Re: Why preserving biodiversity is Extropian

Brian D Williams (
Mon, 16 Feb 1998 09:17:06 -0800 (PST)


>You're really grasping at straws at this point. Several areas on
>earth (old world civilized floodplains) have had their natural
>ecosystems obliterated millenia ago, and apart from salinization
>in the Tigris-euphrates system, they all work fine. You also
>omitted my point that our current crops have been well
>demonstrated to have no need at all for biodiversity.

I would take issue with the idea that our current crops have
demonstrated there is no need for biodiversity. As I am part Irish,
I will remind you of the historical lesson of the potato famine of
1847 (remember less we repeat). The vast portion of the country was
dependent on a single strain of potato, the "lumper." When a blight
was accidently introduced the whole country was devasted, millions
died or fled. Agricultural experts around the world warn daily that
we are repeating this historical mistake.

I share your admiration of hydroponic/nutrient film techniques

The "smart-money" is taking a different course than the one we
have been talking about so far.

Enter the new agricultural world spawned by the hobbyists known as
"heirloom gardeners." In searching for the fondly remembered fruits
and vegetables of their youth, groups of gardeners have been
searching out the varieties they seek amongst various ethnic
groups. These seeds have been contiually propagated and passed from
generation to generation, hence the name "Heirloom."

To these people biodiversity is everything. Heirloom seed
catalogues list hundreds of varieties of such simple things as
beans, corn, or tomatoes. (and yes potato's!) Not only have they
mamaged to preserve and repropagate these plants but they are
creating new varieties that self-polinate. (non-hybrid)

Where is this headed? Not only are new seed companies being
created, reversing a disturbing trend, but they are selling and
growing these varietys. Farmers, forced to change by current
economics, are turning to these techniques, growing new, and old
varietys all of which offer better taste and nutrition. Former
hobbists, the heirloom gardeners are now becoming "market
gardeners" growing large quantities under contract for specific
restaurants. Here in northern Illinois farms that were close to
being lost are expanding to meet the ever growing demand for these
products, enjoying the advantage of being close to there market,
and earning greater profits on these high value added items.

This is a global, multicultural trend, good news all around I'd

Member, Extropy Institute