The Day Farming Cried

We, in the United States, have prided ourselves in being the food supplier for the world.  But today, we are 532868_301782103245696_780017710_ndrawing battle lines among ourselves much like ranchers and farmers did in the days of a Soddy and cattle drives.[1]  Only we aren’t talking about barbed wire and stampedes, but we are talking about individual rights and what a farmer can or cannot grow and how one can turn on the other.

The counties of Jackson and Josephine in Oregon have banned the growing of GMO crops within their boundaries.

http://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/tech/science/environment/2015/06/08/gmo-ban-takes-effect-in-oregons-jackson-county/28699667/

Frankly, I can understand how this has happened, and I thank our government for it.  Oregon is the state that brought us the first reported case of an experimental GMO wheat being released into the world environment without approval.[2]  The case was closed by the branch of the USDA with Enforcement and Investigative powers for such incidents.[3]  With many forage seed breeding and seed production companies located within Oregon, the issue of GE crops and the ability to contain their “sexual tendencies” is a serious matter.  Ask any alfalfa breeder and seed producer who is trying to grow “regular” alfalfa varieties.  Bees are the real workers of alfalfa breeding and travel up to three miles to feed.  That bee can cause problems if it goes to a GE alfalfa field to do its business.

“Anytime a new trait is put in the environment there really is no way of retracting that gene or bringing it back and saying “we changed our minds”, said Professor Carrol Mallory-Smith, of the Oregon State University.[4]  Chalk one up for common sense.

So, you may think that I support the Federal Judge upholding this GMO Ban.  Actually, it concerns me.  It is distressing because free enterprise is under attack….again.  And, to me, free enterprise is what makes any society strong today and tomorrow.

The United States Federal Court, District of Oregon, ruled against the “Right To Farm” case that the GMO farmers presented the court[5], [6].  I hope we understand the significance of this ruling.  The opportunity for a farmer to gainfully derive an income from the business of farming has been struck down.  An individual’s freedom to be a farmer using CURRENTLY accepted practices was blocked.

I will quote a few lines out of a book entitled “Dynamic Freedoms”.  This book, compiled by Robert B. Watts, is a powerful collection of various articles that were the bedrock of the United States of America and the founding principles it was built upon.  I would encourage anyone who interested in such readings to seek out and find a copy of this great collection.  In the section “Free Enterprise-An American Invention”, author Harold M. Fleming writes that in America the invention of Freedom was invented.

“The idea of individual freedom, as a general good in itself, on which this country was founded, and from which the American achievement started, was an invention.  It was as new in its day as the telephone, the gasoline engine, or the first frozen foods were in their day.”

He goes on to reference the United States Constitution, Article 1, Section 10, which the nation would be a common market where a man could be free to go about his business and explore his opportunities.  What will we do when the same “blind justice” swings in another direction and not support Right to Farm laws?  Support of Right to Farm has allowed aerial applicators in the same state of Oregon to spray pesticides without fear of being sued by the plaintiff.[7]  Now with this ruling what will happen to such prior rulings?

The honorable profession of farming is being drug into the center of a colosseum and put on display.  Maui, Hawaii, has two larger farmers.  The Monsanto and Dow Agro Sciences companies are the major farmers of the county and it is a very intense R & D area for GMO crops.  Hawaii has long been the “fill in” area for production of corn hybrids.  In Hawaii, companies can grow an extra crop of seeds to sell to farmers due to the climate being more tropical than, say Texas.  The citizens of Maui County have brought the first ever citizen-initiated bill for that county, and had over 9000 signatures, enough to put it on the ballot.  With the GMO ban up for a vote in December of 2014[8].  The SHAKA initiative, a citizen-driven initiative, is an action directed against the two farmers that have invested a reported $7,000,000 defending themselves as they pursue the development of GMO crops.  So far, the courts have upheld the farmers’ ability to continue their work[9],[10].   Pandora’s Box has been open and we now have open season on the occupation of farming.

And farming continues to be torn apart.  For over twenty years, a three letter term has polarized farming with the consumer: “GMO”.  The world of food and farming are suffering for it while those who developed this technology seem to struggle to effectively mitigate the consumer’s concerns-be they founded or otherwise.  I have seen people make all sorts of mistakes, assuming that man made fertilizer is part of GMO farmig, and other mistakes due to lack of understanding.  If I was someone looking to the United States as my supplier of food, I’d be wondering if I shouldn’t have been looking elsewhere, given the turmoil that is surfacing.  From where I stand, it looks like farming is getting ready to be sacrificed in the arena of individual rights and corporate conquests.

God help us.

[1] http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/butcher.htm

[2] http://www.aphis.usda.gov/publications/biotechnology/2014/faq_ge_wheat.pdf

[3] http://www.aphis.usda.gov/wps/portal/aphis/resources/enforcement-actions/!ut/p/a1/04_Sj9CPykssy0xPLMnMz0vMAfGjzOJNPC2MjIwNjDz9g52NDRwNQsPMvAwtDQ38TYEKIoEKnN0dPUzMfQwMDEwsjAw8XZw8XMwtfQ0MPM2I02-AAzgaENIfrh-FqsTd0NEFqCTYxy_Qw83AwNsQqgCfE8EK8LihIDc0wiDTUxEA3jnDeA!!/?1dmy&urile=wcm%3Apath%3A%2FAPHIS_Content_Library%2FSA_Our_Focus%2FSA_Business_Services%2FSA_MRPBS_Divisions%2FSA_IES%2F

[4] http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2014/09/26/351785294/gmo-wheat-investigation-closed-but-another-one-opens

[5] http://agrilife.org/texasaglaw/2015/06/01/oregon-farmers-growing-gmo-alfalfa-lose-right-to-farm-claim/

[6] http://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/ourfamilyfarmscoalition/mailings/101/attachments/original/sj_opinion.pdf?1432945777

[7] http://www.capitalpress.com/Oregon/20150114/opponents-of-oregons-right-to-farm-law-can-revive-lawsuit

[8] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/09/maui-gmo-ban-bill_n_5956306.html

[9] http://www.mauigmomoratoriumnews.org/

[10] http://www.civilbeat.com/2014/12/shaka-movement-seeks-dismissal-of-suit-against-maui-gmo-farming-ban/

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