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General News    H3'ed 1/14/09

Monsanto and industrial agriculture's darkening shadow over our food

Message Linn Cohen-Cole

The following excerpt of a wonderful article by Gene Logsdon must be put in the context of the USDA current and aggressive efforts to drive Amish farmers out of business.  In Wisconsin, Emmanuel Miller, an Amish farmer is being sued by the state agriculture department there for refusing to register his property, for religious reasons, under Premises ID, part of NAIS.  Meanwhile the state will not answer profound concerns about NAIS and what it is really about:  www.opednews.com/articles/NAIS-bogus-Avian-Flu-epid-by-Linn-Cohen-Cole-090113-29.html  and  www.opednews.com/articles/The-SCAM-behind-NAIS--Ou-by-Derry-Brownfield-081130-795.html ).  
The Amish face demands to wire their barns though they don't use electricity, the Mennonite www.counterpunch.org/cohen04262008.html  and Amish are being raided in Pennsylvania by the Department of Agriculture for selling raw milk though now even urban customers seek out the wholesome product they have sold safely in their communities for hundreds of years.  www.opednews.com/articles/Raw-Milk-Dairying-A-Contin-by-Kimberly-Hartke-090112-790.html  And I heard (unconfirmed as yet) from a farmer in Wisconsin that this year, it will be illegal to purchase animals from farms (during a time when people are losing jobs and food distribution may be threatened).  
Add to all that the criminalization of farmer's normal seed cleaning equipment now deemed a source of seed contamination by the FDA, influenced by Monsanto. www.opednews.com/articles/Raids-on-Seeds-life-itsel-by-Linn-Cohen-Cole-081215-45.html  So, Amish farmers - or any of our farmers - cannot sell seeds considered food in themselves - raw seeds like flax, poppy, sesame, etc.;  sprouting seeds like wheat, alfalfa, broccoli, amaranth, all kinds of greens and beans, etc.;  seeds pressed into oil like corn, soy, canola, sunflower, etc.  Oh, they "can" use seed cleaning equipment but only if it is the industrial equipment approved by the FDA and financially far out of reach for farmers.

Did the Amish get it right after all?
by Gene Logsdon
Image Credit: © Marianne Venegoni | OrganicToBe.org Gene's Posts

"There is an interesting development in mainstream U.S.A that just might have significant relevance for garden farming. Record numbers of people are acquiring pets. The dog and cat business is not at all depressed by the recession. (If you are wondering what all this has to do with the Amish, bear with me.) You see evidence of the trend everywhere, especially in advertisements where dogs are shown licking the cheeks of children— this in a society that has an almost manic dread of germs. Pets are the in-thing. Apparently our society is so enmeshed in its mechanical and electronic gadgetry that the human psyche is seeking solace in real life, as in the ancient loving connection that we have always enjoyed with animals.

The modern pet craze is not limited to cats and dogs but embraces many animals, especially horses. (Now you see how the Amish are going to get into this discussion.) Statistics say there are 6.9 million horses in the U.S. involved in various activities from racing, showing, pleasure riding, polo, police work, farming and ranching. The horse business or hobby adds about $112 billion to the GNP. Horses generate more money than the home furniture and fixtures business, and almost as much as the apparel and textile manufacturing industry. In other words, while we generally think of Old Dobbin as a step backward in time in agriculture, horses are very much a part of our modern economic and social lives today.

Why this is pertinent to garden farming becomes apparent from what happened a few months ago. At the time when the national banking fraternity was on its knees in Washington, begging for money, news all over the media reported that Hometown Heritage bank in Lancaster County, Pa., was having its best year ever. Hometown Heritage may be the only bank in the world, surely one of the few, that has drive-by window service designed to accommodate horses and buggies. Some 95% of the bank's customers are Amish farmers. The banker, Bill O'Brien, says that he has not lost a penny on them in 20 years. They obviously don't have auto loans to pay off and do not use credit cards. They might not need bank loans at all except to buy farmland, which especially in Lancaster County, has risen almost insanely in price. O'Brien says he is doing about a hundred million dollars worth of business in farm loans. To further make the point, an obscure law does not allow banks to bundle and sell mortgages on farms and homes that are not serviced by public electric utilities."




