CATHRYN SWAN: It’s Not That Anyone Wants to Kill Butterflies

It’s not that anyone wants to kill the butterflies. Or the bees. Or the hawks. Or the owls. Or the ladybugs. They are collateral damage in the war against “weeds” or “pests,” deemed unwanted interlopers in our society’s quest for perfectly manicured, pristine surroundings.

Modern farmers are more and more abandoning time-honored methods, in order to prevent nature from “getting in the way” of their goal of efficient crop production. In fact, all organisms that inhabit the earth may become casualties in day-to-day decisions being made by farmers, landowners, parks officials, golf course CEOs, and perhaps your next door neighbor, aspiring to control nature and achieve a more sanitized world. The poisons they employ, designed to banish these “interlopers,” put all living beings at risk.

And worse, we are up against government policies heavily influenced by powerful corporations, the chemical companies and their lobbyists. They may not intend to kill, but their actions, most often motivated by financial profit, can and do cause deadly harm. They are dismissive not solely of sci­entific research but also of centuries-old wisdom, and of environmentalists and activists who use that knowledge in their prolonged and varied fights to save complex life on earth.

The weeds targeted for destruction often serve as food sources for birds and animals. Weeds also provide food and nectar for insects, which in turn feed birds.

Who determines what is a “weed” or a “pest”?


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