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Why do we let the tail wag the dog?

Is this a foretaste of livestock and grain farmer harassment in the near future?

The Prairies produce approximately 85 to 90 per cent of Canada’s honey with a major reliance on canola flowering.

All kinds of minor groups rail against the vast majority of ordinary citizens; for example, the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) or the anti-herbicide or pesticide groups in our cities. Take Edmonton, for example. In the city zoo, they have a long-term elephant called Lucy. The elephant is now in her mid-forties, which is very old for an elephant, and she has been a resident at the zoo since she was orphaned at the age of two years old in Sri Lanka.

Lucy is not in the best of health, but for the last 15 or 20 years there has been an active Edmonton group of individuals who have ceaselessly campaigned to move Lucy to Memphis, Tenn., to an elephant sanctuary. Elephants, like dogs, will bond with their keepers or owners and do not mix readily with strange elephants. This group keeps insisting on moving her, saying that she is unhappy and needs elephant friends. They also say she needs freedom, but she has arthritis and moves with difficulty. Additionally, they state the snow in Edmonton is a hardship. Should I tell them that I got caught in a severe blizzard in Memphis some 10 years ago?

This group of extremists, perhaps some 40 or more, have spent countless thousands of dollars on advertising and demonstrations. They regularly have a half-page advert in the Edmonton Journal newspaper at considerable cost.

Couldn’t they have spent this money on improving Lucy’s living quarters, providing her with play equipment or games? Did they purchase her supplemental or exotic foods? Have they the money to pay for her transport and possible long-term exile in Tennessee?

I am using the above information just to illustrate how totally irrational, obsessive and easily influenced people or groups of people can be. And it’s just a foretaste of what I expect will be the harassment of livestock and grain farmers in the near future.

Fortunately, the mayors of Edmonton have repeatedly ignored this Lucy the Elephant tail-wagging group.

In other instances, we have the anti-GMO people.

A famous writer in the United Kingdom who has frequently talked publicly in Canada is Mark Lynes. He, at one time, took part in the destruction of GMO crops and then he visited an agricultural library. When he read GMO facts, he switched sides and he is now a very strong advocate of GMO crops. His current concept is GMO crops are the only way to feed the world population.

Many pest control products that have allowed farmers worldwide to double and even triple crop yields have been unjustifiably vilified. These pest control products that control destructive weeds, diseases and insects have become targets of groups and organizations that simply benefit from their withdrawal. A product such as glyphosate has been repeatedly labelled as carcinogenic. Hundreds of tests and trials have never shown this weed control product is in any way carcinogenic.

In a legal court battle recently in California, an urban jury and a bunch of eager lawyers had glyphosate branded as a carcinogen that resulted in the death of an individual user of this weed control product from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). Studies over the last five or so years have shown in the United States while the use of glyphosate has tripled, the incidence of NHL in the general population has never shown any increase. So, how is it in a progressive society, the scientific information on a specific product is disregarded in favour of an uninformed urban jury and aggressive profiteering lawyers?

Right now, beekeepers in Ontario are lobbying for the removal of neonic insecticides with the very flimsy evidence that the dust from treated soybean and corn seed escapes and pollutes wildflowers and has been poisoning their disease-ridden bee hives.

The Canadian Prairies, on the other hand, produces some 85 to 90 per cent of Canada’s honey, with a major reliance on canola flowering. This is a crop that is extensively treated with neonic insecticides with no complaints from beekeepers.

The American author Robert A. Heinlein once wrote, “Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.”

About the author

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Dr. Ieuan Evans is a forensic plant pathologist based in Edmonton, Alta. He can be reached at [email protected]

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