Pre-inauguration reality: The death of American farming
2.Vilsack not the right choice for ag secretary
1.Pre-inauguration reality: A farmer's letter and the death of American farming
by Linn Cohen-Cole
OpEdNews, 19 January 2009
What follows is a living nightmare of one farmer in Wisconsin, a founder of the Seed Savers Exchange, a leader in trying to stop NAIS, a man trying to protect Amish by going pro se in court for them, a man who goes out to his barn in sub-zero temperatures at night for weeks, helping to deliver lambs. He is a farmer who has raised flax for years and now, suddenly, this year, because of Monsanto helping the FDA to write seed regulations, his seed cleaning equipment is defined as a source of "seed contamination" and he can't sell flax seeds.
Included under that regulation are all seed used as food, so raw seed - flax, poppy, sesame; all sprouting seeds - wheat, alfalfa, beans, greens, etc.; all seed pressed into oil - corn, soy, canola, sunflower, etc.; all seed used for animal feed. And now you have only a glimpse at how Monsanto's infiltration of our government affects control of seeds and criminalizes quite normal and clean small farming. This is only on the crop side. NAIS is more monstrous by far on the animal side. And SWAT team attacks are happening on the dairy side.
Obama picked Vilsack. Vilsack is Monsanto. Monsanto helped design NAIS which can provide it a means of wiping out animals stocks and substituting GMO animals - which it will own with patents. Monsanto is attacking hundreds of farmers in Illinois right now, Obama's state, right now. Our food supply itself is under threat and Obama has opened the door. He didn't "listen" to the grassroots but tramped on them in support of the most evil corporation on earth - the one responsible for altering nature itself, corrupting government to set that loose, and dumping pesticides throughout the earth. Obama's inauguration is no day for celebration by farmers or by anyone who eats or wishes for a real democracy or cares about a healthier world or saving forests or wants to stop global warming - because they are all immensely threatened by Monsanto.
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2.Commentary: Vilsack not the right choice for ag secretary
By Jim Goodman
The Progressive Media Project, Jan 19 2009
*The Senate should put the brakes on Tom Vilsack as secretary of agriculture.
Wednesday's confirmation hearing for Obama's nominee was a lovefest. But it shouldn't have been.
More than 60,000 supporters of organic farming have sent e-mails opposing Vilsack's nomination. With a world food crisis, food safety problems and a growing demand for local and organic food, the time was right for a real change in national food policy.
Obama could have picked someone who was knowledgeable about organic farming and local and regional food systems. Someone who knew the difference between growing food and growing commodity crops. Someone who felt more at ease mending a fence or thinning carrots than sitting in a corporate boardroom.
Instead, he chose Vilsack, the former governor of Iowa, darling of the biotech industry. In fact, in 2001, the Biotechnology Industry Organization named him governor of the year.
Vilsack happily signed the 2005 seed pre-emption law in Iowa, which prohibits local governments from regulating genetically engineered seeds.
Biogenetic farming is incompatible with organic farming. Genetically modified pollen drifts for miles and contaminates both organic and non-genetically modified conventional crops. The huge companies that dominate genetically modified farming push out small organic farmers and local food producers.
Vilsack also is the favorite of large corporations that are exploiting the demand for organics at the expense of small farmers -- corporations like Whole Foods and Stonyfield.
And he has been a champion of biofuels, one of the most wasteful uses of our farmland imaginable.
I don't doubt Tom Vilsack is a nice guy who probably did a lot for Iowa agriculture. I know he did a lot for agribusiness, the chemical companies, biotechnology and large-scale farming. Apparently, his vision of better agriculture is bigger, more intensive agriculture.
His nomination reflects poorly on Obama.
But maybe organic farmers should have seen it coming, since Obama had two Monsanto officials on his advisory team. And he specifically endorsed genetically modified crops, stating they were safe and had "provided enormous benefits to farmers."
On the other hand, Obama has praised family farmers and organics.
"The Good Food movement, the organic food movement, is a wonderful opportunity for farmers to diversify," he once said. "When they can diversify and get other crops going, we can in fact produce a healthier food. And more profits can go into the hands of family farmers as opposed to the big food processors and mega businesses. Then I think we are doing well for everybody."
If Obama's heart is really with small farms, local production and organic food, he should not have chosen an agriculture secretary so closely allied with agribusiness.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Jim Goodman is a dairy farmer from Wonewoc, Wis., and a W.K. Kellogg Food and Society Policy Fellow. He wrote this for Progressive Media Project, a source of liberal commentary on domestic and international issues; it is affiliated with The Progressive magazine.
This article was prepared for The Progressive Media Project and is available to MCT subscribers. McClatchy-Tribune did not subsidize the writing of this column; the opinions are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of McClatchy-Tribune or its editors.
© 2009, Jim Goodman