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The Key to Good Health (part 2)

Here, in question-and-answer form, is the second part of a special report by
internationally famed Swedish biochemist, manufacturer and lecturer, Eric Eweson.


IN THE previous issue Mr. Eweson revealed that in the last fifty years — and notably in the New World — there have been greater demands on the land than the land can give without losing its natural fertility. This situation cannot be remedied by chemical — or commercial — fertilizers, as we call them, which are being used so extensively in modern times to increase the yield from the soil.

Mr. Eweson revealed that the theory of chemical fertilizers was born of war. It was conceived Jin Germany during the latter part of the nineteenth century by a gentleman whose name was Baron Justus yon Liebig. He developed his theory by analyzing organic matter and noticing the predominance of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash. He then conceived the idea of adding those major elements to soil in the form of water-soluble chemicals to increase production.

The idea seemed to work like magic and was gradually adopted all over the world. But one important fact was overlooked!


Life Was Missing!

Science has found that even if we add to the soil these chemicals which are the ones used in the largest quantities by plant life, we still use up the organic living portion of the soil. And the greater the quantity of chemical fertilizer that we apply, the faster is the organic, living portion used up!

As the organic matter diminishes, we must increase the quantity of chemicals to obtain the same yields — not to mention the loss of quality. Gradually we will arrive at the point when there isn't enough of the humus fertility left in the soil to sustain a crop, NO MATTER HOW MUCH CHEMICAL FERTILIZER WE APPLY. In common terms, the soil is then said to have "died."

Now for questions and answers about the soil and your health.


Part II

The following questions were asked Mr. Eweson at the conclusion of his lecture, which was delivered at Ambassador College in Pasadena, California.


QUESTION: "What effect do chemical poisons have on the soil? In this nation chemical poisons are used on many crops to kill boll weevils, codling moths, and many other crop-destroying insects. What effect does this have upon the microbes in the soil?

ANSWER: It has a toxic effect on all life in soil. In soil it is not only the soil microbes that are desirable, but you have an enormous number of beneficial insects. Often some preparatory work has to be done by such insects, after which the microbes appear and finish up the job.

By using pesticides and poisons of various kinds to combat weeds, pests and parasites, you will always have a poisonous residue that will become incorporated with the soil. Such residues are invariably harmful to soil life, and can have even worse effects than chemical fertilizers.


QUESTION: "You mentioned that insecticides have been applied to plants and gone into the soil, and their effect on the soil. What relationship, does good soil have in reduction of diseases and pest infestations in orchards and fields? In other words, what can be done in the soil itself to reduce pests and diseases in plants without harming the soil?"

ANSWER: My idea would be to improve the fertility of the soil. Pests and parasites have always existed, but they were never as dominant as they are today on our exhausted soils. We have now had modern pesticides for some 20 years. Yet pests and parasites have never been nearly as much of a problem in agriculture as they are today. For some 4,000 and more years humanity managed very well without pesticides. All this proves that with fertile soil, pests and parasites are not a serious problem.

Remember also that we NEED pests and parasites, because their purpose is to destroy the weak and the unfit. That is a basic organic principle. Without such natural censorship the species would not improve but would degenerate. A weak plant is one that should be prevented from reproducing itself. Note how many of the pests and disease organisms go right to the seed. Take the corn borer or the larva that destroys the seed of apples, and pears. This has the aspect of a natural law, which is difficult to prove only because we don't yet know enough!

We know that when we use more and more pesticides the pests develop greater and greater immunity. Mosquitoes and flies become immune to DDT in, a season or two. So we have to use bigger and bigger doses and stronger and stronger poisons to control the pests, and yet we have more than we've ever had before.

This is a serious dilemma and a big problem. I don't say that we can be absolutely sure about fertile soil being the complete cure, but take agriculture in the times of your father or grandfather. Farmers then certainly didn't have much problem with pests and parasites. I know my father didn't. They could not have made a living by their old methods if they had had our insect problems.

We actually know very little about the hundreds of different pests and parasites that bother us. After all, just because we have names for them doesn't mean that we know much about them. Today it seems the average American farmer spends more money and time on pesticides than he does on anything else. Take tobacco, for instance, which they must spray three to four times a Week, and if it should rain, they must immediately spray again in order to replace what washed off into the soil. These are the instructions given by the Department of Agriculture!


QUESTION: "What is the extent of damage that is done to the soil bacteria by commercial fertilizers?

