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On Biodynamics and Radiation

July 12, 2011

By Robert Karp
Executive Director, Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association


The recent tragic events in Japan and news of increasing radiation fallout around the globe have led to a growing interest in past reports from Europe (primarily) of a possible role of the biodynamic preparations in protecting farms and food from radioactivity. Understandably, this is quite a “hot” topic in biodynamic circles, evoking much debate.

I am thrilled to report that recently two members of the Biodynamic Research Working Group (BDRWG), Maria Linder and Barry Lia, have agreed to procure and evaluate all the available research and reports relating to this question and to draft a synopsis that we will make available through our journal and website. The BDRWG will also take up the question, in its next meeting, of whether a new research project in this direction is warranted and if so, how it would be best undertaken. These are small but important steps.

Personally, I think we are dealing with a very delicate matter. On the one hand, I would suggest that there is good reason, from a spiritual scientific perspective, to believe that some biodynamic food, farms, and practices may (and I say MAY) offer a measure of protection from radioactive fallout or at least offer a kind of healing antidote. As such, this is indeed an important time to encourage people to intensify their work with biodynamics. On the other hand, I agree with many members of the BDRWG who believe that we should refrain from making any claims for biodynamic products or practices until we determine if we have a genuine foundation for such claims.

Let me elaborate.

The idea that biodynamics may address radiation derives from the perspective that the biodynamic preparations and methodologies are designed, in general, to stimulate what are called in biodynamics the “etheric formative forces” or “life forces” active in nature. These are forces that stand behind and are active within all biological life — whether in soil, plants, animals, or humans — but which have their source in a realm above that of purely physical matter.

Radiation, on the other hand — again from a spiritual scientific perspective — is active at a level below that of purely physical matter, and as such, could be called a “sub-natural force.” Speaking quite generally, sub-natural forces such as radiation and electricity have a destructive effect on matter. The etheric formative forces, on the other hand, which are stimulated through the biodynamic preparations and methods in general, have an up-building or life-giving effect on matter.

Rudolf Steiner pointed out that, as civilization makes greater and greater use of the sub-natural forces in our technologies, a counterbalance must be struck if human beings and the earth are not to perish. One way this counterbalance can be found is by developing technologies that work with the “etheric formative forces” rather than with the sub-natural forces. This is one of the main reasons why Rudolf Steiner brought biodynamics to the world at the time he did. Again, just as radiation releases an abundance of “death forces,” so are the biodynamic preparations and practices designed to stimulate and quicken an abundance of “life forces.”

Thus, from this point of view, it stands to reason that farms and gardens managed biodynamically MAY under the best of circumstances be better able to assimilate and transmute the effects of radiation, and that food from such farms MAY be able to help us do the same. From this perspective — all research and reports aside — the increased use of biodynamic methods in the wake of the nuclear meltdowns in Japan is indeed something to be encouraged.

On the other hand, if the above spiritual scientific insights are correct, it should be possible to demonstrate these effects, in some measure, through appropriate methods of traditional scientific research. Therefore, I think that making claims along these lines, without the necessary research and evidence to back us up, could easily lead to misunderstandings and weaken the credibility of the biodynamic movement.

I realize that there is a delicate balance to be struck here between a sense of urgency and a sense of sobriety, which we each must navigate out of our own sense of integrity. Hopefully, the work of the BDRWG and others across the world can, in the coming months and years, place all this work on a new and more solid footing.

I’m sure these thoughts won’t quell the debate. Part of the purpose of this blog is to open up a constructive conversation on the matter where different points of view can be heard. If you have thoughts you would like to share or a guest essay, or information on the topic you think would be relevant to the BDRWG, please get in touch with us.

Contact Robert Karp at robert.karp@biodynamics.com. Visit www.biodynamics.com/biodynamic-research for more information the BDRWG.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Gunther Hauk permalink
    July 28, 2011 8:48 am

    Dear Robert,
    I am very happy about this careful and honest reaction. I would suggest that you contact Fritz (Friedrich) Sattler in Heidenheim, Germany. He is probably the most experienced person in this question. After Chernobyl he did a lot of work (with Geiger counter, with spraying) on this issue and could probably give you the results he found. His phone number is 07321-43626 (he does speak some English). The BD association in Germany probably has an email address.
    Warm greetings,
    Gunther

  2. yjcoffice permalink
    July 28, 2011 9:01 am

    I believe there is some evidence of organic soils (not necessarily biodynamic) mitigating radiation within the danger zone of Chernobyl (http://www.epa.jov/radiation, and Brady, Nyle C. and Ray R. Weil, The Nature and Property of Soils, 18.11 Radionuclides in Soil, pp. 831-836).

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