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Wile E. Peyote

Harvest Ethics

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Ethics are never a black and white thing. The question shouldn't be "is it ethical" but rather "how ethical is it" or "what ethical concerns do you consider".

 

I think wild harvest from any reserve is largely unethical unlesss it is an exotic species or otherwise set to be removed. Even then there are ethical environmental issies to consider as weeds etc. can still offer habitat for many native species. We can point to traditional and sustainable use of plants all we want but we don't live that life style. We are all a product of emerging technologies and culture that is not sustainable. We are an unsustainable population and if we decide to wild harvest, there will be consequences. There already are for many species.

 

Replanting in natural, non-disturbed areas should absolutely be avoided. The risk of introduction of pathogens is too great. Accidentally transfering Phytopthora from an isolated home garden to a huge natural ecosystem that lacks the ability to fight it off can have devastating consequences.

 

Collecting seed to disperse back into natural ecosystems at another site can also be problematic. Although you do increase genetic fitness for that population, this may not always be a good thing. By doing this, you will lose local adaptions which may be necessary for survival in that ecosystem. You may also introduce new genetics which may, for example, kill the pollinators in that local population. You may increase plasticity and vigour in tha population but to the detriment of all the other plants which are now outcompeted. And perhaps this then changes the fire regimen and leaves the entire ecosystem barren. Who knows? It's extremely complicated.

 

I don't know of any Australian plants that are used ethnobotanically and can't be cultivated bar some of the mycoheterotrophic orchids. They are most certainly unethical to harvest.

 

My opinion is that we should grow these plants as much as we can. If they're hard to cultivate and require a complicated and specific ecological framework for their survival, they're probably an important part of that ecosystem and should remain there anyway.

Edited by Freakosystem
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I was talking to a colleague about the conseracacian project and he brought my attention to a similar project concerning Bufo alvarius that I hadn't heard about. Their messaging strategy was 'save a toad, exploit a chemist', through which they are basically trying to encourage people to preference synthetic 5-MeO-DMT. Apparently there are two related articles on Psychedelics Today and a webinar, none of which I have been able to find. If I do locate them, I'll share them here. If anyone else knows how to access them, please do the same! 

Also interested to hear opinions on the ethics of smoking toad venom.When do you feel this could or couldn't be justified? 

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Earlier in this thread I mentioned the relationship between indigenous people and plant conservation. I've often pondered if indigenous people are entitled to maintain wild harvest practices that impact on vulnerable species. I mentioned a podcast with an interview with KT in a different thread the other day (https://www.indefenseofplants.com/podcast/tag/3?fbclid=IwAR1Flce33poULl8cCqeWD6tW6drdg2ALcNSmLuToJLc2j2jI6cX1iP1nCzM) and in this podcast KT gives a great anecdote in which he expresses his support for Amazonian people to maintain their B. caapi harvest traditions, discussing a preference for vine over leaves even though leaves can be more potent and potentially more sustainable to harvest than vine. KT claims two people maintaining traditions with these plants stated the leaves tasted wrong (or something to this effect) and went on to suggest that this might relate to different alkaloid profiles, and that this particular profile was central to the maintenance of tradition.

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I met bufo in arizona, quality stuff. The person I was with, his pool was full of them, naturally, like 50-60 toads in one backyard pool. It's a bit inconvenient to the toad, but you can get the poison from the glands without harming the toad to any great extent, so I am not sure why such a project would be necessary in this case (but maybe there's something I am unaware of). Better off directing energy toward the toad's actual threats, habitat destruction/land clearance, I was told of problems with recreational off-road driving that confuses them by mimicking thunderstorms (causing them to come out of the ground in a dry spell). Other drug extraction from nature, totally agree, may be having significant detrimental effects. The NAC prohibition on cultivated peyote is an interesting case. Ultimately the pressure is from elsewhere, large scale industrial mechanisms and so on (what i mean is, there should be heaps of peyote, right, if landscapes were intact), but in this modern context problems can arise with over-harvesting (aya tourism also an example as you say, also commercial products like cat's claw or the ridiculous international trade in endangered sedums from california), or with plants with a limited distribution (A. phlebophylla). Always good to mindful, think local, think global etc., several interrelated problems and each species has its own issues.

