NFFC and 327 groups from around the nation wrote a letter to both the House and the Senate opposing the Deny Americans the Right-to-Know (DARK) Act. This legislation would deny states the right to require labeling of genetically modified food, would prevent the FDA from mandating GMO labeling in the future and would allow foods containing genetically engineered ingredients to be labeled “natural.” The Senate letter is listed below and you can find the House letter here.
May 13, 2015
On behalf of the 328 undersigned farm, food, health, public interest and environmental organizations and businesses, we respectfully request that you do not support HR 1599, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act sponsored by Representative Pompeo (R-KS), if a Senate version of this bill is introduced. By making voluntary labeling for genetically engineered (GMO) foods the national standard, this bill would enshrine in federal law a failed policy that has kept consumers in the dark about what they are eating for two decades. The bill would also allow GMOs to be misleadingly labeled as “natural.” But most importantly, this bill would strip away consumers’ right to know by preempting state efforts to require labeling of GMO foods.
HR 1599 rests on the false tenet that there is a broad scientific consensus that GMO foods are safe.i The undersigned organizations contend that this is not the case since the approval process relies on studies conducted by the companies seeking to sell new GMO crops, rather than on any independent review. Simply making the current voluntary review system mandatory, as HR 1599 would, does nothing to address the inadequacy of the pre-market review system.
The bill relies on a system of voluntary labeling, despite the fact that for over a decade the FDA has allowed companies to voluntarily label GMO foods and none have chosen to do so.
Americans want mandatory labeling of GMO foods. A 2013 New York Times poll found that 93 percent of respondents were in favor of a mandatory label for genetically engineered food.ii Since the Food and Drug Administration has failed to respond to the more than a million Americans who have asked the agency to label GMOs, the momentum on this issue has shifted to the states. Since 2013, over 25 states have introduced legislation to label GMO foods, and these bills have passed in Connecticut, Maine and Vermont.iii
Mandatory labeling of GMOs is not a novel idea. Australia, Brazil, China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Russia and Saudi Arabia are among at least 60 countries that require some labeling on GMO foods.iv Nor is mandatory labeling an expensive proposition for the United States. A study commissioned by Consumers Union reviewed research on mandatory GMO labeling and estimated that the median cost of labeling per person per year is $2.30,v less than a penny a day.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) is responsible for this bill as well as other efforts to remove transparency from food labels. This trade organization represents the world’s biggest food and beverage companies as well as agribusinesses like Monsanto, Dow AgroSciences and Syngenta.vi In 2013 alone, the GMA spent $14.3 million lobbying against country-of-origin labeling, GMO labeling, any regulation of food marketing to children and other regulations affecting the food and beverage industry.vii The GMA and its member companies have poured over $80 million into political action committees to help block GMO labeling ballot initiatives in California, Washington, Oregon and Colorado over the past three years.viii The passage of HR 1599 would ensure that the GMA and its member companies continue to profit by denying consumers basic information about how the food they feed their families is produced.
This bill unfairly jeopardizes the existing rights of states and would undermine the efforts of the thousands of people working to create basic transparency in food labels in their states. We urge you to deny support for HR 1599, a bill that would quash the democratic process and keep constituents in the dark about how their food was produced.
Instead, we urge you to support SB 511, introduced by Senator Boxer (D-CA), which would balance the needs of companies for a single labeling standard with the overwhelming demand by consumers for the mandatory labeling of GMOs in food.
If you have any questions or need more information on this issue, please contact Patty Lovera at Food & Water Watch at (202) 683-2465.
Alliance for Natural Health USA
American Anti-Vivisection Society
CATA (The Farmworker Support Committee) Center for Food Safety
Citizens for GMO Labeling
Consumer Federation of America
Earth Open Source
Environmental Working Group Experimental Farm Network
Fair World Project
Family Farm Defenders
Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance
Food & Water Watch
Food Chain Workers Alliance
Food Democracy Now!
Friends of the Earth U.S.
