Foot and Mouth Genesis- An Eco-Marxist Explanation

Paddy Apling e.c.apling at
Wed Mar 28 04:42:48 MST 2001

Tony Abdo is on his "organic" trip again - while Brian James is more on the

To try to make political capital out of a viral infection really does take
the biscuit... tho' there are some anti-"organic or deep-ecology" movement
lessons to be drawn.

The infection started at what appears to be something like a "peasant"
smallholding in Cumbria where pigs were fed on swill which quite likely had
not been heat-treated as required by the regulations (the farmer involved
had been warned on such matters previously) and may well have contained food
imported from Asia where the virus apparently hails from.

The spread has been initially due to movement of animals over large
distances for slaughter - a movement which derives from closure of local
abbatoirs as a result of the BSE scare - tho' movement of animals over large
distances is nothing new:  in my historical researches on my local village I
have the record of cattle driven from the Isle of Angelsey to a local farm
in 1556 !!! and Smithfield Market had cattle brought regularly from
Scotland - marched on the drove roads and rested temporarily in Norfolk on
their way to market - so movement of animals over large distances pre-dates
the industrial revolution....

Furthermore it is noteworthy that foot and mouth disease is endemic in
countries of Asia and Africa where modern scientific agriculture has not
been developed - whereas the countries of Western Europe and North America
where large-scale, scientific, "capitalist" farming is the rule are just
those countries which have for many years been free from the disease:  so it
is idiotic in the extreme to blame the disease on "capitalist farming".

And as for imagining that Marx would have supported the backward looking
"organic" movement is equally fatuous.  Marx and Engels were rather
evangelists of the application of science to agriculture as well as to
industry and what is now called sociology.  It makes rather more sense to
say that Marx and Engels would have been appalled that so many people were
being conned into believing that there was any advantage in "organic"
farming - and, in particular, that others were scaremongering about the
application of the new scientific techniques of genetic manipulation to the
more rapid development of improved crop varieties under the idiotic
appelation "frankenstein foods".

And Judith Varley's aticle shows many misconceptions - just to take one, she

> Do we want prairie monoculture farms throughout the UK? It happened in
> the eastern counties in the 19th century and could happen everywhere in
> the 21st. Arable farming requires heavy chemical intervention. Chemical
> "fertilisers" and herbicides are applied frequently, a practice
> encouraged by the agrichemical industry. With little or no organic
> material returned to the soil, the soil loses "heart" (interesting term,
> that), degrades and disappears as dust in the wind. It is happening in
> East Anglia. Desertification is increasing throughout the world. The
> interior of Australia is a good example of ancient degraded dust bowl
> land, not in this case because of modern monoculture agriculture but
> caused by consistent droughts and wind erosion with the same effect.
> Europe's young soils could become like that, too.

Now ALL arable farming requires chemical intervention (whether from
industrial chemicals or FYM (= farmyard manure) - as plant nutrients removes
off farm in the crop must be replaced to avoid reducing crop yields and
desertification (remember the US dust-bowl of the 30s ? - where small
farmers could not afford to buy fertilizer).  In East Anglia the soil blow
most notorious is the blow of 1688 when the village of Santon Downham was
completely submerged in the windblown sandy soil.  [Due to "capitalist
farming"  ?????].  But now this Breckland area (the nearest thing we have to
a desert in UK - with the lowest annual rainfall) gives excellent crops -
with minimal disturbance of the soil and no fallow periods - new crops often
sown within 2 weeks of cropping the previous crop - and the application of
both FYM (when available) and industrial fertilizers to maintain soil
fertility.  Rather than desertuification - scientific agriculture has
restored a near-desert to a productive arable area.

And what does this word "monoculture" signify - ALL arable farming for
centuries has been based on sowing a single crop, keeping it free from
"weeds". Who wants their wheat mixed up with corncockle, poppy seeds etc etc
??  It is just a daft "evocative" but meaningless word.....

And as for her remarks on animal feeding - it is just in the advanced,
large-scale farms that animals are fed on quality-controlled, scientifically
balanced, diets instead of the cheapest stuff to hand - tho' I do agree with
her that the paucity of local abbatoirs IS something to be deplored....

NFHS Member #5594
Mailto:E.C.Apling at

> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-marxism at
> [mailto:owner-marxism at]On Behalf Of Tony Abdo
> Sent: 25 March 2001 13:29
> Subject: Foot and Mouth Genesis- An Eco-Marxist Explanation

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