Portrait of the Artist: Chef Sotohiro KosugiJanuary 24, 2012
Book Review: In the Garden of BeastsFebruary 14, 2012
Nobody likes a bully—be it a teenager who’s regularly beating up on a fellow student or a multinational giant whose behavior jeopardizes the well-being of small businesses and the freedom of all consumers. If you are someone who believes in democracy and the right of American citizens to make decisions for ourselves when it comes to the food we eat and the way our farmers farm, then you need to read this excellent New York Times article, “Modified Crops Tap a Wellspring of Protest” and get angry. Actually, just read the article—the anger will arrive on its own.
The story does a great job of detailing the battle that farmers are waging to prevent DNA from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) from contaminating their farms. It is beyond appalling that a farmer could be sued by a corporate bully like Monsanto simply because the wind has carried GMOs from company land to a small farmer’s field. Though the farmers in this piece have not yet been sued for “stealing” from the company, if you watch the documentary Food, Inc., you’ll see that some of their Canadian peers HAVE lost their land and livelihoods because courts have decided that GMO contamination amounts to theft.
Even more appalling is the fact that some of these small farmers are trying to farm organically. USDA organic certification rules prohibit the use of GMOs, so farmers who have spent a great deal of time, money, and trouble to comply with organic standards could have their efforts nullified by the next strong wind. It’s an Orwellian kind of hell to get sued for stealing something that you’re actively trying to keep away.
If it were simply a matter of each person or company farming their land as they pleased, then Monsanto and others should have every right to plant what they want, whether you and I like it or not, but what about the rights of those small farmers whose fields are contaminated against their will? And what about consumers who pay more for organic products precisely because they do not include GMOs? Don’t we have a right to know what we’re buying? Why are these corporations so opposed to GMO labeling? If they have nothing to hide, then why won’t they let us decide for ourselves? I am simply asking the question—you can draw the obvious conclusion on your own.
Silly me, I believed that our legal system was supposed to protect our individual rights from being infringed upon by others. In this country, we’re supposed to have the freedom to do what we want as long as we don’t harm anybody else in the process. But once someone else’s actions—be they criminal and predatory or simply negligent—start to inflict damage upon me, where do their rights end and mine begin?
To learn more about this issue and get involved, watch Food, Inc. and check out the following Web resources:
- The Center for Food Safety & its affiliated True Food Network
- Food Democracy Now
- Union of Concerned Scientists