GMO Free USA
Moms Across America
MoveOn.org Civic Action
National Family Farm Coalition
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Natural Grocers
Nature’s Path Foods Inc.
Northeast Organic Farming Association – Interstate Council
Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group
Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance Mangrove Action Project
Organic Consumers Association
Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association Pesticide Action Network North America Presence Marketing
Rural Advancement Foundation International Slow Food USA
Socially Responsible Agricultural Project Western Organization of Resource Councils Women, Food and Agriculture Network
AZ Extreme Clean, LLC GMO Free Arizona
Awake at Work
Be The Change
Bodywise Pilates Studio
CA Proposition 37
Daily Digital Imaging
Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps Earth Source Organics Ecobutterfly Organics Ecological Farming Association Farms Not Arms
Four Seasons Ag Consulting Frey Vineyards, Ltd.
Friends of Atascadero Wetlands Good Earth
Label GMOs Sonoma County
Labelgmos.org- California’s Grassroots Lundberg Family Farms
Moms Across America of the CA State Grange MOMS Advocating Sustainability
New Earth Resources
Sacramento Community Grange
Slow Food California
Slow Food Santa Cruz
Stephanie Webb Consulting
The Healing Spiral
Windheim EMF Solutions
Be The Change – USA
Colorado Springs Public Market Earth and Sky Architecture Earthly Ideas LLLC
Eco-Justice Ministries Eco-Officiency
Ela Family Farms MM Local
Mo’ Betta Green MarketPlace MyTherapyCompany, LLC Right to Know Colorado
Rocky Mountain Farmers Union The Kitchen Cafe, LLC
The North Fork LLC
Thistle Whistle Farm
Valley Organic Growers Association (VOGA) Western Colorado Congress
Zeal – food for enthusiasts
Activate CT ConnFACT GMO Free CT
Farmworker Association of Florida Farmworker Association of Florida Farmworker Self-Help
GMO FREE FLORIDA Pink Horizons Skin Care
Green Chicago Restaurant Coalition Illinois Right to Know GMO Illinois Stewardship Alliance
Seven Sisters Farm
Bloom and Bark Farm, LLC
DesMoines County Farmers and Neighbors for Optimal Health
Dubuque Food Coop
Family Farm & Crop Advisory Business FarmTable Delivery
H. H. Beck Century Farm
Institute for Responsible Technology
Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement Iowa Farmers Union
Iowa Organic Association
Iowa right to know
New Family Farm
New Pioneer Food Co-op
Pin Oak Place
Steamy Wonder Spa Company
The Organic & Non-GMO Report
Tim Blair MD, PLLC
Ulgan’s Fields, LLLP
Rainbow Blossom Natural Food Markets Slow Food Bluegrass
Food for Maine’s Future Local Food Rules
One Fish Foundation
Bear Haven Farm
Delish Dish GMOfreeMARYLAND
Zosimos Botanicals LLC
AIMA of Nashua, PLLC Applied Solar Technologies Breakwind Farm
Gap Mountain Goats HomeFree, LLC
Hungry Bear Farm
Las Olas Taqueria Monadnock Food Co-op New Earth Organic Farm NH Live GMO Free or Die NH Right To Know GMO Nourishing Wellness stonegate farm and flowers Templeton Family Organics The Counseling Studio
The Wellness Corner
Wise Way Wellness Center
A Healthier You
Advocates for Justice
Animal Rights Activists of New Jersey Barbara Wilson Registered Dietitian LLC Berkeley Heights Environmental Commission Burlington County Young Democrats
Bus For Progress
Center for Environmental Transformation Central Jersey Coalition Against Endless War Citizens For A Clean Pompton Lakes
Coastal Monmouth Democratic Club Community Green
Deans Natural Food Markets
DO Health & Wellness
Eat Well, Live Well
Espressit Coffee Shop
Franciscan Response to Fracking
GMO Free NJ
Green Party of Monmouth County
Mountain Lakes Organic Co-op
Chicopee Center Chiropractic
MA Right to Know GMOs
Natural Awakenings Boston
New Life Design
Northeast Organic Farming Association of Mass., Inc.