Mr. Logsdon makes a beautiful case for a way of life that works better than industrial agriculture by far and which skirts entirely the economic collapse of a world trapped on a corporate grid of food, banking, power, mortgages, etc.  But the reality is that rational argument and even a beautiful way of life are actually threats to those who intend to take ABSOLUTE control over food here.  Only by deeply corrupting the government and Orwellian-ing the system - declaring clean farmers' food unsafe, defining their never-been-a-problem-before equipment as sources of contamination, setting up massive corporate spying systems on farmers for which farmers have to foot the bill (NAIS), and putting in police state regulations to allow for warrantless attacks and seizure and destruction of what they own, can industrial agriculture prevail.  
Only by buying our politicians.
A major UN study has proven that organic farming can feed Africa and offers significant safety advantages over industrial farming.  And it is democratic, free from the monopoly that genetic engineering is designed to achieve.  What more does one need?
In this country, Mr. Logsdon is joined in his love of real farming and his knowledge of the value of the food it produces, by a public hungry for health through real food.  But this all misses that multinational corporations such as Monsanto and Cargill and Dow and Syngenta and others have taken control of our government - in the FDA where food from farmers is now being defined as dangerous but not food from industrial agriculture, the source of major diseases, contamination, and tortured animals bloated with steroids and injected with hormones to make them produce more and filled with antibiotics to cover the diseases they get under the terrible conditions there,
And there are new regulations to set economic bars to farming too high for farmers to cross; in the USDA where they are running raids against small farmers across the country (particularly the Amish and Mennonite who represent the capacity of organic farming to produce well and entirely outside of corporate control) through state ag departments and where (in deference to Monsanto?) they have stopped tracking pesticide use; the energy department where the Genome project on behalf of the pharmaceutical industry and biotech sits - close to big oil for synthetic drugs; Homeland Security where regulations have been written which set up small farmers to have their little local production militarily seized and destroyed to protect us from bioterrorists who would be dimwits to bother with such people since it is only the highly centralized industrial food system that poses real danger.  
Decentralized small farmers are our protection in case of any terrorist attack set against a backdrop of increasing questions about terrorism itself. 
This nightmare for our farmers (and thus for us) is being written by and run by and on behalf of massive plans of agribusiness and biotech to take over all food.Bremer's Order #81 in Iraq took over their seed banks and delivered them to Monsanto and others, while criminalizing farmers collecting their own seed, forcing  the elimination of all biodiversity there, and reducing a country in dire trouble already, to be dependent on multinationals like Monsanto for food.  That is the most profound colonialism. 
This colonial theft by US corporations has gone on in other parts of the world for a long time, destroying people there and providing us with cheap goods and our rich lifestyle.  What we are missing, though, is that those companies are now colonizing us.  Crops and animals (and all access to natural health substances) are being taken over.
Free access to food and health as we choose for ourselves are being put out of reach, just as our economy is falling apart and people will be desperate and need to fend for themselves (but farmers will not be able to sell them animals or seeds and they will not be able to buy meats, milk, butter, cheeses from local farmers, and they will not be able to own an animal without becoming part of a massive, expensive, impossible to comply with spy system, NAIS, that comes with penalties for a single infraction that would destroy anyone's life.  
What is happening to farmers is only happening to them first.  It is happening to you.  
A trap is shutting.
Kissinger's famous comment - "By controlling energy, we can control nations; by controlling food, we can control individuals" was, if people look more closely, in the context of food used for genocide.
The sustainable agriculture folks have ever reason behind them in knowing that organic farming is not only the right direction to go (as the clip from the article below shows) but the only way to go.  And yet, our government is run by corporations which are determined to destroy all possibility of it.In this context, Hillary Clinton's closeness to Monsanto, along with Michael Taylor (the Monsanto lawyer Bill Clinton put in charge of the FDA and the USDA who introduced rBGH, the first GE-product ever approved) suddenly showing up again, now on Obama's transition team, and Obama's selection of Vilsack, a Monsanto crony, to head the USDA, a man strongly pushing genetic engineering, anti-democratic laws, and NAIS, are chilling.
It is time for liberal America to define this for what it is - the largest civil rights movement in human history (including everyone of us) and not for housing or education or jobs but for the right to survive.  This civil rights movement is for the most essential freedoms there are -  freedom to farm, freedom to choose food from the farmers we want, freedom to sell or share food with others, freedom to collect, own and share seeds.  These survival freedoms are mirrored on the health side in freedom of access to natural health substances and to healers we choose.
Get hold of the ACLU 
Ask them for immediate help in every state in the country for civil and human rights abuses occurring through farming, including the seed laws that Vilsack has pushed on behalf of Monsanto,  www.environmentalcommons.org/image/seed-preemption-map.jpg  the regulations the FDA has put in place that are criminalizing all parts of farming and allowing for warrantless attacks, the USDA raids against farmers.  Ask them why only conservative groups are defending our farmers's constitutional rights.  

