27. As You Spike It (01/2010)

by brettthevet

The infinitely intricate entities of so-called pests evoke cries of horror and elation: they can mean death or salvation. Our detachment from nature facilitates hostility towards animals that are simply living out their niche. Human attitudes rouse corresponding retaliation or reconciliation from animals. We have the choice to be at one or war with nature. Peaceful coexistence is a rarefied challenge.

The perceived nuisance of useful insects is a warped reality often met with profuse and inappropriate lashings of deadly poison, when fragrant herbal repellants would suffice. Ants invaded nip harmlessly at naked toes only to protect their nests of kin, as they work recycling dead animals to make way for the living, aerate the soil, and provide food for other animals. There’s savoir-faire in freeing the air of pestilential sprays on days of flies and heat while they get on with decomposing meat. Butterflies drenched in colour floating over soft, scented petals epitomizing lightness of being represent another phase of life beyond drudgery chewing greens. Yet flowers, and fruit are still produced by plants with leaves latticed by larvae labouring towards transformation. Making peace with mosquitoes that scheme to extract sanguinary sips slips from combat to admiration for tingling, filigreed resonance in harmonious, fluttering chorus. The flip side of irritation is intrigue.

Nonchalant distribution of noxious substances continues unbounded, regardless of human and other animal health. Every day people casually contaminate themselves, children, pets, livestock, plants, and the environment (including underground water) with poisons powerful enough to kill usually indestructible insects. No poison is harmless even in small amounts, and many are known to accumulate in human flesh, absorbed through the skin and breath, or ingested with food and water. There are serious deleterious effects of poison on the body in the long-term. An alarming range of attributed illnesses including cancers, blood disorders, and hormonal disruptions has been described through medical research.

Mathematics for pesticide dose rates is easily confused and it’s not unheard of for ten or more times the recommended concentration to be applied. Ticks are tough but die at the suggested dose. Sheep are strong but also die beyond a certain threshold of tolerance. Blood and the meat contain poison in unpredictable amounts. Just as the remarkably unblemished and no less delicious fruit and vegetables available on sale for the general public are often laced with poison without warnings. There are many safe ways of controlling parasites that do not involve the use of pesticides.

For pets the poison comes conveniently calculated in drops with a booklet of warnings in small print. Now there’s resistance at vast expense while garlic, essential oils and diatomaceous earth remain cheap and effective. Presumably everybody wants companion animals that can be safely petted on the back of the neck.

The growing organic movement demonstrates recognition of the ill effects of poison and renounces its use, while actively embracing sustainable agriculture. Every living being except man knows its place in the world happily occupied within a functioning ecosystem. Consciousness about the inherent value and sanctity of all forms of life is something only humans need to learn.