Is a cow milker safe for sex
Milker! A word that in the Middle Ages was aimed at the honor of the Swiss. Because milking cows was a woman's business. A man who milked, so a woman. That, in turn, is an insult. Well times are changing. Today the machine is milking and the biggest insult to Swiss farmers is: poison farmers!
Poison farmer? Farmer and farmer wear traditional costumes, true tradition. Back when the fascists threatened our country, the peasantry became the central point of reference of our identity. Spiritual national defense: Swiss style is peasant style. We were all farmers back then. At least in the heart. So why does a growing part of the population see farmers as a minority today? In addition, as one that pollutes our environment? How did it come to this?
The truth is: we Swiss have always been one step ahead when it comes to pesticides. We even won a Nobel Prize for it in 1948. More precisely the Solothurn chemist Paul Hermann Müller. He found out that the active ingredient DDT kills pests. His discovery was touted as a miracle cure for world hunger. Indeed, productivity increased. It was the starting shot for industrial agriculture as we know it today. Man finally had something to counteract the pests. And did it. After two million tons of DDT were released into the environment worldwide, it became clear that this stuff has massive side effects. It was withdrawn from the market in the 1970s. In the meantime, however, a whole arsenal of remedies had been invented to make life easier for farmers. But it was always the same: new pesticide, great joy, serious side effects, ban. In Switzerland, around 150 active ingredients have been banned from pesticides because they have turned out to be dangerous in retrospect. As a result, we Swiss have not lost our top position when it comes to pesticides. Syngenta, based in Basel, is a group with global spray power. Although now in Chinese possession.
One problem for pesticide manufacturers is the growing sensitivity of the population to the environment. One thing is clear: biodiversity is decreasing. Not yet quite clear what exactly this means for humans when there are fewer insects, earthworms, bees, birds and the like. One thing is certain: it changes everything. A study published by Geneva scientists last week is also bad for business: The sperm quality of 3,000 recruits was examined. It is low, and the Swiss are at the bottom of the list when it comes to sperm quality in European comparison. One possible reason: pesticides.
And then there are the organic farmers. They have been proving for decades that synthetic pesticides can be used. Anyone who has ever spoken to organic farmers knows: They like to tell how they were laughed at by the other farmers when they switched their farm to organic. But they are even more obsessed with the ground. You could talk about it for hours. From earthworms and microorganisms. One of them is the organic winemaker Bruno Martin from Ligerz BE. «The soil is not ours. We're just guests, ”he says. Short-term profit thinking has led Swiss agriculture to a dead end. "Today we have broken floors and polluted drinking water."
The farmers would have left the natural cycle of nature.
However, nature can be brutal. Potato farmers know that. Her nightmare is late blight, and it made sad history: in 1845 the fungus destroyed almost the entire harvest in Ireland. Because the potato was the main source of food and was grown in monocultures, a million people died of starvation.
Today, organic potato farmers use copper against late blight - this is also harmful to the environment. There are also those who just watch the potato plants and cut them away before the late blight has a chance. A farmer from the Zurich Oberland for 50 years. Once he lost his harvest anyway. But could get over the loss because he had grown other foods. The conventional potato farmer sprays pesticide. Also as a precaution.
Back to the farmer and the question of who they are today. Organic farmer Gertrud Häseli from Wittnau AG says: "Farmers have become slaves." Organic farmer Martin Ott from Rheinau ZH: "Feed sellers and pesticide manufacturers have led the farmers into dependency with a sophisticated system." What they mean by that: Conventional agriculture depends on pesticides, concentrated feed and artificial fertilizers. It is almost impossible for a farmer to keep track of which pesticide and which fertilization is necessary, to what extent and at what point in time. That is why there are agricultural advisors. “The big brother”, as Ott says. Big brother likes to help. But not altruistic. The big brother is Fenaco.
Fenaco, a group with sales of seven billion Swiss francs in 2019. Better known to many as: Volg - fresh and friendly. Or Ramseier - the power of nature. Or as Landi, fertilizer dealer Landor, feed manufacturer UFA, meat processor Ernst Sutter and motorists as Agrola filling stations. Around 100 brands are united under the Fenaco umbrella. Established in 1993 from a merger of farmers' cooperatives, Fenaco today has an almost dominant position in the agricultural sector. At the beginning of the year, Fenaco's daughter Landi offers the farmers consultation hours or visits them directly on the farm. The fertilizer and pesticide schedule for the selected production is discussed. Where the farmer lacks the knowledge, the consultant is very well informed. Ultimately, it is provided by the manufacturers and distributors of the relevant products. If you buy early, you get a discount.
The pea business is an example of the extent to which Fenaco has agriculture under control. If a farmer wants to grow peas, Fenaco frozen products subsidiary Frigemo sends the farmer a contract stating the time of sowing. The seeds are delivered, the pesticide use precisely specified - by Fenaco. While the peas are growing, the Fenaco consultant always knows what still needs to be sprayed. When the peas are ripe, Fenaco comes with the harvesting machine - and the peas are gone.
