EXAMPLE OF MALICIOUS INCOMPETENCE within the so-called International AID and development assistance entities. Described by way of a letter I sent to the Director-General of UN/FAO in 2018 …
The Honorable Jose Graziano da Silva, Director-General
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
00153 Rome, Italy
April 20, 2018
1) The travesty ‘known’ as Aquaponics,
2) The Palestinian aquaponics debacles,
3) FAO’s complicity in non-disclosure of a highly significant, historically influential, and potentially world-changing technology.
I write first in regard to the publication “FAO FISHERIES AND AQUACULTURE TECHNICAL PAPER 589”, by Christopher Somerville et al., 2014.
I am appalled by the gross ineptitude on display in this paper. The authors have done no investigation whatsoever as to the origins of what has since been termed as Aquaponics, of both major categories. They have not presented any context of who, when, where, why and how so-called aquaponics came to be, nor the impetus behind continuing efforts to disseminate authentic implementations. They have entirely omitted any and all mention of the most researched, documented, published and actively disseminated methodology, bar none. This is not merely inexcusable and unfathomable it is also highly disturbing (ominous).
For the record, the ‘raft’ or Deep Water Culture (DWC) aquaponic variant came initially from the investigations of Dr. Ronald Zweig, FAAAS, while at The New Alchemy Institute, beginning in 1986. Ron and I co-presented a week-long seminar on integrated aquaculture at Wood’s Hole Oceanographic Institute in May 1989.
The original DWC technique was subsequently adopted and complicated by Dr. James Rakocy at the University of the Virgin Islands as demonstrations (not research) commencing in late 1986 or early 1987, and continuing through 2010. In June of 1986, while he was beginning site construction, I offered him my data and findings to date (gratis, as a professional courtesy), which was summarily and indelicately refused, to state it mildly. The DWC method has since been serially, variously adapted through the several intervening decades and is currently most prominently being described and refined by Goddek et al., at Wageningen University in The Netherlands.
Most significantly, the authors of FAO Paper 589 have entirely disregarded the most thoroughly vetted, formally researched and peer-review published methodology now associated with/labeled as ‘aquaponics’ (from 1986 and to date). This methodology is known as the Integrated Aqua~Vegeculture System (iAVs), which was invented, developed and documented from 1985 at the North Carolina State University by a comprehensive team of highly respected investigators, coalesced and lead by myself. I attach (PDF) a list of these most competent collaborators. This blatant oversight by the FAO authors could readily be interpreted as deliberate (biased).
On July 17, 1989, we (NCSU iAVs Research Group) wrote to Dr. Khadi at FAO Irrigation Program, Rome (letter attached, PDF) informing him in detail of our methodology, findings and our intentions to seek implementations of iAVs where food and water are most lacking and demand is most urgent. Both USAID and USDA/OICD had advised us to approach and inform FAO of the iAVs technology and to solicit your organization’s advice and input. We did so yet never heard a single word in response.
Dr. Douglas C. Sanders, FASHS, and iAVs Research Group Chair, visited FAO Rome Sept 2 and 3, 1990. He reported that he felt that he was heard and the content of his presentation well received. Time elapsed without receipt of any communication, so we reached out again – and again – and again. Nothing was ever heard from anyone associated with FAO, full stop.
The iAVs method was purposefully thrust into the public domain (made open-source in 1985) and I/we thwarted several attempts by NCSU (TULCO) in the late 80’s to monetize the technology through transfer of proprietary rights to any one of several multinational agriculture conglomerates – the sale of rights and research results that I formally invented, developed and had personally funded.
This was partially accomplished through legal argument, and also by popular press releases as well as through nationwide presentations I gave to many Universities and Institutes across the US, Africa and the Middle East – with the assistance of NCSU’s Office of International Programs and USDA’s Office of International Cooperation in Development (OICD).
During one such trip, at a seminar and subsequent multi-day Workshop held at the University of Arkansas, I made the acquaintance of a certain Tom and Paula Speraneo. They were greatly inspired by what they learned from me and they immediately deployed the technique at their home – or rather, sort of almost! They added one highly significant and consequential point of failure – accompanied by the deliberate display of willful ignorance as combined with the greed of felt ‘ownership’ – an event that radically changed the course of history and the fate of aquaponics (iAVs).
They had substituted coarse gravel (due to alleged budgetary ‘rational’) for the specified sand filtration media required in iAVs. They persisted down this errant path despite my direct counsel (overt willful ignorance continued), and they then aggressively promoted ‘their’ system on the then fledgling Internet. This model is now widely known by 100’s of thousands of adherents as Flood and Drain (F&D) aquaponics, the most widely implemented ‘system’ globally by far (to date). Theirs was a massive failure (so much to explain of the how and why). It has NO where near the degree of reliability, efficacy, utility, resilience, versatility, productivity or sustainability than does iAVs as it was designed, documented to achieve and disseminated.
