Silent Spring III

What do singing birds have in common with olives? Both of them are parts of our surroundings we often consider mundane. However, they’re part of a story that uncovers a dark aspect of modern agriculture. In May 2019, the scientific journal Nature published a call for action regarding a mechanical olive harvesting practice that left millions of birds dead in tractors carts. We had the chance to speak to Vanessa Mata, one of the authors of the Nature article about regimes of uncertainty and the precautionary principle in the context of EU environmental legislation. Elli Rivers, a researcher studying birds populations responses to environmental changes and activist that started an international petition, gives insight into the role humans assign to animals and why it would be too simple to deem farmers the bad guys in this situation. The story of the birds and the olives brings up questions about how long we can sustain a globalized, hyperconsumerist system exploiting natural resources until the environmental consequences become irreversible. Conny Keckeis, a member of the Kartoffelkombinat cooperative in Munich, offers glimpses of what an alternative agricultural model to supermarket aisles filled with the same fruit and vegetables all year round produced in monocultures could look like.



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