Organisation - February 1, 2015

Column: No more poison

In spite of my Dutch Reformed upbringing, I formed the conviction that people are capable of all good. It is not always easy to hold on to such a conviction, though. And I cannot in all honesty say that the rational-economic thinking at Wageningen UR supports our better nature. Because people who follow it often throw rational scientifi advice overboard.

At the Bio fair, the annual event in the organic sector, I heard two fantastic stories about farmers who chose to do good.

A potato farmer was spraying his crops to get rid of foliage before harvesting his potatoes. After a couple of days he saw that it wasn’t enough and decided to spray again. He was riding around on his tractor spraying poison when he saw a pheasant sitting brooding on a nest full of eggs. The creature was a sad sight in the middle of a blighted crop. Totally unprotected. She looked up at the tractor anxiously. That touched him; something broke inside him at the sight of her expression. It was a decisive moment: ‘I am never going to spray again!’

Another visitor at the Bio fair had an even more intense story about his neighbour. ‘He was an ordinary dairy farmer until his son was run over by the tractor and died at the farm. Life lost its meaning. The farm limped on. He went into a deep depression until one day a homeopathic doctor said to him: "Switch to organic. A new direction, free of poison. Walking over your land pulling out thistles with your hands and leaving your pain and grief in the hole they make. You can’t do any of that if you are sitting up on a tractor spraying poison at the thistles." The contact with the earth has brought him peace. He is a farmer with all his heart and soul again.’