The Green Dad
Michigan Land Trustees
GCC Organics NoGMO4Michigan
Nourishing Ways of West MI West Michigan Paleo/Primal Tribe
CONTEMPL8 T-SHIRTS LLC
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy Purple Prairie
Right to Know Minnesota
Fair Trade Green
Rainbow Natural Grocery Cooperative
Hermans Eco Inc.
Organic Seed Alliance Sustainable Living Systems
Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society
GMO Free Nevada
GMO Free Nevada, Las Vegas Chapter Grassroots Action Network Housekeeping Secrets
Label GMO Nevada
NJ State Industrial Union Council
Northern NJ Chaper of National Organization for Women
Northjersey Pipeline Walkers
Nourishing Ways Nutrition and Learning Center, LLC.
Nutrition Prescription LLC
On The Go Cafe’ LLC
Our yards farm
Planting Seeds of HOPE
Ramsey Farmers Market
Raritan Headwaters Association
SKC Group LLC
Skylands Group, NJ Sierra Club
Slow Food Northern NJ
South Jersey Fair Trade Alliance
South Jersey Organic Garden Club
St. Mary’s Advocates for Justice
St. Mary’s Franciscan Parish, Pompton Lakes Stonybrook Meadows
T and F drugs
The Great Full Garden
Transition Newton & Northwest NJ Weehawken Food Co-op
Whole Earth Center
Wilk Benefits Consulting, LLC
Camino de Paz School & Farm GMO-Free New Mexico
La Montanita Coop
Mixing Bowl Kitchen ProgressNow New Mexico
Brooklyn Bridge CSA
Church Women United in New York State GMO Free NY
Green Education and Legal Fund
Label It WNY
Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy
New York Design Studio
Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York
NYPIRG (New York Public Interest Research Group)
St. Mary’s Urban Farm
Swing Hair Salon
Western New York Peace Center
Whole Green And Healthy Integrative Wellness
Carolina Farm Stewardship Association GMO-Free Rockingham County, NC Green Bean Counters, LLC
The Change Creation, Inc.
Toxic Free NC
Dakota Resource Council
All Things Food
City Rising Farm
Green Environmental Coalition
Label the Truth Ohio
Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association Ohio Environmental Council
Ohio Farmers Union
Women Speak Out for Peace and Justice
Alliance for Democracy – Oregon Beyond Toxics
Casa Verde CSA
Center for Biological Diversity Friends of Family Farmers Garuda Intl. LLC
Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides Oregonians for Safe Farms and Families
Our Family Farms Coalition
Phillips Family Farm
Roots Realty Sympatico Clothing The Oregon Bus Project
Berks Gas Truth Freshlife
GMO Free PA
Safe Water Society Small Valley Milling
Dakota Rural Action
Tennessee Chapter Sierra Club
Green Gate Farms
HOPE Farmers Market
Laughing Frog Farm
League of Independent Voters of Texas Sustainable Food Center
Sustainable Sources LLC
Cedar Circle Farm and Education Center Family Cow Farmstand
Filthy Farmgirl Soap Co.
Flywheel Farm LLC
Haven Hill Jerseys
Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT)
The Farm of Milk and Honey
Vermont Public Interest Research Group Vermont Right to Know GMOs
All Pets Go To Heaven Big Dipper Wax Works Central Co-op GMO-Free San Juans Heavenly Spa
Natural Health Clinic of Olympia Tilth Producers of Washington
Hammer enterprise People’s Food Co-Op
i “No scientific consensus on GMO safety.” Environmental Sciences Europe. January 24, 2015. http://www.enveurope.com/content/27/1/4/abstract.
ii Kopicki, Allison. “Strong Support for Labeling Modified Foods.” New York Times. July 27, 2013.
