The Green Blues Show – Edition 42

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In this edition of the Green Blues Show: Conserving seeds, long-lost legumes and cultural memory. And in the fight against drug-resistant bacteria, a very popular herb seems to have the right stuff – cannabis.

 

There is no justice in the world. Not in human affairs. Not for the planet.

Over the course of the past century, humanity has blanketed Earth’s surface in a shroud of concrete, asphalt, aluminum, heavy metals, black carbon, fly ash, pesticides, toxic organics, radionuclides and plastic.

Alberta Tar Sands (Credit: Andrew S. Wright)

Not surprisingly, our living relations have been disappearing at an unprecedented rate.

Earth’s most robust creatures, insects, provide a scary glimpse of the damage humans have wrought. According to a recent report, pesticides and habitat destruction have wiped out half of the world’s insects, and an estimated forty percent of the world’s million insect species now face extinction.

Insects are natural plant pollinators. Their decimation may spell disaster for global food production, ecologists fear.

Meanwhile, in the human domain, the five most powerful nations on Earth pick and choose which laws they’ll abide by, doling out slices of impunity to allies and clients.

In the northwest Syrian province of Idlib, almost a million people are now on the run, terrorized by a Russian-backed Syrian bombing campaign aimed at weeding out Islamists nurtured and armed by US ally Saudi Arabia.

Israeli activist Miko Peled tells an Israeli police commander what he thinks.

Just to the south, five million Palestinians live under Israeli subjugation and apartheid. Israel’s settlement enterprise in the Palestinian West Bank is flagrantly illegal. Canada and the European Union say so, but do brisk business with the settlements anyway.

Donald Trump’s Deal of the Century has just given Israel the go-ahead to annex large swaths of the territory, in breach of one of the most central tenets of modern international law — the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force.

On the other side of the planet, Kim Jong-un can brandish nukes, because China lets him.

It’s all nothing compared to the lawlessness of the British and French, selling high-performance arms systems to deep-pocketed human rights abusers around the planet, and the truly colossal crimes of the United States. By one recent estimate, the US has had a hand in the deaths of over twenty million people since the Second World War.

Clearly, on this living planet of ours, justice and neighborliness are in short supply.

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Vivien Sansour is a farmer, seed saver, artist, author, cultural entrepreneur and visionary based in the town of Beit Jala, on the edge of Bethlehem, in Israeli-occupied Palestine.

Vivien Sansour in a Bethlehem food forest

An anthropologist by training, Vivien has turned to the promotion of food and cultural sovereignty as her life’s work.

Speaking with farmers from Palestine to Latin America, she’s been learning about the heirloom fruits and vegetables people hold dear, gathering their seeds, recipes and landed memories.

I visited Vivien in the village of Battir, just outside Bethlehem. She showed me her heirloom garden, then took me on a walk to an agroecology plot she’s been developing, in the shadow of Israeli occupation and apartheid. Read more about Vivien here and here and here, and listen to our conversation in today’s podcast.

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Drug-resistant bacteria are one of humanity’s great emerging threats. They just pop up, in response to the antibiotics we douse them with. What doesn’t kill them makes them stronger.

In the midst of the current coronavirus outbreak/pandemic, the statistics on multi-drug resistant bacterial infections are sobering: According to the US Centre for Disease Control, almost three million Americans are infected by drug-resistant bacteria each year, and almost 35,000 die. Morbidity and morality rates are similar in Canada and the EU.

Eric Brown &  colleague Jerry Wright (David Kattenburg)

Drug discovery costs money, and takes lots of imagination. Now, a group of researchers at McMaster University, in Hamilton, Ontario, have turned over an interesting stone, so to speak. Cannabis. Prospecting for antibacterial cannabinoids, Eric Brown and his team have discovered that a non-psychoactive component — cannabigerol — is an effective inhibitor of the notorious methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Also of so-called ‘Gram-negative’ bacteria that have special ways of resisting antibiotics.

Eric Brown is a Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences at the DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research at McMaster University. Listen to our conversation in today’s podcast.

In this edition of the Green Blues Show, songs by Davy Graham and Robert Jr. Lockwood

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