A giant machine in contrast to the earthworm, which only does one thing: eat, digest and shit. But it does to perfection what pesticide and fertilizer manufacturers want: the soil is fertile and the plant is resilient.
But Fenaco doesn't make money on the worm. In contrast to Hans Fuhrer, by the way. The organic farmer from Aeschi BE actually lets earthworms work for them. After years of tinkering, he created a composting system with which he can extract worm soil. Millions of microorganisms, bacteria and fungi live in what the worms excrete. Fuhrer has already sold his worm soil to farmers from the Bernese Seeland. An area in which particularly intensive agriculture is practiced and the soils are correspondingly depleted by artificial fertilizers and pesticides. "Worm earth that is worked into this soil brings the soil back to life," says Fuhrer.
We got off the subject. Fenaco and the farmers are very closely linked. The Fenaco president is on the board of the farmers' association. With Guy Parmelin and Ueli Maurer, there are two men on the Federal Council who were once on the board of directors of the cooperative. Parliament has 32 farmers' representatives. Among them also Fenaco board member Leo Müller and farmers' association president Markus Ritter. So far, thanks to the support of the bourgeoisie, the farmers have always succeeded in asserting their interests: billions in direct payments, hardly any concessions to more ecological agriculture.
What still works in parliament seems to work less and less for the population. Otherwise there would not be two initiatives that demand a radical change of direction from farmers - the pesticide and drinking water initiative. Both want an agriculture that preserves and does not destroy. To put it simply: organic. For all of Switzerland.
That would be bad for Fenaco’s business. For Syngenta, which operates worldwide, the Swiss market is negligible - but the signaling effect would be bad.
The farmers themselves appear unanimous to the outside world. You are against both initiatives. BioSuisse is for the pesticide, but against the drinking water initiative. The latter because they fear that there will then be more organic farmers and that sales will decline. Bruno Martin, the winemaker from Ligerz, made this decision so hatefully that he scratched the organic bud glue off his car. In the meantime, however, there is also a farming committee that fights for the drinking water initiative. Martin is there.
An organic farmer is also at the forefront of pesticides. Markus Ritter, National Councilor and President of the Swiss Farmers' Association. He says: “The initiatives are too extreme, go far beyond the target and do not bring anything to anyone in this country. But nobody at all. " The drinking water initiative is even counterproductive in terms of ecology. Many thousands of jobs would be lost and food prices would rise sharply.
Fenaco says the same thing when asked, just in different words. According to its own statements, the farmer's company would be affected, especially in food processing. With the Ernst Sutter (meat), Ramseier (apple juice) or Frigemo brands, which, in addition to the peas mentioned above, mainly produce French fries - exclusively for McDonald’s. Fenaco is certain that if the farmers were yes, they would be able to produce less, and that there would be a lack of goods in processing and that more agricultural products would therefore have to be imported. "This would also shift environmental pollution abroad."
Against the demonization of pesticides
Syngenta does not want to say anything itself and refers to Scienceindustries, the trade association for chemicals, pharmaceuticals and biotech with members such as Bayer, Novartis and Nestlé. They think: The “demonization” of synthetic pesticides is wrong. "We need innovations because this is the only way to solve the challenges of the future." This is the only way to preserve biological diversity and curb climate change. And in principle: “The federal government enact legal regulations. "Pesticides may only be placed on the market if they have been tested and assessed as safe for people and the environment."
And so the farmers' association is entering the referendum campaign alongside Syngenta and Fenaco. Your opponents are - quite powerful - environmental protection associations and a population that wants clean drinking water and intact soil.
Syngenta recently had two successes: With a complaint to the Federal Administrative Court, the agrochemical company obtained that the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office can no longer say that chlorothalonil is “probably carcinogenic”. Chlorthalonil is an active ingredient used to combat fungal attack in agriculture, sold by Syngenta and has been banned in Switzerland since 2020. Chlorthalonil is in our drinking water. The EU has banned the active ingredient because it classifies it as “probably carcinogenic”. Last week, Syngenta was also able to lift the limit value set by the federal government for chlorothalonil residues in groundwater with a lawsuit.
The peasantry is no longer the identity of our country. But in the heart of us non-farmers it still lives, the longing for the original, the rhythm of nature, the pure. But that's not what the Swiss farmers can do for that. They simply produce what we non-farmers ask for. And so one could say: every country has the farmers it wants.
The initiators of the “For Switzerland without synthetic pesticides” proposal say that pesticides are a health hazard. That is why they should be banned in Switzerland.
And not only in agriculture, but also for hobby gardeners and in the food industry. Imported food would also have to be pesticide-free.
The drinking water initiative criticizes the fact that farmers cost taxpayers billions and at the same time pollute water and the environment. The initiative wants only those farmers to receive direct payments who do without synthetic pesticides, feed their animals with feed from their own farm and do not give preventive antibiotics.
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