I'm sure robots are very nice, but I don't want them picking my fruit | Nell Frizzell

4. červenece 2022 11:15

Příroda

The more we automate our farms, the less we understand about our food. Let's not get too hands-offAfter one of my regular 4.30am starts last week, I caught a snippet of a feature on Farming Today about fruit-picking robots. Hearing about the multi-billion-pound mechanical arms and 3D sensors of this new machine, I was filled with something like sadness. Not just because of what this says about our self-inflicted workforce shortage (sigh) due to political foot-shooting and the undervaluing of manual work. But because fruit picking could be so different.I once spent an interesting few nights in New Zealand, sharing a motel with about 50 apple-pickers from Vanuatu, Samoa and beyond. We listened to reggae, washed our pants in the sink and smoked cigarettes as they told me about thinning out baby apples, and picking pineapples and peaches. It was a hard life, absolutely no doubt. A dawn start in a cramped rented room, sleeping under polyester floral eiderdowns with nothing but a kettle and a juddering shower, before being driven to different farms is not easy work. And, of course, these setups are rife with corruption and exploitation and modern slavery. But are robots our only alternative?Nell Frizzell is the author of The Panic Years and Square One (published 7 July) Continue reading...
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