Amongst the austerities of slashed natural gas supplies, dwindling funding for school & community food projects & initiatives, and rarer & rarer political capital to support the continuation of community development programs, there’s at least one thing we collectively should have free and plentiful stock: civil public discourse at grassroots food levels. Yet, as exhibited by the striking partisanship from recent GE (Genetically Engineered) Alfalfa approval decisions, we find ourselves at the verge of finding ourselves at a point, as Abraham Lincoln one noted, of confronting “a house against itself [that] will not stand.”
Here’s a recent example of such undecorous dialogue on an online network for food producers, consumers, and advocates, COMFOOD:
“I share people’s outrage at the WSJ article that characterized the problem with GMOs as being a marketing issue for organics. But perhaps the WSJ article grew out of statements made by the organics movement itself?
How many alerts focused the opposition to GE alfalfa on the threat to organic dairies’ ability to comply with the certification requirements? And now the “prevention plan” from L&^&&^& H@#@#@ and a few others appears to accept the premise that GMOs will be planted and people will eat them. Four of the seven points deal with economics and seed contamination — if I read that, without having more background on GMO issues, I’d assume that the major issue is marketing of organic production.
I understand political realities. We cannot get what we want, when we want it, how we want it. Urging that companies be liable for compensation or negotiating intermediate options may be the most we can accomplish in some contexts, and damage control is better than a complete loss.
But we cannot lose sight of the big picture of the damage being done by GMOs, not only to organics, but to EVERY person in this country. GMOs are bad for soil health, plant health, animal health, and human health.
I am not a certified organic producer. But I will not feed any GMO feed to my animals for one simple reason: the health effects. Yes, we need more research. But the research we already have indicates that GMOs can cause very serious health problems. And since most of these crops are genetically engineered to allow for more spraying of Roundup, we are also faced with the health effects of glyphosate.
As a sustainable livestock producer and activist, I do NOT stand united behind a statement that accepts coexistence as the solution. As a movement, we need to reach out to the many other people who are impacted – the rural communities who face increased health problems from the increased spraying of glyphosate, “average” Americans facing health problems because they eat foods containing GMOs, and conventional farmers who are being driven out of business by tech fees for technology that doesn’t truly benefit them or their customers.
If people are outraged at the WSJ article’s portrayal of our fight against GMOs, then let’s start getting out a new message: Every American will pay the price for the USDA’s approval of GE alfalfa, just as they have already been paying the price for GE corn and GE soy. We are opposed to GMOs because they benefit only the companies who make them, at the expense of Americans’ environment, economy, and health.”
Here’s the responding voice:
I find it remarkable that someone as sharp as you would twist the statement I sent out as an acceptance of “coexistence.” I urge you to read our letter again and to hear the underlying message – those of us who care about small farms, our country, democratic control and oppose corporate dominance need to work together. We need to demand regulation of gmo crops, labeling of gmo foods, and the placing of liability on the patent holders who have profited from spreading gmos. The suits against big tobacco will seem like small change when people start suing the companies that have made so many people in this country and around the world sick with their cheap food.”
Seriously, I thought we were all adults or at least individuals mature enough to express views on systemic conflicts with some degree of civility and respect. If we cannot even carry on a courteous conversation within our own communities, how can we ever demand the same from our opponents, let alone political representatives who are supposed to represent our most prescient of concerns?