That ‘story’ continues to this day – perhaps to be further unwrapped, or not. For now, I’ll briefly skip ahead about 20 years …
Several decades later, I learn that FAO is promoting and sponsoring F&D gravel-media (Speraneo) ‘aquaponics’ in Gaza, Palestine. I’d like to believe that many people were significantly advantaged. Yet, I do not believe that they were. Whatever the outcomes were, regardless of their felt satisfaction (or dismay), any benefit they would have accrued resultant to their (and FAO’s) efforts would have assuredly been at least an order of magnitude (or several) greater if FAO had but listened to the inventor of record and the investigating scientists at NCSU.
Now, speaking of Palestine, I have yet another highly disturbing saga to relate. Please bear with me, as you will undoubtedly find this both fascinating and alarming.
The following ‘story’ (fact) has no direct bearing on FAO but it does include an United Nations component – as well as demonstrates how vested interests thwart humanitarian inspired sustainable development efforts on the world stage. This is but one of several rather similar sagas of which I can personally attest.
On Sept. 13, 1993, Yitzhak Rabin and Yassir Arafat concluded a peace agreement between Israel and the PLO with a handshake of The Whitehouse lawn. That same day, NCSU’s Office in international Programs (OIP) received a phone call from The Whitehouse wanting to speak with me. As it happened, I was on vacation, fishing in Yellowstone Park at the time. All that the OIP staff knew was that I was somewhere out west.
So, the NSA was directed to find me and fetch me. They tracked my most recent credit card activity to the lodge where I was staying. Omitting a few steps, the next day I was ‘spirited away’ (hi-jacked) to Little Rock, AR to present at a conference attended by The PLO Delegation to the UN, the US Dept. of State, USAID, Vice President Albert Gore’s senior staff, The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD, aka The World Bank) and about 30 member institutions of the Joint Center for NGO/PVO and University Collaboration in Development.
I gave my canned presentation from memory in the same fishing attire I had been wearing in Yellowstone. After which, enthusiasm was the mood expressed by all – especially from the Palestinians. Then. i was ‘whisked away’ – on to NYC, and DC for multiple substantive discussions on implementing iAVs at scale (“feed a million people” on 128 ha.). This was to occur at Jericho by accessing fossil groundwater ± 1000 meters below the Dead Sea. Then, it was back to NCSU where the Chancellor, Dean of CALS and Director of OIP each had dollar signs replacing the pupils of their eyes since IBRD had proffered development sums in the several billion US dollar range.
The project had the stated support of then Vice President, Al Gore and then Senate Majority Leader, George Mitchell and the assurance of funding from both IBRD and USAID.
Myself and collaborators set to work, planning, researching the location, scheduling, brainstorming … UNTIL the Israeli’s learned of the intended project. At which point ‘the gates of hell were opened’. The entire US-Israeli lobby on C-Street and all of their functionaries in the US Congress had a collective seizure followed by protracted tantrum.
It soon became apparent that there was no way that the Israelis would ever allow Palestine to access fossil water (below the Palestinian territory so recently ceded) – nor have access to any fresh water source on the West Bank – and there was no way that Israel would consider tolerating Palestine even marginally achieving any degree of self-sufficiency in food provisioning by and for for their people.
At this point, North Carolina’s Senior US Senator and Chair of Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Jesse Helms became ‘activated’ – vociferous in his extreme displeasure with what he saw as anti-Israeli policy. He made his ire known in no uncertain terms to the entire NCSU administration and faculty as well as to myself. The Clinton Administration did all they could attempting to placate Senator Helms and the others of similar persuasion, ultimately to no effect. If I/we continued to pursue this development project, head’s were going to roll from the bottom (me) all the way to the top (Chancellor). Class dismissed.
Thus ended the lesson, project and geopolitical firestorm. I relocated back to Yellowstone.
Moral of the ‘story’ (fact), do not mess with Israels self-assumed ‘right’ to enslave, steal from, deny autonomy, dignity and human rights to, and inflict suffering on people not of the preferred “chosen” lineage.
The above is a mere sample of the ongoing iAVs saga – one of vast potential yet stolen realization – and which continues to be unrealized to this day.
Returning to the subject of FAO and so-called ‘aquaponics’ …
The categorical omission of iAVs and of the widely attributed inventor/researcher of what is now termed to be ‘aquaponics’ – namely me – displays a calloused disregard for fact, history, evidence and the absence of professional competence and integrity.
What if anything would you intend to do about this egregious, if not felonious, blatant omission of any mention or consideration given to iAVs? Based on past FAO performance (in evidence). I’d bet my property, truck and both of my dog’s lives that it would be absolutely nothing.
Please prove me wrong,
Mark R. McMurtry, Ph, D.
1. NCSU, iAVs Research Group “Personnel Resources” 1984 -1994.
2, iAVs Research Group letter to Dr. Khadi, FAO Irrigation Program, Rome. July 17, 1989.
3. iAVs “More with Less”
Website iAVs “Feed People and Save Water” https://www.iavs.info/
Video “An Introduction to iAVs” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_Pn1i65E
Not so much as an acknowledgment of receipt much less a response!
Which does not include any aspect/mention of the Namibia saga (in situ USAID malfeasance)
Malfeasance noun Law.
“the performance by a public official of an act that is legally unjustified, harmful, or contrary to law; wrongdoing (used especially of an act in violation of a public trust).”