11-year-old Birke Baehr presents his take on a major source of our food — far-away and less-than-picturesque industrial farms. Keeping farms out of sight promotes a rosy, unreal picture of big-box agriculture, he argues, as he outlines the case to green and localize food production.


Comments

  1. #1 Lynn Wilhelm
    December 12, 2010

    Great speech from a cute kid. But what kind of misinformation was he spreading? Irradiation and GE crops. Did he talk about a correlation between cancer and GE crops (or did he imply causation)? Maybe he knows something I don’t know.

    I’m all for organic, when appropriate, but one can go overboard.

  2. #2 Anastasia
    December 12, 2010

    Good on him for being 11 and well spoken and curious about the world around him. However, I’m not going to cut him any slack just because he’s 11. Argument from nature fallacy, appeal to emotion, blah. And yeah, he said there was causation between genetic engineering and cancer. I wonder where he got his information. It certainly wasn’t from Biofortified or any science-based source. Frankly, TED is dead as far as I’m concerned. It’s turned into a cutsey platform for grandstanding, not real innovation as it was in the beginning.

  3. #3 gwen
    December 12, 2010

    Anastasia, I agree with you 100% He doesn’t know what he is talking about. We have been genetically engineering food for thousands of years. We can just do it more efficiently these days. Everyone who has had cancer has been alive, ego living causes cancer. He was spewing so many logical fallacies I had to turn it off at the two minute mark.

  4. #4 daedalus2u
    December 12, 2010

    I can’t get video feeds where I am, but I found a transcript.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/birke_baehr_what_s_wrong_with_our_food_system.html

    I don’t cut him any slack either, and neither should anyone who considers themselves a skeptic or a scientist, or even a responsible adult.

    Who ever is home schooling him should get brought up on charges of child abuse for filling his mind with so much false claptrap. I fault those in the audience who didn’t call him on his false statements.

    That he is a cute kid (i.e. charismatic) doesn’t give him a free pass. You know who else was charismatic? People who do give him a free pass are teaching him that being charismatic is enough to get by on.

    I understand that people who are not working in the field of food borne diseases, food irradiation, agronomy or cancer causation might not care that the technology is so misrepresented and demonized. That person who was charismatic misrepresented and demonized a lot of people too, one group at a time. Then he killed them, one group at a time. Someone wrote a poem about it. Something about a bell.

    That same things happen with facts. Once you allow people to be fast and loose with facts, then facts don’t matter any more and all you are left with is truthy, and someone charismatic has better truthy than you do, and if his truthy tells people to start ringing bells, they will do it because they can’t think with facts any more because there are no more facts, just truthy.

  5. #5 Ellie
    December 13, 2010

    Add my voices to those above. He’s seems to a good kid with a great deal of everything a person needs to get on in life, and he has been let down badly. First by whoever taught him what he thinks he knows, secondly by those that let him get up in front of a global audience and expose his ignorance to what is likely to be very harsh criticism and, finally, by those at the conference who failed to give him that criticism.

  6. #6 MadScientist
    December 13, 2010

    But what the hell does he mean by “green and localize”? My family had to dispose of our farms because the encroaching cities ruined them. You need huge tracts of land to do things economically and you’re at nature’s mercy when it comes to the wetting and drying of the soil (and depending on your crops and location, frost as well). I still see farms disappearing because of encroaching cities; cities and farms just don’t go together for a variety of reasons. I’ve always been amazed that those corn farms in Peoria county could hold out as long as they have.

  7. #7 MadScientist
    December 13, 2010

    Oh man,that talk is *bad*. And I don’t mean awesome either – I mean awful. GMO = cancer! It’s “not what nature intended”! Fertilizers made from fossil fuels? That’ll only be a small number that can be economically produced from fossil fuels, and ammonium nitrate produced in part via the Haber process; most fertilizers are dug out of the ground. Nitrogenous fertilizers are not the only type out there and in many areas are not sufficient. I see his home schooling is doing a fantastic job of training him to be unscientific. Po’ kid.

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