Thursday, August 16, 2007

An Angry Letter

The following letter was send today to the CBC Radio program Sounds Like Canada currently hosted by Kevin Sylvester. I am reposting it here in the hopes that it will demonstrate how we need to change our thinking towards the natural world and avoid getting into a battle with nature (for nature always wins in the end).

Dear Kevin,

While coming in and out of the shower today, I was distressed to hear guests of your show maligning plants - maligning being the sort of thing one does out of ignorance.

First off, there is no such thing as a weed. This classification is given only by people who are trying to do the wrong thing in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Nature does, however, provide us with a raft of plants that repair damaged landscapes. The field thistle (Cirsium arvense), mentioned by one of your guests for example, is an indication of overgrazing. So after damaging a field, this kind plant comes along and tries to repair the damage. And the thanks it gets? All out warfare against a soil-restoring plant with edible roots and medicinal uses as an antiphlogistic (anti-inflammatory), and liver tonic. And I could make similar comments for the ox-eyed daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare) and leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula).

One of the plants not mentioned, which has caused tremendous damage to Canadian agriculture is genetically modified canola; and we might throw in genetically modified corn as well. The former has caused great losses to Canadian canola sales and the latter, considering that it is wind pollinated and that they now use GE corn to "grow" insulin, may wind up killing you one day.

Or perhaps plants in the Gramineae (grass) family. People devote billions to this nearly useless plant polluting themselves and their neighbours with dangerous pesticides and the emissions from lawn mowers (which have no catalytic converter).

Labelling plants as "weeds" is the sign of either ignorance or lack of creativity. There is a place for all of nature, if only one bothers to discover what that place is.


Douglas Barnes
Torrance, Ontario