Norman Borlaug and Vandana Shiva were walking along a beach…


Norman Borlaug* and Vandana Shiva were walking along a beach when they came upon a bottle. Borlaug reached down, picked it up and opened it.

A genie appeared and thanked them for releasing him. He was so grateful that he offered to grant the two any wish they wanted.

He turned to Borlaug and asked him what he wanted. Borlaug didn’t miss a beat and said, “I wish there was  a new solution to help agriculture advance and help feed the poor of the world and increase nutrition in areas that lack it.”

The genie winced and said, “Well, I don’t have the power to create the solution,  but I can give you a scientific tool that will help.  It’s called genetically modified organisms.” Borlaug was thrilled, thanked the genie and walked away smiling.

He then turned to Shiva and asked what she wanted. Shiva  furrowed her brow and then perked up and said excitedly,  “My  neighbors get better yields with gmos than my organic farm. I want you to destroy my neighbor’s  farm.”

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Is organic farming the boy in the bubble of agriculture?


In their opposition to GMOs, organic farmers point to the possible contamination of their crops. The use of the word contamination in itself is hyperbole and note the qualifier, possible. What they mean is cross-pollination, a less scary sounding word. Their vocabulary is full of maybescould happens, and what ifs?

Organic farmers seem to be feel everything modern is a threat to their crops and it doesn’t even have to be that modern. Conventional farming, large-scale farming, the Moops. Everything seems to be a threat organic farming including food safety rules.

 He and other organic farmers say stricter food-safety regulations, developed after a cluster of outbreaks of bacterial contamination in spinach and lettuce in 2006, threaten the principles upon which their farms are based.

If your principles are at odds with food safety, perhaps you might want to re-think your principles.

The Organic Seed Trade Association (OSGATA) lawsuit against Monsanto is a classic example of paranoid what if thinking.  They sued to have Monsanto promise not to sue organic farmers if their crops get contaminated from neighboring gmo fields. They admitted in court filings that it hasn’t happened yet, but it might happen. 

Monsanto, in response, offered up the reasoning that why would they sue someone who isn’t using, and has no use for their seeds?

Here is an aerial view of the lead plaintiff  Jim Gerritson’s, organic farm taken from their site. Where is this contamination going to come from? Is Monsanto going to fly over his farm in planes dropping seeds so they can sue him?

woodprairie

Last year, a federal court dismissed the suit. It is currently under appeal.

The latest threat  to organic farms comes to us from Shoreham, Vermont.  Raj Bhatka, is a kind of unlikable guy who was fired from the Trump reality show The Apprentice and ran an unsuccessful campaign for Congress.  He built a rye whiskey bottling plant, Whistle Pig on some farmland and wants to start distilling his own rye whiskey and his organic farming neighbors are against it.  They, you guessed it, feel the distillery might be a threat to their crops.

WCAX.com reports:

Bhatka’s neighbors, George Gross and Barbara Wilson, who own a small organic berry farm called Solar Haven Farm, have voiced concerns about potential traffic, noise and black fungal growth or BFG, which can be produced from ethanol in the fermentation and whiskey-aging process.

“We believe the ethanol could be a potential source [my emphasis] of mold on our crop,” Gross said.

The article says that both sides have spent tens of thousands of dollars in this booze fueled fight. Bhatka says he’s not a rich guy and that “In an attempt to work through the rules, there are ample loopholes for malcontent and slightly insane neighbors with a budget to slow things down.”

His neighbors claim they are not trying to stop him just to ensure he follows the rules. George Gross claims they are not trying to queer his deal. “It’s not our intention to stop WhistlePig. We want them to be compliant with the law and respect the community and neighbors they have.”

When Gross refers to the community and neighbors, he is referring specifically to his farm. The town Selectmen have no problem with Bhatka. And seemingly, neither do most people in the area.

The aptly named Geoff Green, Environmental Commission coordinator for the area said, “Even a whiskey distillery can have potential big impacts on the environment and that’s what it’s all about.”

The angle the Gross’ are using is to claim that Bhatka’s business has been running for two years without a Act 250 permit which is required since his business is not considered a farm. According to state law, to be considered a farm, 50%  of the ingredients have to be grown on the farm. Since the state says the whiskey’s main ingredient is water they don’t qualify, even though they grow rye for their whiskey, organic rye no less.

Organic farming seems to be the Boy in the Bubble of agriculture. Organic farmers are always complaining about threats to their method of farming; and that’s what it is, a method. If organic farming is so fragile, how on earth do they think it is a viable and sustainable way of farming?

How’s the safety of organic food working out for ya?


ecoliThe anti-GMO crowd constantly points to the lack of long-term safety studies of foods containing GMOs. They continue with this meme even though there have been hundreds of studies over the last 16 years attesting to their safety and major scientific and health organizations have signed off on them. The Big Ignore is the fact that in that time there hasn’t been one negative health effect on humans. Not one.

In order to protect themselves from the scourge of GMO foods, many have extolled the virtues of organic food, touting its safety and the imaginary idea that a $30 billion/year business is all mom and pop.  But as  I noted last year in Should organic foods be labeled, “May contain E.coli or Salmonellathat trust may be misplaced.

The E.coli outbreak in Germany that killed 50 people and hospitalized thousands in 2011 was caused by organic sprouts. Also, last year, sprouts from an Illinois organic farm sickened people in 26 states. These outbreaks didn’t come from conventional or GMO foods.

This year, an organic farm was responsible for at least 10 people being diagnosed with Campylobacter infections.

Well, we have an update. The latest news about the safest foods in the history of the planet comes from Taylor Farms which  just had to recall its organic spinach in 39 states due to an e.coli scare.

Let’s see what else has been going on. Multistate Outbreak of Shiga Toxin-producing Escherichia coli O157:H7 Infections Linked to Organic Spinach and Spring Mix Blend 

A total of 33 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coliO157:H7 (STEC O157:H7) were reported from five states.

46% of ill persons were hospitalized. Two ill persons developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure, and no deaths were reported.

When they’re not poisoning us they’re trying to kill us with foreign objects in there foods.

Annie’s Recalling Homegrown Frozen Pizza for Foreign Objects.

Rudi’s Organic Bakery Breads Recalled for Foreign Objects

Back in 2011, Lundberg Farms, who helped finance the Prop. 37 labeling campaign had to recall its Sea Salt Rice Chips in Canada due to undeclared soy.

I’ve made this suggestion before and I will make it again. There needs to be labels on organic foods. Consumers have a right-to- know whether we might be at risk of  e.coli poisoning or have our stomachs sliced open from the inside by foreign objects. And the children. Think of the children. 

Considering that in 2011-2012 there were almost two dozen recalls of organic products due to illness, hospitalization and death, we should impose a moratorium on organic foods until the industry can prove they are 100% safe. There have been no long-term studies of organic foods and the effect of foreign objects in it.

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