ANSWER: I can tell you that only in general terms. Water-soluble chemicals, like nitrates, phosphates and potash, are all toxic. They are so toxic to plants and to microbes that if you apply too much both the plants and the microbes die. You and I would die too if we should consume even a very moderate dose. Water-soluble chemicals, of course, do not remain in the soil, as they would soon leach out They are, therefore, used in much larger quantities than the plants can absorb.

By using the chemicals moderately you can, however, minimize the toxic effects but you can't AVOID the fact that plants and soil microbes are still affected as to metabolism and cell structure! Wheat, for instance, used to average 16% protein. Today our wheat averages no more than 12% protein. While such a drop of ¼ may not appear too serious, we don't know what all it entails.

We do know that it is the protein that carries the trace minerals, the enzymes, the vitamins. That 4% difference may well mean difference between a good wheat and a very deficient wheat. Farmers today know that they have to feed much larger quantities of grains than they had to in times past.


QUESTION: "Much has been said in the last few years about 'trace minerals.' Has study revealed just what the functions of these minerals are?"

ANSWER: That is more than I can answer, and in defense I may say that nobody quite knows. We are discovering new angles continuously. Until some ten years ago nobody thought that boron, manganese, or molybdenum were very important nutrient elements, but now we have found that they are absolutely essential. Copper, zinc, fluorine, iodine — all of them are necessary for some purpose, and in some cases we know why. At least we know what happens if they are unavailable to plants, animals and humans.


QUESTION: "Why is it that farmers often have to buy seed even for open-pollinated corn, instead of using their own seed year after year?"

ANSWER: Because their own corn, being grown on a chemical diet, does not germinate properly. The same occurred in respect to tomatoes that were grown by hydroponics. In other words, tomatoes were grown on a new kind of food — chemicals. But they were not accustomed to it — and it is doubtful that they could ever be — so they would not produce germinating Seeds to perpetuate themselves. It is the same with our grains being grown largely with nitrates, phosphates, and potash chemicals. They were not made to grow on a diet composed mainly of those three chemicals! Such a diet induces plans malnutrition. This causes disturbances, one of which is that seed loses germinating strength. The same occurs to yeast grown with chemical nutrients.


QUESTION: "When you say to let the soil rest, what do you mean?"

ANSWER: To rest the soil you generally grow some kind of a cover crop on later to be plowed in to increase the organic content of the soil. Of course, you can also put the land in pasture, which will also improve it to some degree.

In some European countries like Holland and Denmark, where modern intensive agriculture had an early start, they soon found that the soil began to deteriorate. Then chemical fertilizers came into use to increase yield's, which confused the situation for about fifty years.

Today in Europe most people are aware of the need to use the municipal wastes for the land, and it is now being done more and more extensively. But very few are as yet making real compost by modern methods. In fact I know of only two countries where it is done, in Spain and Norway, and those factories were built by me.

Others are merely 'grinding up the wastes and segregating glass and other foreign matter for salvage. The ground organic matter is put on the land and plowed in for decomposition in the soil while the land rests. That can be done if the soil still has some humus fertility left. But if such raw organic matter is applied to soil that is too poor in microbial life then, of course, the organic matter fails to readily decompose and become humus. Using raw un-decomposed organic wastes on the soil is far from the-proper way, but is much better than our chemical ways!


QUESTION: "What is the American Medical Association's approach to this problem of soil health?"

ANSWER: The great majority of the Medical Association are not as yet aware or concerned about it, but there is a very active minority group of physicians which is keenly awake to the situation.


QUESTION: "Would you recommend any particular books on the principles of conservation?"

ANSWER: The last ten years have seen a great deal of new literature in this field. There is especially one man who has written very clearly on the subject, yet not in too scientific terms. His name is Leonard Wickenden. He has written several very readable books. We have, of course, also the Englishman, Sir Albert Howard. He was really the father of this new concept of natural agriculture. He died only a few years ago. He was one of my teachers at one time. He did most of his work in India, and was the originator of the so-called "Indore Method" for making compost on farms; not industrially, which is my great interest.

In our society we must, to survive, use our city wastes in order to solve, not only our soil problem, but also our desperate air and water pollution problems. For this we need a method that meets modern demands for sanitation, results in no objectionable odors and requires a minimum of manual labor. You can't get manual labor in our society for making compost of our municipal wastes by primitive, ill-smelling methods.

But done by modern industrial technique it is just as clean an operation as making yeast or operating a dairy. The materials are processed in closed fomenters into which sewage would be piped. Garbage and other refuse is also handled largely by machines. The high temperatures developed during the process of fermenting is an absolute guarantee against the survival of any microbes harmful to man or beast.

We have proven that it can be done and that the end product is a most effective fertilizer. There remains the need for vision and a will to pioneer.