iii Senauer, Benjamin. University of Minnesota, Food Policy Research Center. “Considering the Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered (GE) Foods in the U.S.” Issue Brief. August 2013 at 1; Durkin, Alanna. “Maine advances genetically modified food labels.” Businessweek. June 12, 2013; National Cotton Council. “Connecticut approves labeling GE foods.” June 10, 2013; Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin. “Gov. Peter Shumlin Signs First-in-the-Nation Genetically Engineered Foods Labeling Law.” [Press Release] May 8, 2014. http://governor.vermont.gov/newsroom-gmo-bill-signing-release.
iv U.S. Trade Representative. “2011 Report on Technical Barriers to Trade.” 2011 at 49; Center for Food Safety. “Genetically Engineered Food Labeling Laws.” Accessed September 5, 2013. http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/ge-map/.
v Dyke, Andrew and Robert Whelan. “GE Foods Labeling Cost Study Findings.” ECONorthwest Report prepared for Consumers Union. September 12, 2014.
vi GMA. Member Directory. July 2013
vii Food & Water Watch analysis of GMA Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995, Lobbying Reports from 2013. Available at Center for Responsive Politics. www.opensecrets.org. Includes GMA’s own filings and hired lobbying firm filings.
viii Food & Water Watch analysis of campaign data from Behrsin, Pamela. “Data Release: Failed CA Prop. 37 (GMO Labeling) – Funding Profile.” Maplight.org. March 9, 2013; Washington State Public Disclosure Commission. Campaign Finance Database. Accessed January 2014; Colorado Secretary of State TRACER Database. No on 105 Political Action Committee Contributions. Accessed January 2015; Oregon Secretary of State. Campaign Finance- No on 92 Political Action Committee Contributions. Accessed January 2015.
May 13, 2015
Washington, DC — Today, 328 farm, food, health, public interest and environmental organizations and businesses wrote to members of Congress to urge them to protect consumers’ right to know what they are eating and require mandatory labeling of genetically engineered (GMO) foods.
The letter urged members of Congress not to support H.R. 1599, a bill introduced by Rep. Pompeo (R-KS) that would block states from requiring labeling of foods containing GMOs, and instead support bills introduced by Rep. DeFazio (D-OR) and Sen. Boxer (D-CA) that would create a federal standard for GMO labeling.
Rep. Pompeo’s bill, referred to by labeling supporters as the Denying Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act, would make voluntary labeling for genetically engineered foods the national standard and enshrine in federal law a failed policy that has kept consumers in the dark about what they are eating for two decades.
Most importantly, the DARK Act would preempt state efforts to require labeling of GMO foods. Since 2013, over 25 states have introduced legislation to label GMO foods, and these bills have passed in Connecticut, Maine and Vermont.
“The federal government has failed consumers for years when it comes to GMO labeling, so people around the country are getting labeling laws passed at the state level,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “It’s no surprise that Big Food and the biotechnology industry want to use Congress to block state level efforts. But it’s time for Congress to shine a light on GMOs and ensure that they’re properly labeled.”
“The biotech industry built its empire by deceiving American consumers,” said Ronnie Cummins, national director of the Organic Consumers Association. “Now that consumers realize the extent to which they’ve been deceived, and the extent to which their health has been compromised by chemical companies masquerading as food companies, they are demanding transparency. HR 1599 is a direct attack on consumers’ right to know the truth about what’s in their food. It’s also a blatant attack on states’ rights and on democracy itself.”
“The DARK Act is profoundly undemocratic as it robs citizens of their right to vote for labeling of genetically engineered food,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director at Center for Food Safety. “Citizens of 64 other countries have that right and Americans should as well. Congress needs to listen to the democratic will of the people, not the bottom line of Monsanto.”
Jim Goodman, an organic dairy and beef farmer in Wisconsin, added, “It seems funny to me that, despite efforts nationwide to minimize the impact of big government, the DARK Act is exactly the opposite. Does it make sense that the US House of Representatives would choose to dominate state and local laws around labeling GMOs?”
“Pesticide corporations and their allies in congress are trying to keep Americans in the dark,” said Kristin Schafer, policy director at Pesticide Action Network. “Americans have a right to know and a right to choose whether they want to support genetically engineered crops that promote increased and widespread herbicide use.”