Edited by Micromegas
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Cheers Micromegas, no I don’t think there is something you’re unaware of, my guess is that the toad campaign has some vegan vibes. Pretty small project without a lot of community involvement, I think. I’ve been able to find very little information about the campaign online.
 

Conservation is such an overwhelming issue. The information required is so vast, and then you need to organise people, institutions and all their contradictory interests. Sheesh!

Edited by Wile E. Peyote
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if you are old and mature you are more likely to do the right thing.

taking plants from the wild is ok if you don't eliminate the population.

many plants are super rare in the wild, so propagate at home, and re introduce into the wild.

 

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I still wonder if plants could speak for themselves what they would say about being removed from the wild.

Does anyone know any interesting case studies of species being reintroduced? Bonus points for psychoactive species...

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one thought, i experience more often this day's is...

how are "we" to judge plants abieleties, currently if we don't know what the future might hold.

 

we might say now, it's a plant of low value for healers,

but in the future, this view, might change (or better is likely to change).

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On 31/08/2020 at 4:07 PM, Wile E. Peyote said:

I still wonder if plants could speak for themselves what they would say about being removed from the wild.

Does anyone know any interesting case studies of species being reintroduced? Bonus points for psychoactive species...

the fact that flowering plants are super young to this planet, might suggest they are super attabtable, so maybe they want to be taken "home and be modified"...

 

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Thanks WC, I can be a bit of a pessimist about people/plant relations so it is nice to hear you reflect on this so positively. I hope you are right, I would be very pleased if my plants desired to live and be cared for in my garden.

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It's not just the careless harvest, but the careless planting of certain species that poses an ecological risk to biodiversity: 
Endangered acacias stripped of their root bark -- 

Imported lianas strangling native rainforest species -- 

two real-world scenarios worthy of every gardener's ethical consideration. 

 

 

 

 

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But how do we ensure we are taking sufficient care in our individual harvesting or cultivation choices? If I want to cultivate for conservation purposes, for example, how do I choose which plants and how many of each to grow?

I don't think there are clear or easy answers to these questions. My approach has just been to search for where my interests, experience and conservation issues intersect, to learn as much as I can about these intersections and apply my own effort in these contexts however I can. I dream of better organisation of consumers, gardeners, horticulturalists, ecologists, etc. as this would improve my confidence in making plant-related decisions. Sometimes it can feel like an overwhelming responsibility. I was even a bit hesitant to post that meme - maybe there could be big and scary implications if everyone started grafting to wild Opuntia. 

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Posted (edited)
On 30/10/2018 at 8:45 PM, Wile E. Peyote said:

 I guess I'm just trying to think from the perspective of plants. Are they ever like "fuck I wish these cunts would leave us alone I'd rather we all die than have our kids in some garden prison"?

 

I reckon mushrooms in particular are an offering of the mycelium. They are put up for reproductive purposes of course, but that spore release happens quickly, and then they are literally there for the taking.

 

I think their internal dialogue is one which revolves around fishing metaphors in terms of nervous systems to play with :wink:

 

edit: In terms of disturbing environs, etc. the mushrooms want their spores transported far and wide, so by simply being in their vicinity you are doing their bidding, so in their case I would say disturbance is necessary and perhaps invited to a certain extent, particularly given they can amend soil/colony damage fairly easily in most cases as it's in their nature to do so.

Edited by -RC-
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I for sure have seen paddock over harvested to the point that once abundant areas are now scarce. you should only take mature fruit and carry fruit in a open basket to ensure spores are distributed  

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12 minutes ago, teamwhy said:

I for sure have seen paddock over harvested to the point that once abundant areas are now scarce. you should only take mature fruit and carry fruit in a open basket to ensure spores are distributed  

 

I have definitely considered this, but I have seen areas that were ridiculously flush one year and absolutely absent for years after, with no overharvesting whatsoever, and have heard this echoed anecdotally many times.

