I was raised on a farm, and I got out of there as fast as possible. It’s a lot of hard work for not much return. My grandfather made a pretty good life for himself with his farm, but then, he didn’t think he needed much. Heck, he didn’t get electricity until shortly before he died, and that came from a windmill.
My father, unable to make a living at farming, took a second job in the ’50s in order to make ends meet. He worked that job, and the farm, until he retired. It’s been said that a farmer is the only businessman who buys all his stuff retail in order to sell his product wholesale. The idea of the small family farm has long been a myth. If you don’t farm big, you don’t make it.
Enter, agribiz (agriculture businesses or corporate farming). Big corporations currently supply most of the food produced for mass consumption all around the world. Not content with that, some businesses have patented genetically engineered foods. This allows them to not only own the plants, their seeds, etc., but also their offspring. So, for example, if you buy genetically altered corn seeds from Monsanto, harvest the crop and save some of the seeds, you have to pay Monsanto again if you plant any of those saved seeds. That even applies if your neighbor plants Monsanto seeds and his/her crop blows pollen into your field. Your corn is now part Monsanto (whether you want it or not), and if you replant those seeds, you have to pay them. Obviously, there’s gold in them there hills — for agribiz, anyway.
A lot of folks, unhappy with the way unlabeled, untested, genetically modified foods are spreading, have taken to the courts. Since there aren’t any laws prohibiting agribiz from selling their products, people are attempting to get injunctions against the release of such items until proper testing has been done. But the thing about corporations is: they’re not easily thwarted. Flexing their muscles, they’ve managed to include a “get out of jail free” card in the wording of an upcoming Farm Bill.
A so-called “Monsanto rider,” quietly slipped into the multi-billion dollar FY 2013 Agricultural Appropriations bill, would require – not just allow, but require – the Secretary of Agriculture to grant a temporary permit for the planting or cultivation of a genetically engineered crop, even if a federal court has ordered the planting be halted until an Environmental Impact Statement is completed. All the farmer or the biotech producer has to do is ask, and the questionable crops could be released into the environment where they could potentially contaminate conventional or organic crops and, ultimately, the nation’s food supply.
The time to act on this is right now. This bill has already passed from the committee. It may not be long before it’s voted into law. Then what are you going to do?