I don’t typically post about this kind of stuff because frankly, it brings out the trolls every time you even whisper the word Monsanto but….
Lately, there have been a lot of things in the news or that I have heard regarding agriculture that have me a little fired up. Today, I’m going to address one of those issues.
During this past month, 2 counties in Oregon passed legislation, banning farmers from planting GMO’s in their counties.
First, I want to give you a little background on the 2 counties, what sparked the ban and the voter turn-out.
Josephine and Jackson County essentially bump right up to each other at the California/Oregon border. You can see them in the lower left corner of the photo below.
Jackson County boasts around 200,000 residents. They state right on their website that agriculture is one of their principal industries. It even says “Industries that show steady growth in Jackson County include wine, film, and farming—pointing to how Jackson County is distinguished as a place where entrepreneurship thrives.” I have yet to determine how passing a GMO ban allows farming or entrepreneurship to thrive. Josephine County, was a little harder to dig up information on from their website. However, according to the U.S. Census, the population hovers around 83,000. I couldn’t find any specific data on the number of farms or industry there.
The reason this all sparked interest and regulations, is all because of sugar beets. Sugar beets are one of 8 genetically modified crops grown in the U.S. for commercial use. You hear many people, not necessarily farmers, talking cross-pollination. This was what was worried with sugar beets. However, the only crop where there is a very slim chance of a pollination issue is corn. Many crops are harvested before they even get to a pollination stage. Sugar beet fields were grown and wanted to be grown in these fields.
To give you an idea, only 52% of the total registered voters came out that night. So half really, half came out to vote. And of that, only 33% of the total of registered voters voted yes for the ban. 33% made a decision affecting the majority. If this isn’t a sign that we all need to be more active in politics and get out and vote, I’m not sure what is.
Now that we’ve established that. Let’s talk about the real issue. Banning genetically engineered plants. Let’s give you an idea of what genetic engineering is. “Genetic engineering is the process of manually adding new DNA to an organism. The goal is to add one or more new traits that are not already found in that organism. Examples of genetically engineered (transgenic) organisms currently on the market include plants with resistance to some insects, plants that can tolerate herbicides, and crops with modified oil content.” –University of Nebraska, Ag BioSafety Visit the link to their page for a great and simple explanation that I think everyone can understand.
But really, the fact of it being a GE crop isn’t the issue.
The issue is taking away the rights of all farmers (organic and conventional) by limiting what they can or can’t produce on their own property. The freedom to farm and to make individual farm choices based on sound practice, science and individual preferences. What works for one farm does not work for the other. Every farm business is different. Every farmer’s goal is different. Now, we have had a minority essentially, who if they wanted to, can purchase organic food already, make a decision for the majority saying that the can’t farm that way, when essentially, they have no idea what that farm or farmer does.
Now, I am not against organics. I am against false information. I am against taking away basic freedoms and property rights. I am against the idea that laws should be made based on “what ifs” without any thought to those affected.
I am for the right for every farmer to choose how they want to farm by making decisions for their own property.
The arguments of Monsanto suing those for cross contamination are mute. They haven’t. Ever. They have sued people for harvesting seed, washing that seed, saving that seed and then reselling it the next year AFTER they signed a contract saying they wouldn’t. If you don’t want to plant their crop and follow their contract rules, don’t purchase it and don’t sign the contract. Simple.
How is it that it has worked for countless other organic farmers when they follow the rules already in place? I have friends that are organic farmers and they seem to be doing just great. They follow the rules, complete the proper documentation, and they never have an issue. Farmers have the right to farm organic and they can do just that without having to ban GE seeds.
Shouldn’t all farmers have the choice to farm how they want? A farm is a business. Don’t you think the farmer should have the right to produce the kind of product they want as part of that business? I shouldn’t have to produce orange t-shirts just because someone made a ruling I can’t produce pink ones because they had a fear of the color pink.
If you need any more convincing that organics and GE can work together and actually enhance each other, take the time to read Tomorrow’s Table by Pamela Ronald, a professor of plant pathology at University of California, Davis. You will be pleasantly surprised I hope.
Now, I’m going to end this with words from a post that Shellie made on The Farmer’s Wifee Facebook page because it has stuck with me, and I hope it will stick with you too.
“I have a hard time understanding part of the controversy over GMOs. I understand that genetically modifying things can become bad, but if it helps feed more people with less land, less water, better tolerances against insects and diseases, etc., why are people so up in arms about it? (Please no bashing me, it is an honest question.)
If the government starts shutting down farms because of this, there will be less places that our food is grown. Which in turn will give us less food and higher prices and more hungry people. Where do people think our food comes from, grocery stores?
Sure foods were not genetically modified years ago, but if they were, could a genetically modified grain survive the drought and subsequent dust bowl of the 30s? Who knows. I do know that there are several different types of rice that are being genetically modified to withstand monsoon flooding and other types of pestilences. Which in turn will help to feel the millions of people in India and other countries that have their rice crop decimated by monsoon flooding.
Sometimes I think that the American public are like sheep. They just follow those with the loudest voices. And right now, the Non-GMOers are screaming. And the American farmers that are doing their best to produce excellent quality food, milk, and meat for American consumers are barely whispering”
All in all, this wasn’t a win against Monsanto (or the plenty of other companies dealing with seed genetics including all of the universities) nor was it a win for farmers. It was a complete vote against every farmer and their ability to make choices for their own farm business as well as a violation of freedom and property rights.