 

I believe that mycelia will send up fruit if and when they see fit, and that just because you found them somewhere once is by no means a guarantee you will find them there again, regardless of conducive environmental conditions. They are very different to trees in that respect imo, and are largely invisible, and capable of developing into huge networks. If they have any modicum of consciousness then perhaps they pick and choose where they will reveal themselves, and perhaps even to whom...

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Just to complicate things, I imagine there are environments where P. cubensis competes with vulnerable species. In these cases maybe we would aim to reduce the spread of spores? 

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As far as Ps.cube goes I think it could displace natives but it would be really unlikely. for it to move from its niche into a forrest and live on native herbivore poo would be pretty rare but I'm not ruling it out. 

 

as far as mushroom consciousness goes, I have no doubt mushroom have intelligence they have a complex relationships with heaps of organisms but I think human are pretty low on the list of importance. maybe I'm wrong. maybe they have been just killing time over the last 25 million years building connections with bacteria, yeasts , other fungi, insects, nematodes and herbivores etc. waiting for the one special human to come along so it can reveal themself to them. 

 

we have such a human centric view of mushrooms we tend to anthropomorphise them. 

 

my comment about mature fruit and open baskets is just the standard practice of mushroom cultures all around the world.  

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19 hours ago, Wile E. Peyote said:

Just to complicate things, I imagine there are environments where P. cubensis competes with vulnerable species. In these cases maybe we would aim to reduce the spread of spores? 

Pastures and cattle are not natural environments in Australia, curious to hear how they could be competing with vulnerable species..

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Posted (edited)

Hi Wile E,

 

How's it going !? In regards to the synthetic 5-Meo/Bufo secretion conversation, did you see Hamilton Morris' original talk from WBAC 2018 where he discusses the relative ease of synthesis from other precursors or novel pathways to synthesis (albeit also ones that preserve the entourage effect of Bufo secretion which I think is important as in my experience there definitely feels like a definitive qualitative distinction). He's done a pretty good job of following up on some mistakes he made in the toad episode of Pharmacopiea (mostly concerning the identity of Al Most around which he was duped) new episode released a few days ago too.

 

Also check out the 'Ethics & Ecology'  section of the 5meodmt.org forum as there is some really amazing research contributions there: especially posts by 'Shy Violet' like the one entitled Amphibians on Earth (I'll copy and paste it below for those not members of the 5-Hive forum). Also the 'save a toad exploit a chemist' hashtag was created by Malin Uthaug, the author of the PsychedelicsToday article and she posts on the forum a bit as well as a podcast at Psychedelics Today. There's another good article over at DoubleBlind called 'Is it Worth Kidnapping Toads to Extract their Psychedelic Venom—When You Could Make it In a Lab?'

 

cheers,

 

Flux

Edited by Flux
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Amphibians on Earth - by Shy Violet

 

Amphibians evolved from fish about 400 million years ago, when the amount of dry land on Earth increased greatly due to climatic conditions at the time. Certain fish, (possibly Tiktaalik Rosea) adapted to these changing conditions by gradually developing limbs to crawl and lungs to breathe with. Such organisms came to be known as amphibians, a name that means “double life”.  Many of the species that developed during this period no longer exist. The groups of amphibians that survived to the present day can be traced back no further than 200 million years.

The word amphibian itself comes from the Greek amphibios, which means “living both in water and on land”, which refers to their distinctive feature as the only vertebrate group that generally possess an aquatic phase of life (larvae), and a terrestrial one (adulthood). This renders amphibian populations sensitive to alterations in both environments, leaving them in a particularly challenging ecological situation.

Because amphibians are highly sensitive to changes in their surrounding environmental conditions (i.e. temperature, humidity, water and soil pH, for example) they are considered indicator species. Given this, healthy amphibian populations are usually a sign of healthy ecosystems. On the other hand, as their populations and diversity decrease, so do the number of healthy ecosystems around the world, possibly signaling the loss of numerous other living species. In such a manner, amphibians give a rough idea of the local and global health of the planet.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which is the most comprehensive information source on the status of wild species and their links to livelihoods, and who publish  the “Red list”, which assesses the extinction risk of species, in the last 25 years, more than 120 species of amphibians have disappeared. The planet's amphibian species are becoming extinct at a thousand times higher rate than normal, according to the study by more than 500 scientists from over 60 nations that have contributed to the Global Amphibian Assessment: http://www.natureserve.org/conservation-tools/projects/global-amphibian-assessment

This is an alarming circumstance, especially considering that modern amphibians have been on the planet for more than 200 million years, even surviving the dinosaur extinction and all subsequent natural global climate changes, including extreme droughts and ice ages. However, the current rate of amphibian extinctions might be due to a particular sensitivity to anthropogenic environmental disturbances.

