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The Vanishing of the Bees

I once saw a very good documentary called The Vanishing of the Bees ( which if incidentally you get a chance to see then you should- quite haunting stuff but really well done and inspiring - if nothing else you’ll want to plant more flowers). The basic premise of the documentary is that industrialised farming, with their monocultures and their over-reliance on pesticides is detrimentally harming the very thing that farmers depend on- the bees which pollinate their crops. It reminded me of a fabulous book by Michel Odent called ‘The Farmer and the Obstetrician’ - which again I highly recommend you read. In it he argues that we have not understood the ills of industrialisation in the world of farming until it is too late- or at least until we have outbreaks like foot and mouth and mad cow disease, and that we are in danger of treading the very same path in our ‘industrialisation’ of the birth process. too much is undertaken in the context of birth for reasons of efficiency, and to cope with the sheer scale of hospitals and the number of births they are coping with. As a result, too little time is taken with each women, tending to the emotional side of birth. Protocols are introduced, be they the routine use of pit to speed up labour, or the arbitrary time limits imposed on stages, or the use of EFMs ( when they have been proven to bestow no benefit on mother and child and simply increase c-section rates) - not to make birth better or easier for the mother or baby, but to make birth easier to manage for the hospital. And all of this without any idea of where it might lead us or what the consequences- both medical and social- are of this huge interference with an otherwise natural process.

It was Ghandi who said speak only if it improves upon the silence. Surely we should apply that adage to any natural process- intervene only if it improves upon the natural process. In far too many cases it doesnt, and we are yet to discover what the consequences of this is. Surely we need to stand back to gain some perspective, lest it takes a disaster to warn us of the perils of interference.

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