Right now I’m “studying” ancient history, i.e. the neolithic world and the rise of agriculture.

Part of the reason for it was…climate change. I mean, if the Sahara hadn’t changed from a lush grass plain full of animals into a desert, the people would never have bothered to settle along the Nile and plant crops.

This is not to argue that we shouldn’t stop pollution, but that simplistic arguments to demonize SUV’s and destroy the US economy by following Kyoto are not the way to go.

Yet now there are reports of other sources of “global warming”, such as cows.

And today’s scare tactic? It’s the rice paddies, stupid.

You see, most Asian farmers use manure to fertilize the fields, and the slow flowing water is deep enough to keep the weeds down. The water which is high in oxygen content allows bacteria to dissolve the manure and chaff used as mulch, and is a natural fertilizer for the rice.

Indeed, with the price of imported rice so low, our family has gone back to using traditional fertilizer and pure organic methods to produce organic rice. The bad news is that our yields are lower than those who use artificial fertilizer and insecticides/herbicides, but because we are organic, we can sell it at a higher price to upscale yuppies in Manila.

But now, alas, the global warming hysteria has hit.

And those hit worse? Asian traditional farmers.

What annoys me is the article talks of burning rice husks instead of letting them rot in the field. Right. Translation: buy high priced nitrogen fertilizer from multinational corporations, let the rich men running the large rice mills take this byproduct and make money from it instead of having the local rice mill process it. And, of course, no water buffalos (well, we use hand plows, which are large tillers, and much easier to use…not as friendly as water buffalos, but easier on the back of our farmers).

And if the farmers stop flooding the fields, that means buying herbicides. Again, a triumph for multinatinal corporations.

Finally, see that part about China’s emissions from rice going down? Two reasons: One, forced abortion to stop the population, and two, they are now rich enough to buy rice from other countries.

Again, importing rice means using petrol to transport it from VietNam and Thailand.

The Philstar cartoon says it all:rice farmer globalization and high tech mass production of food will destroy poor independent farmers.

Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and fishmarket 

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