Scientists have theorized that this alarming decline in the numbers of amphibians and amphibian species around the world is due to a number of factors: pollution of freshwater ecosystems, the destruction of amphibian habitat by ever-spreading human populations, and possibly increased ultra-violet radiation due to ozone depletion. 

With regard to the toad in question on this forum, Incilius Alvarius, it is a large toad in the family Bufonidae that can grow up to 7.5 inches long and live up to five to 15 years in the wild. Its presence on the planet dates back to just prior to the formation of the Sonoran Desert roughly 8-10 million years ago to which its natural habitat almost exclusively coincides with. In the regions it is native to, Incilius Alvarius is protected by state and federal law.

None of the states in which Incilius Alvarius is, or was native to legally allows a person to remove the toad from the state. In New Mexico and Arizona it is unlawful to capture, collect, intentionally kill or injure, posses, propagate, sell or transport this amphibian. In Sonora, in order to capture or collect any amphibian, a federal permit is required.

Based on the IUCN’s Red List assessment of the status of this toad species conducted back in 2004, Incilius Alvarius is categorized as a “least concern” species, based on its “wide distribution, tolerance of a degree of habitat modification, presumed large population and because it’s unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category.”

Historically the Incilius Alvarius toad was found from southeast California, eastward across much of southern Arizona into extreme southwestern New Mexico, and southward through much of Sonora to northwestern Sinaloa.

No authors have noted declines of the Incilius Alvarius Toad in Sonora, however, in 2014 Yaqui Tribal members said the species had declined in the vicinity of Vicam and Bácum, and surveys at various sites in that region by retired biologist J.C. Rorabaugh and others in July 2014 failed to detect the species, although other anurans expected in the area were commonly encountered. 

This called the attention of a field biologist who has taken an interest to develop proactive measures to prevent the decimation of their populations. The species is monitored yearly in Arizona and no declines have been noted, but biologists have explained that the human impact would not be noticed immediately, but rather a few years down the road, when it may be too late to take proactive corrective action.

Since 2012, Incilius Alvarius has been undergoing ever-increasing human environmental pressure. The popularity of the naturally derived compound from this unique toad, its venom, has grown as the result of particular individuals who, although with good intentions to help people, have overexposed this once obscure little desert dweller in an exponentially global way, thus placing the toad populations in a precarious situation.

It is important to note that none of the states in which Incilius Alvarius is endemic to, legally allows a person to remove the toad from the state. In New Mexico and Arizona it is unlawful to sell or transport this amphibian across state and international borders. In Sonora, although you need a federal permit in order to capture, manipulate, or collect the venom, laws are a bit more malleable in Mexico than they are in the United States, which has resulted in vulnerable populations of toads south of the border.

The Mexican state of Sonora has seen an influx of foreign visitors over the past five years who, after learning about the unique feature of this toad through media outlets such as the Vice episode that documented the use of the toad-derived psychoactive compound, have decided to take it upon themselves to journey to Sonora, to places like Magdalena, which are easily accessed after crossing the border from Arizona into Mexico to get their own supply of the toxin.

With the continued popularity of this underground little creature partly through the release of films such as Episode 1 of the series titled “Shamans of the Global Village”, which features details such as how to identify the toad, where to find the toad and how to extract the venom, the threat posed for the continued existence of this toad is real and significant.

With more and more people each year going to the Sonoran desert from faraway places such as Australia and Spain to collect venom to take back home and, in some instances, actually removing the toads from their natural habitat, the viability of the species is being put at risk, and with it the health of the overall ecosystem in the Sonoran desert.