Instead of the DARK Act, the letter urges members of Congress to support H.R. 913, introduced by Representative DeFazio (D-OR), and S. 511, introduced by Senator Boxer (D-CA), which would balance the needs of companies for a single labeling standard with the overwhelming demand by consumers for the mandatory labeling of GMOs in food.
“Openness and transparency are woven into the fabric of American democracy and every American has the inalienable right to know what’s in their food and how it’s produced, no matter what corporate lobbyists say in Washington DC,” said Dave Murphy, founder and executive director of Food Democracy Now! “If food companies want loyal customers who trust their products, they would be wise to support mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods. Anything less will be met with widespread consumer rejection in the marketplace.”
The letter is available at: http://documents.foodandwaterwatch.org/doc/group_letter_dark_act_House_final.pdf
For more information contact:
Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch, (202) 683-4905, firstname.lastname@example.org
Abigail Seiler, Center for Food Safety, (202) 547-9359, email@example.com
Katherine Ozer, National Family Farm Coalition, (202) 543-5675, firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul Towers, Pesticide Action Network, (916) 216-1082, email@example.com
The National Family Farm Coalition joined more than 110 farm, food and consumer groups on an April 12 letter urging Congress to oppose fast track legislation (trade promotion authority), which would ease the passage of free trade agreements such as the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) and TAFTA (Trans Atlantic Free Trade Agreement).
Dena Hoff, board vice president, said, “There is too much riding on these trade agreements for the people impacted to have no say in their future. Legislators in all participating countries need input from citizens, but that can’t happen without transparency and with the influence of 600 mostly corporate advisors. Why would uninformed lawmakers wash their hands of their responsibility to read, debate and amend the terms of these agreements?”
The letter may be read here.
AFTER WINTER, SPRING, a film by Judith Lit
In partnership with Alliance Française of Washington, Institut Français, Goethe-Institut, and the National Family Farm Coalition, this special event screening will be preceded by a dessert tasting from our favorite local spots and followed by a discussion with the filmmaker and local farmers. Filmmaker Judith Lit is also available for interviews.
Award-winning feature documentary AFTER WINTER, SPRING, will have a special event screening at the Avalon Theatre (5612 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC) on Monday, May 4 at 8:00pm. The screening will be followed by a discussion with the filmmaker and local farmers. The event will be a partial fundraiser for the National Family Farm Coalition, and is presented in partnership with the Alliance Française of Washington, the Institut Français, and the Goethe-Institut as part of their “Forging the Future” series.
The evening will be sweetened by a spread of desserts donated by our favorite establishments on Connecticut Avenue from DuPont Circle to Chevy Chase Circle: Bread Furst, Nora’s, Firefly Farms, Keswick Creamery, Bread & Chocolate, Firehook Bakery & Coffee House, and Green Plate Catering. The pre-screening tasting will begin at 7:45pm.
ABOUT THE FILM
One hundred years ago, half of the population of France were farmers. Now less than 3% farm. In the Périgord, a rural community fears they may be the last generation of family farmers in a region continuously cultivated for over five thousand years. Filmed over four years, AFTER WINTER, SPRING captures the roots of farm-to-table and the tenacity of a people who have taken one season at a time for generations.
The farmers’ stories are recorded by one of their neighbors, an American filmmaker who grew up on her family’s farm in Pennsylvania. Inter-weaving her story and theirs, the film explores the nature of the farming life and the impact of rapid modernization on families whose survival is tied to the land. As the farmer’s stories unfold, we see their responses to change…the losses and the surprising adaptations. AFTER WINTER, SPRING reveals the human story of family farming at a turning point in history.
The film was chosen to tour in France as part of the Mois du Documentaire and has played to sold-out screenings in numerous festivals including The Seattle International Film Festival, The Environmental Film Festival in the Nations Capital (Washington, DC), The International Ecological Television Festival “To Save & Preserve” (Russia), and many more. The film has won a number of awards including: the Audience Favorite Award (Mill Valley Film Festival), Best Foreign Documentary (Arizona International Film Festival), Jury Award (Caméras des Champs Festival in France) and was chosen as one of the Best of Festival at the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival.
