Questions. Questions! Questions?

68px-Question_mark.svgThere are, aren’t there, many types of questions? Rhetorical questions, leading questions, straight questions, difficult questions.  Latin, I dimly remember from school, had particular ways of asking questions to which the expected answer was ‘yes’ and other ways of asking if the expected answer were ‘no’.

I’m quite a questioning person myself.  ‘Why is the world like this?’ I used to ask as a biologist, and ‘Why is the world like this?’ I used to ask as an advocate.

Inverted_question_mark_alternate.svgThe UK’s national academy of science, the Royal Society, is holding a meeting on sustainable intensification of agriculture on 9 May.  You can’t question the Royal Society for being trendy – after all they have a lock of Isaac Newton’s hair upstairs in their library – what could be cooler than that?

But for Britain’s top boffins to ask ‘Do environmental services and biodiversity have a place in farming policy?’ seems a bit of an easy question.  If the answer is ‘no’ then I’d like a rebate of my share of the two billion pounds a year that we have been paying farmers for years.  Question_mark_alternate.svgAnd if the answer is ‘yes’ then I wish Defra would pull their fingers out of wherever they are trapped and deliver some decent value for money for our investment.

Even the silliest question is worth asking sometimes.

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10 Replies to “Questions. Questions! Questions?”

  1. My question for the Royal Society would be how have we ended up with an impoverished countryside, unhappy farmers, falling yields, rising food prices, climate change running riot and the production, distribution, packaging and sale of food done in such a completely unsustainable way? Answers on a postcard to Owen Paterson please.

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    1. The majority of the population’s choice to pay the minimum possible for food and a desire not to work for the minimum pay. In nature it would be called natural selection.

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    2. "Answers on a postcard to Owen Paterson please"

      Much as it is fashionable to want Rambo, a Johnny-come-lately, to cop the blame for everything, I think it is a tad unfair to dump the blame for the last two centuries' "progress" at his door

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      1. From MK's comment I didn't make the assumption that the cause was all down to Mr Paterson. However, knowing that the problems exist and not doing anything about them, whilst in an ideal position to do so... that would leave a guy open to a bit of criticism. Mind you, we all have choices to make that can affect these outcomes, be it at home, the supermarket or the ballot box.

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      2. "I think it is a tad unfair to dump the blame for the last two centuries’ “progress” at his door"

        Which, to be fair ,MK does not do. Owen Paterson is, however, the man at the helm at the moment and has the possibility to adjust the direction we are heading in, even if he can't entirely reverse it.

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          1. Filbert, I appreciated your response along with all the others. So that's alright then 🙂

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  2. It seems that the right question isn't being asked. The answer to the above would most likely be a 'Yes', but it's too genral. More precise and personal proddings would yield a rewarding response. Can anyone imagine a DEFRA functionary being bothered with yet alone having the wherewithall to offer 'value for money'. An easy and natural way to absolve responsiblity. Insisting on a more specfic reply and action regarding the dept.'s obligations and job description without the manipulated statistics would stir more action and less likely to get lost in the 'fast turnover' media. Not so much naming and shaming rather an invitation to step up to the plate. An opportunity to show their backbone, the results of their efforts, might heave a few from behind their desk.

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  3. Is the question the wrong way round ? Should it perhaps be 'does intensive farming have a place in provision of ecosystem services and biodiversity ? ' What a mad suggestion - but stop a moment and remember that farming policy has evolved (but not a lot) from wartime near starvation. MAFF was set up to administer and agreed, set policy - it never had a remit to think or adapt and it hasn't. So, which is going to be more difficult to import food or freshwater ? What happens when we intensify so much that the biological processes around our agriculture start to fail ?

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