Monday, February 15, 2010

Seeds for 2010

As you plan your 2010 garden PLEASE be thoughtful. If you are worried about crop diseases and are careful with chemical sprays because of concern for food quality and the environment, please also consider the implications of genetic manipulation in the seed supply. Many disease resistant crops are sold as improved cultivars but the research behind the gene ranges from benevolent to malevolent. Small farms and state extensions, for instance, release improved culivars but generally don't charge patent royalties. On the other hand, large companies also claim to have improved cultivars or LESS EXPENSIVE plants and seeds (available everywhere) because they are releasing patented genes into the food supply expecting cross-pollination and increased market royalties. You can not imagine the health and environmental implications of corporations owning gene patents, but please believe me when I say that it threatens to turn farmers into low-wage assemblymen of their products.
Just remember, when ordering seeds (and when buying plants and sprays) do the research, order over the phone and talk with someone knowledgeable, and if possible, buy from a small-scale local seed-saver. DON'T get your plants from box stores or a mega-nursery! Convenience and cheapness tempts you to be an enabler in a broader scheme, plain and simple.
Please also encourage friends and neighbors to be thoughtful when buying seeds plants.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Chemical Century

Prior to "The American Century," (a term I refuse to accept describing the 1900's) orchardists literally shook bugs out of trees using a long sticks; they then collected the fallen on white sheets and squashed the critters with their bare fingers. Come on, what's more American then that?
The 20th century not only started with WWI and the use of chemical warfare on people, it proceeded with constant chemical warfare against agricultural pests and diseases. One company, Monsanto, sprung-up around that time to provide farmers and the U.S. Government chemical and geno-weapons against natural pests, which optimistically, seemed controllable through scientific advancement. By mid-century, Monsanto's research realized Agent Orange and the Manhattan Project, and the environment was ingesting heavy loads of DDt, but still, chemical warfare raged on. In 1970, Mansanto brought us "Roundup" which it still claims to be "environmental" (see their PR site:, and compare their info with that of a watch dog: .) Is the 20th century approach to agriculture representative of a good America?
Before you answer, check out the Monsanto's newest front on agriculture and you'll get a direct look at how their warfare accepts farmer and consumer health as "acceptable collateral damage." Check out this video and keep in mind the Supreme Court's recent decision concerning cooperate campaign funding.
The American century.