Call Amnesty and ask for them for immediate help here in suing over the civil and human rights abuses occurring here in farming .  Ask them why they talk of closing Guatanamo but have never mentioned removing the Iraqi seed laws that have put an entire country's survival under the control of our government and Monsanto.
Contact Amnesty International USA
Amnesty International USA
5 Penn Plaza
New York, NY 10001
phone: (212) 807-8400
fax: (212) 627-1451
Online Support: Get answers to your questions
email: aimember@aiusa.org 
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The Mid-Atlantic Office covers the following states:

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Contact MoveOn and all political action groups you are part of and have then tune into the Vilsack hearings with a better understanding of what they are really about. If you have legal skills and can donate time, you are badly needed.  
If you have legal skills and can donate time, you are badly needed.  Get in touch with:R-CALF, http://www.r-calfusa.com/  
the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund, http://www.ftcldf.org/ Family Farm Defenders, http://www.familyfarmdefenders.org/Main/HomePage  the Buckeye Institute, http://www.buckeyeinstitute.org/
and donate time to help these legal teams stave off disaster this year.  These are people with thumbs in the dyke for all of us.  Show up and bring as many people with you as you can.

If you have no legal skills, get together with friends and neighbors and have fun fund raisers (ball games, film festivals, concerts, ... whatever) and send funds to there legal groups.  And keep at it.

What is happening to our food supply through regulations is set to become full-blown totalitarian with NAIS and seed regulations moving into place this year and increasing raids on small farmers selling locally - while the economy crashes.  We were looking elsewhere, but we should be able to see now that Obama is opening the door wider to it.

The left has been missing in action.  Let's show our farmers we are here for them and how powerful we can be when we organize.  Realize that our disappearing farmers are the losing front edge of a civil and human rights battle for us all.  People need to be present in large numbers for rural court cases and for cases Monsanto usually arranges to have in St. Louis where it is based and has great influence.  It is time to stand up with our farmers as we did with blacks in the South.  And the protests around food regulations need to rival the size of those against the Iraq war, because what we have to stop is that serious.  

Watch the Vilsack hearings with a new sense of the danger to democracy and our survival he represents.

(Join FarmOn at farmon@googlegroups.com   It is a list meant to grow large enough to help with funding these battles.  Explain how you heard about it and why this matters to you and leave your email.  But FarmOn is not a substitute for the on the ground contributions you each can make to this, through calls to organizations to get them involved, through donating legal skills immediately, through immediate fund raising.)
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Met libertarian and conservative farmers and learned an incredible amount about farming and nature and science, as well as about government violations against them and against us all. The other side of the fence is nothing like what we've been (more...)
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