Category Archives: Pesticides

Leverage Points & Paradigms of the System

“In the end it seems, that power has less to do with pushing leverage points than it does with strategically, profoundly, madly letting go.”

The cases of Hayes, Carson, and Kelsey are all extremely similar in that each of them discovered incriminating information about drugs and chemicals used by large corporations.  Each of them began to be plagued by paranoia that they were being watched by the companies.  Meadow describes Leverage Points as places to intervene within a system where a “small shift in one thing can produce big changes in everything.”

9. Length of delays, relative to the rate of system changes

This also relates to the way that Hayes’, although choosing to cut ties initially after discovering the negative effects of Atrazine, with held this information for the sake of reputation  and therefore began to risk his own credibility as Syngenta began to build their case against him risking his reputation even more.

6. Structure of information flow

This is used particularly within Hayes’ case as he seeks to disseminate information by publishing his studies, which is later discredited by the corporation with their own false studies.

5. Rules of the system (such as incentives, punishment, constraints)

The rules of the system are vital to the cases of Hayes, Carson, and Kelsey as it is clear that large corporations are able to create these rules while independents are forced to follow them without any shift to transcend these paradigms.

The Persevering Class

The New Yorker’s “A Valuable Reputation” examines yet another case of an ethical scientist vs. a large corporation. This is not the first nor the last case of science vs. profit, and in this unfortunate system of deregulation and privatization, the only solution, it appears, is to completely change the system.

When science, economics, and politics become so intertwined that the goal of safeguarding humanity becomes obsolete, it’s clear that the system is fundamentally flawed.

A few days ago, I visited the Brooklyn Grange, a rooftop farm, and after being in the concrete jungle of New York City for so long, seeing nature really refocused my attention on its importance and relevance, even in the city.

While many people follow the notion of “out of sight, out of mind,” the importance of knowing what is going into our bodies is ever so important in a world of profit driven farming, where corporations will do anything, including breaking the law, to make more profit at the expense of the environment, our health, and the law.

Scientists like Dr. Tyrone Hayes, Rachel Carson, and Frances Oldham Kelsey work diligently to maintain ethics in science and research and it’s unfortunate and unnerving to read about the mistreatment of scientists who solely wish to protect humanity. Targetting his credibility as a scientist, Syngenta made Dr. Hayes paranoid and seemingly mentally ill. The power they had to control his life in order to hide the truth about their harmful product is frightening, and surely the government and the EPA needs to take better steps to regulate products in an objective way. It’s refreshing to hear about people like Frances Oldham Kelsey, though, and to see how their dedication and ethics can truly prevent disasters.

This article deeply explores the idea of “sound science,” a campaign by corporations to “slow the pace of regulation,” as stated by the article’s author, Rachel Aviv. As we’ve seen in Merchants of Doubt and various other articles and films, corporations need only produce a certain factor of doubt and uncertainty to divide the public and keep their products in the marketplace. And focusing their attention on these issues, as opposed to the science itself, corporations lose track of what’s important in the grand scale of the world and long term impact.

What surprised me about corporations such as Syngenta is their focus on public relations departments. While one might think the purpose of such a company is to provide safe products that enhance, for example, the way vegetables are grown, these companies instead focus on convincing the public that their product is safe, rather than spending the time and money to make a new, hopefully safer one.

This article, however, introduced my to the process of cost-benefit analysis, in which, according to Aviv, “a monetary value is assigned to disease, impairments, and shortened lives and weighed against the benefits of keeping a chemical in use.” This system frightens me and I expect a majority of the public would agree that no product, regardless of its economic benefits, would be worth the lives of innocent citizens.

Thinking about how different products might impact my daily life, I think about NYU’s food service Aramark. From the personal scale of seeing the workers pour gallons of pre mixed eggs from huge bags onto the stove to make scrambled eggs to seeing the precut fruit coming out of sealed packages rather than being freshly cut, I am disgusted by their practices here in the dining halls. But, I can only imagine where this food is coming from and how they and their contractors treat the animals, fields, and workers.

Of course, everything I read online about Aramark and every corporation is going to be biased, but I’ve learned through this article to continue questioning everything, to look closely at the sources of all research and products, and to never sell myself out for money.

City Seed – Greenery for the Concrete Jungle

Just because you don’t have a lawn or garden doesn’t mean you have to live separate from plant life!  I’m working with Skyye James to launch a company called City Seed, which brings plant life and all its benefits to dorms and apartments across big cities like New York.

Skyye mentioned in her blog post that plants filter out our air through photosynthesis.  Now imagine the impact of placing one medium sized plant in every dorm and apartment in New York!  We could begin the process of reducing CO2 emissions just by surrounding ourselves with luscious greenery!

City Seed Advertisement Logo
City Seed Advertisement Logo

What makes City Seed unique?  We are using 100% up-cycled containers to package our seeds.  This means our plants can live comfortably in the containers they sprout in, and when they get bigger, the customers can choose to transplant them to a larger containers for the plants to thrive longer!

The first product we plan on testing in our up-cycled containers on sunny windowsills is lavender.  Lavender has a lot of health benefits, including decreasing stress through aromatherapy and healing minor burns.  I grow lavender at home in a large pot by my window, and the distinct aroma travels all over the house!  Best of all, it’s proven to relieve headaches, burns, insomnia, stress, and much more!

Lavender in small container
Lavender in small container

Imagine if college freshmen had a natural stress reliever in their dorm rooms!  And it doesn’t end with lavender.  We are hoping to trial various other plants with stress-reducing and ailment-relieving benefits, like peppermint and chamomile!

Lastly, City Seed teaches young adults about small scale agriculture, a very important skill to have.  We live in an age where much of our food is imported and/or genetically modified for color, shape, and a longer shelf life.  By learning how to grow your own plants with help from our instructions, up-cycled containers and awesome soil mix, you can understand what natural agriculture looks like.  Believe me when I say it’s rewarding to see the organism that you tend to, thriving!

My biggest task going forward will be the media for our company!  I’m planning on creating a short video advertisement and how-to video for growing our seeds at home!  I would also like to create a Twitter and Instagram account for our company to reach out to young people living in small spaces within big cities.

I’m beginning to take a look at a bunch of short videos about planting lavender so I can decide what is most important to show customers as well as decide the best way to show it!

We can’t wait to bring #CitySeed to your windowsill.