Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Learning or returning?

The idea that NZ's agriculture industry should learn from the past has cropped up a bit recently. Agknowledge is clearly arguing for more emphasis on legumes for example. And according to Jacqueline Rowarth in the latest Rural News (not online yet) "winding back the clock 20 years to save New Zealand land and water" was promoted at a recent resource management law conference. She thinks it's a bad idea and does her usual myth busting thing, praising "technology", slagging off raw milk and claiming that "the dominant imperative now is cheap food from a well managed environment.....winding back the clock is not the answer". 

What interests me is Jacqueline's focus on returning to the past, rather than learning from it. That sets up a false dichotomy and implicitly assumes that newer is always better. Pretty disappointing attitude from an academic, but maybe this is what happens when business dominates science: technology becomes redefined as something you can sell. Ironic also that this should coincide with the Economist's highly critical analysis of modern science. 

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