Even though Incilius Alvarius has a large reproductive capacity with large toads laying clutches of up to 8000 eggs each, their livelihood is challenged when the uninformed see it as a harmless action to remove the toad from its habitat. According to amphibian experts, when big specimens are removed from their habitat, the reproductive capacity of the species can be significantly compromised, and indeed lead to the decimation of an entire population in a given area.

Although amphibians are very susceptible to changes in their environment, they are also incredibly resilient. I think that while it may be fair to say that no harm has been done, we can take proactive action and develop a deeper attitude of reverence, gratitude and respect for the toads by simply leaving them alone. I feel it would be wise of all practitioners to stick to using 5-MeO-DMT in its synthesized form for their healing work, which is so valuable on this beautiful planet of ours.

As someone who is very interested in seeing clinical outcomes as well as mechanism of action studies conducted with this molecule, I fear that the wave of neoshamanism that has been fostering irresponsible and unsustainable use of this finite natural resource could effectively shut down our chance to get scientific work off the ground.

I would like to make a call to action to make sure we act out of the wisdom of our hearts, and not the nearsightedness of our mind. That we move forward with discernment and congruence, and not operating out of our blind spots.

At the rate things are going globally for all amphibians and locally for Incilius Alvarius, it would be wise for us to assume the worst case scenario and foresee that the species may well be decimated in the wild over the next decade if we keep up what we are currently doing as a community and continue to tolerate and turn a blind eye to the types of abuse going on – with the toads themselves, with unethical practices, with the incongruence of our actions, with the profit model that is commercializing this sacred gift of the Earth. 

Incilius Alvarius has been around the planet for 10 million years, can you imagine how devastating it would be if in a matter of 10, 20 or 30 years, humans came to wipe out what nature has so elegantly crafted in such a beautiful and delicate balance?

The dissonance between what people say and what they do is concerning. Please, let’s all wake up and get it right. What a wondrous opportunity this could be to rise above ignorance, greed, and stubbornness. If it wasn’t so tragic, it would be almost comical to think that while pursuing enlightenment and healing for the world, we are compromising the viability of the little peaceful creature we claim to love so.  What a powerful lesson the toad is trying to instill in us, don’t you think? It is almost like a cosmic test… let’s not fail this, let’s rise, use our deepest human wisdom and transcend the pattern of anthropocentrism and narcissistic tendencies that have characterized our species.

“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin”.
-William Shakespeare

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If the infinite can be grasped in a grain of sand, why dig up the whole beach?

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Hmm I think I was a bit hasty with using cubes as an example. I was just trying to highlight that while ethno communities often advocate for behaviours that encourage population growth of the species being harvested, this risks disadvantaging other species sharing the same environment.
 

Thanks for the background on the toad issue, Flux. I’m looking forward to the new season of Hamilton’s and have been resisting the urge to binge it. Interesting that Shy mentions the potential hazardous impacts of Shaman’s of the Global Village, when I saw the Lophophora episode I was disappointed that the issue of plant conservation was not really addressed in that either.

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On 07/10/2018 at 12:17 PM, Wile E. Peyote said:

I feel that in some contexts it must be ethical to take seeds/cuttings from endangered plants for conservation purposes. How can someone determine when/where this is appropriate?

 

When and where this is appropriate is when this is done by professionals with a specific recovery plan. If you're a punter taking living material from an endangered species and thinking you're somehow helping, you're wrong. Ex situ conservation only works properly when approached with proper planning and background research. Inbred cultivated material is generally useless for conservation purposes. Having an endangered species in captivity without any plan of breeding it with other individuals and reintroducing the offspring back into the wild is a pointless pursuit that achieves nothing. As a biologist/ecologist, I can assure you that wild harvesting live material is rarely acceptable or ethical - this can include seed collection, depending on how it is done and the conservation status of the species. To add to that, collecting seed from a limited number of individuals and then cultivating those will always lead to a loss of genetic diversity, which itself is a threat to the conservation of endangered species.

 

I would ask everyone here to resist the urge to harvest any living material or seeds from any wild plants; it can be and often is incredibly damaging and a serious threat to the persistence of these species. We see what poaching does to the megafauna in Africa - poaching from Acacia obtusifolia or Acacia phlebophylla in Australia is no different. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem. If we care about these plants, then we have to protect them.

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