Can Earth be sustained with 7 billion humans on pesticide-laden food?
The month of October 2011 saw, “seven billion” as a new answer for Jeopardy fans. The question is … what is the population of the planet Earth.
There are now 7 billion of us humans on Earth. Yikes! I was taught 4 billion back in grade school. I wasn’t paying attention when we passed 5. And I never knew we were at 6. So now I learn that my dad was born when we were at 2 billion. I was born at 3 billion back in 1959. My son, an ‘89-er was born when we were at 5 billion. So in only 22 years, we humans have produced another 2 billion people … that’s more than today’s total population of North America, South America and Europe combined! For the first time in human history, there are 7 billion of us. That’s a lot of McHappy meals for one day, or seriously, that’s a lot of required food production. And in a world that needs to eat, that means a lot of crop dusting with pesticides to ensure the highest crop yields in human history
But while we have developed an ability to produce enough food for 7 billion, are we going to keep expanding the use of pesticides to kill the bugs that want to eat our food. Every school kid will know that using poisons to kill bugs ends up hurting the environment and therefore, us! Back in 1992, when we were still at 5 billion, the World Health Organization, estimated that 3 million pesticide poisonings occurred annually, causing 220,000 deaths. This estimate did not account for any long term environmental health effects. We now know about the condition called the pesticide-treadmill in which a bug’s ability to develop resistance to pesticides are warranting new stronger poisons to be developed on a continuing basis … and thus the treadmill cycle of newer poisons for our environment. We are also rapidly developing various genetically modified organisms (GMO) to make herbicide-tolerant crops and insect-resistant crops
I don’t know if we are now eating insect-resistant GMO food, but I am certainly not keen on ingesting food that has been genetically altered to include a toxic-to-insects gene
So do we have a choice? Joni Mitchell sang the words, give me spots on my apples, but save me the birds and the bees. She penned those forgotten lyrics 40 years ago … when the world was half its current human size. Perhaps we are only now appreciating the importance of pesticide-free organic food
The demand for organic food is growing, and its costs will decrease with this demand. And technology companies are moving to this space too. One such company is SemiosBIO of Vancouver BC, which is developing a pheromone spray distribution system to disrupt the mating cycle of targeted insects
Pheromones are the sexual attractant that bugs release into the air to find its mates. The SemiosBIO system works by releasing a synthetic version identical in effectiveness, but disruptive by confusing the males from finding the females. The result is a spoiled mating season, executed with precision mechanics, sensors, and a mesh network over the entire area of the farm. Different pheromones are required for different bugs and these can be contemplated by the precision organic farmer
No bugs get killed in the SemiosBIO pheromone method. There are no poisons involved … and the environment is preserved. Bees do not become collateral damage in the war on bugs. And birds can feel good about eating bugs on farms again. Frogs and fish are happier too as no poisons get washed into their wetlands
Benefits to this system by SemiosBIO are many. Not only is the system clean, green and organic, the pheromones are easy to produce thanks to clever effort by the company scientists who have made this their life’s work. The key is their design of the right pheromones and their release at the right amounts at the right times. Other commercially available technologies help with the precision mechanics. The science is in the pheromones, and the engineering is underway at SemiosBIO. Lets hope they get this system to market before the world gets to 8
Have a great day … and say hello to your new neighbours … there are 100 million new ones with us this year
Jack Gin … Oct 2011
PS …. Disclosure note: I liked the company SemiosBIO enough to warrant an investment, and became one of several angel investors in its first year of operation. The entrepreneurial excitement is coupled with the understanding that the work is important, and speed to market is of the essence
www.SemiosBIO.com … follow this company as it strives to tidy up the food chain.
About Jack Gin:
Vancouver born, raised and educated, Jack Gin is a business executive, advisor, mentor and entrepreneur. He is also an engineer, inventor, philanthropist and speaker. He has a track-record of building success stories and has travelled to 30 countries to market his products across the globe. He is the founder (1997) and former CEO of Extreme CCTVwhich he took to an IPO (EXC:TSX 2002) and its sale to Robert Bosch GbmH (2008).
Prior to that concluded exit strategy, he was recognized with the Entrepreneur of the Year Award (Technology, Pacific Region 2007) and Burnaby’s Business “Newsmaker of Year” (2007).