ABOUT THE DIRECTOR, JUDITH LIT
After a childhood spent on her family’s farm in rural Pennsylvania, Judith graduated from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. She began her filmmaking career as Associate Producer of internationally acclaimed Dark Circle, winner of a National Emmy, the Grand Prize at Sundance, and a Certificate of Special Merit from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Judith went on to produce and direct other award-winning films, including Voices from the Classroom, and As Seen on TV. In addition to her production work, she served as director of the San Francisco Women on Screen Film Festival, has served on the jury of the San Francisco Film Festival and the American Film Festival. Judith recently completed, with Jane Weiner and Anne Kunvari, L’agriculture biologique: cultivar l’avenir?, a documentary produced by Arte France about organic farmers in Burgundy. For the last 18 years, Judith has divided her time between New York City and a small farm in the Périgord region of southwestern France.
ABOUT THE “FORGING THE FUTURE” SERIES
Organized by the Goethe-Institut and the Alliance Française Washington in relation to the Conference of the Parties on Climate Change in December 2015 in Paris, this series of events aims to contribute to innovative discourses for a better global future. Exhibitions, workshops, film programs and a website will highlight possibilities for a global culture of sustainability. Forging the Future is supported by a generous contribution from the Elysée-Fonds for German-French cultural programs abroad.
Tickets: aws-dc-screening.eventbrite.com or cash/check at the door; using discount code AWSnffc12 lowers ticket price from $15 to $12.
For more information on AFTER WINTER, SPRING: www.afterwinterspring.com
Film trailer: https://vimeo.com/63988204
Facebook: www.facebook.com/afterwinterpspring / Twitter: @afterwinterdoc
On March 1, NFFC ally Pesticide Action Network North America delivered a letter to President Obama and White House Task Force on Pollinator Health officials urging greater action to protect bees. An impressive 125+ groups from a wide range of backgrounds and disciplines, including environmental, beekeeper, investor, farmer and faith, joined NFFC on PANNA’s letter.
Last updated: March 03. 2015 6:20PM – 691 Views
In a teleconference, representatives of the National Family Farm Coalition said the federal milk pricing formula leaves dairy farmers unable to pay their basic costs of production. Equally important they said, was the damage to support businesses which fold when dairy farmers do not make enough money to pay them.
With compensation for milk having dropped 85 cents per gallon since Nov. 2014, dairy farmers across the country believe the the impact of the reduction will negatively impact their families and communities in the short and long term.
“In my experience consumers are surprised to learn the formula used by United States Department of Agriculture does not take into consideration the cost of production,” said Tewksbury, of Meshoppen. “Farmers understand, consumers understand, but the government does not.”
“In 1981 when the formula was implemented, there were almost 200,000 dairy farmers in our country,” he said. “Today there are only 45,000.”
Tewksbury said the Agricultural Act of 2014, also known as the Farm Bill, promised assurances to farmers that have not materialized.
“For example, the Margin Protection Program (margin insurance) designed to help farmers deal with prolonged periods of low margins, has not been as helpful to farmers as originally anticipated and not all farmers have opted to participate,” he said.
Kathy Ozer of the farm coalition said USDA assurances that exporting would increase farming profitability didn’t pan out.
“Exporting farm products was touted as the salvation of the American farmer,” said Ozer. “But that market has dried up.”
The conference also addressed negative publicity about milk and milk products in the media and amid nutritional advocates.
Tewksbury said not only does the sale of dairy products benefit the economy, it keeps people healthy.
Nina Teicholz, author of the New York Times best seller, “The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet,” told the teleconference recent trends toward avoiding fat and dairy products have left farmers financially strapped and the public undernourished.
“Even the American Heart Association has withdrawn its warning regarding the relationship between saturated fat and heart disease,” she said.
Tewksbury said he drank milk all his life and believes it has been a healthy choice.
