PM (4 children)

        by Socrastotle (13446) on Monday June 07, @04:23PM (#1142788) Journal

        I think most people who espouse for natural things don't even really understand why it is that natural is often preferable.

        The reason is because natural things are things that have been used in many cases for thousands of years, and so unforeseen consequences can be mostly discounted. By contrast today even things as benign as paracetomol/tylenol continue to have a multitude of new micro-level effects discovered and it's effectively impossible to determine whether there are any macro-level effects simply because they've become so ubiquitous that there's really no such thing as a control sample anymore.

        Of course the bastardization of this is when we are able to classify various new compounds as "natural" owing to the inability to create accurate legal definitions for such things that often have a rather hand-wavey yet still well understood connotation.

        • (Score: 1) by js290 on Monday June 07, @04:46PM (1 child)

          by js290 (14148) on Monday June 07, @04:46PM (#1142800)

          Naturalistic fallacy applies to ethics, not risk. The Precautionary Principle... within the statistical and probabilistic structure of “ruin” problems. [fooledbyrandomness.com]

          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday June 08, @04:33AM

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday June 08, @04:33AM (#1143023) Journal
            I don't see a PP (Precautionary Principle) analysis of PP at that link. But then again, if they did, they wouldn't be doing PP.

            Eat your own dogfood - and choke on it.
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, @05:49PM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, @05:49PM (#1142822)

          > things as benign as paracetomol/tylenol

          Poor example. That stuff _is_ poison. Even using the recommended daily dose for too long a consecutive period can cause liver damage. The LD50 (median lethal dose) and effective dose are way too similar. Amazing it is sold over-the-counter nearly everywhere in the world.

          • (Score: 2) by Socrastotle on Monday June 07, @06:17PM

            by Socrastotle (13446) on Monday June 07, @06:17PM (#1142834) Journal

            Yeah, very fair point. Terrible word choice on my part. I suppose by benign, I should say 'normalized' or something. Because it definitely is not benign.

      • (Score: 0, Disagree) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, @08:32PM (4 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, @08:32PM (#1142892)

        Pretty sure this guy is spamming. The links look very suspicious, anybody wanna check? I ain't doin' it!

        • (Score: 1) by js290 on Monday June 07, @08:58PM (3 children)

          by js290 (14148) on Monday June 07, @08:58PM (#1142900)
          not a lotta confidence in reliability of ACs...

          "Wittgenstein's ruler: Unless you have confidence in the ruler's reliability, if you use a ruler to measure a table you may also be using the table to measure the ruler." - Nassim Nicholas Taleb

          — Nassim Nicholas Taleb's Wisdom (@TalebWisdom) April 9, 2020 [twitter.com]

          Wittgenstein’s Ruler (McCarthy's Maxim): "Most of the time, people’s observations about something else reveal more about the observer than what’s being observed." [bit.ly]

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, @09:37PM (2 children)

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, @09:37PM (#1142916)

            You could not hide your links with bitly, but I guess complaining is more your kind of speed.

            • (Score: 1) by js290 on Tuesday June 08, @02:14AM (1 child)

              by js290 (14148) on Tuesday June 08, @02:14AM (#1142997)

              An AC accusing someone of hiding, that's rich... The yt vids are bookmarked with bitly, anonymous idiot.

              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 08, @02:59AM

                by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 08, @02:59AM (#1143013)

                Just cough up the real link, and you might get some respect. That "bitly" shit looks like goatse spam.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, @09:11PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, @09:11PM (#1142905)

      One of the big issues with organic is that most people have no idea about the pesticides that are allowable under the regulations. People also don't realize how dangerous naturally occurring substances can be. For example, cyanide is completely natural. Organic also includes a bunch of stuff that's really not that important while still allowing the use of pesticides that many people wouldn't expect.

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