“Hot cocoa for breakfast, whole milk in my coffee, all that,” he said.
Reach Geri Gibbons at 570-991-6117 or on Twitter @TLNews.
Originally posted at: http://www.timesleader.com/news/business-local-news/152137781/
Here we go again. Presidential hopefuls are descending on Iowa like saviors from on high, feigning to listen to “we, the voters.” With frequent news stories about how our farming practices affect others downstream (like water consumers in Des Moines and fishers in the Gulf of Mexico), or how patented GMO seed and toxic pesticides get promoted around the world as a godsend for poor hungry people, it should be evident that as Iowa goes, so goes the nation and so goes the world. With so much at stake, we should be very clear about our vision for agriculture.
From the looks of it, giant agribusinesses and their spokespeople intend to drown out the voices of everyday Iowans by aggressively promoting a vision of agriculture that puts the interests of big-money corporations before people and our environment.
A clear example of this is a high-profile political gathering in Des Moines on Saturday, proclaimed as the “Iowa Ag Summit” by its sponsor Bruce Rastetter, agribusiness investor and major political donor. His investments in ethanol and hog factory companies and his campaign contributions have paid off handsomely, landing him a powerful position on the Iowa Board of Regents. While many politicians and candidates are invited, the only questions will come from Rastetter himself. Feel left out? Won’t this really be just a “Corporate Ag Summit,” given Rastetter’s long record of making money by putting profits before people, our air, land and water?
Similar to what I witnessed during the 1980s farm crisis, corporate agribusiness groups and their financially supported politicians will claim there’s nothing to worry about. (They said, “What farm crisis? Farmers that go broke are just bad managers.”) They’ll recruit everybody into thinking that their vision of agriculture, the status quo, is the only way forward. They will say consumers only want cheap food, so hog confinements, nitrate and pesticide pollution, and decimated rural communities are part of the bargain.
The agribusiness vision is not the only or best vision, especially for family farmers. You need to know that independent farmers won’t benefit from the agribusiness status quo. Farm prices are already headed down as herbicide-resistant GMO seeds have helped bring 157 million acres of new land into production around the world. The straitjacket of the corn-soybean rotation will result in fewer and fewer farmers to the point our land will be farmed without farmers! Furthermore, all the many weed, pest and disease problems we face today will get worse and only be addressed with more GMO seeds and more chemicals that go with them.
It’s time for us to speak out, recognize that Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” (published in 1962!) foretold our situation, and remember the wisdom of Jesse Jackson’s position in his 1988 presidential race: The best urban policy starts with the best rural policy.
There is a different vision and set of policies that serve rural and urban folks alike, young and old and future generations while restoring the all-important biodiversity that has been lost. Progressive organizations support the thousands of young women and men already taking on the challenge of growing healthy pesticide-free produce for local markets or raise livestock on their family farms rather than in factory farms.
Nobody wants their drinking water contaminated with toxic chemicals, fertilizer and manure. We need policy that makes sustainable, non-polluting kinds of farming the norm, not the exception. It’s your food, your water, your air, our future.
We must speak out and demand that this kind of economic opportunity be restored to rural America!
GEORGE NAYLOR has raised non-GMO corn and soybeans on his family’s farm in Greene County since 1976. He is a board member of the Center for Food Safety and a past president of the National Family Farm Coalition. He will be a featured speaker at the Food and Ag Justice Summit in Des Moines, March 6-7. For more information, go to: www.iowacci.org or call (515) 255-0800. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
NFFC vice president, Dena Hoff (Northern Plains Resource Council), is understandably concerned: a pipeline just dumped 50,000 gallons of oil into the Yellowstone River near her farm. This is the second spill on the Yellowstone in three and a half years, and the Keystone XL pipeline is still under debate for construction.
Farm Aid explores the decline and rebuilding efforts of Black farmers in the US. FARM AID 2014 ISSUE BRIEF – BLACK FARMING and LAND LOSS
Andy Fisher and Robert Gottlieb explore the benefits – or detriments – of Walmart Foundation funding at Civil Eats.