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Farmers v. Monsanto

Our friend over at Red Garden Clogs recently went to a rally organize by Occupy Big Food and Food Democracy Now, and has the lowdown here. I wasn’t able to make it, but I’m glad we got the report from RGC, as well as some powerful snapshots of signs of the timeline of Monsanto, beginning with its founding in 1901 by a 30-year pharm veteran (yes, that’s pharmaceutical, NOT farm), to the development of Agent Orange (manufactured primarily by Monsanto) in the years 1939-45, which was used from 1961-1971 during the Vietnam War as part of Operation Ranch Hand, to today, when 81 transgenic crops have been approved by the FDA without a single request denied.

I have a friend, Larry (Sarge) Forrest who was the first African-American to serve in the elite Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (his story is only partly told in the book Six Silent Men) and, he tells me, an invitee to the Tuskegee Airmen Society, recently featured in George Lucas’s Red Tails (I saw it recently and highly recommend everyone reading this does too) since there was really no other place to put him and his friend who trained the mechanics who took care of the red tail planes that these honorable pilots flew. A skilled sniper, he was also a victim of Agent Orange and suffers its effects to this day.

There are so many reasons to be aware of what’s going on with food production today, from the obvious alarming ecological impact to honoring people who have fought the effects of irresponsible food production historically, and of course to try to reduce the number of people who suffer illness and death so that Big Food producers can increase their bottom line.

QUESTION: what are you doing to help bring attention to these issues or raise your own awareness of them?  Have your eating and buying habits changed in response to awareness of the issues surrounding Big Food production?  Do you have any recommendations how others can do the same?  Go ahead … gimme the dirt!

10 responses to “Farmers v. Monsanto

  1. Ralph ⋅

    George Lucas was on ‘The Daily Show’ (Comedy Channel) within the past 2 weeks. The interview had some interesting discussion about the movie, story, and it’s making. It should be available online. I haven’t seen the movie yet.

    I’ve been hearing bits and pieces about Monsanto’s actions on a number of podcasts. Just last night I listened to a new Self Sufficient Gardener podcast where Jason mentioned possible indirect dealings between Territorial Seed and Monsanto, but he didn’t go into any detail. Not unlike the financial sector, small seed companies are slowly and quietly being bought up. Whole Foods now sells some GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) products. There’s few things more effective at quieting talk than stuffing mouths with lots of cash. How much has been said about two nuclear reactors in the US leaking radiation within the past two weeks, the radioactive leakage from Japan’s damaged reactors increasing over 5 times, or radioactive contaminated fish being sold in Canada?

    Of cause there’s no place better than DC to find lots of open and corrupt mouths to stuff. Monsanto has been able to bribe …. er convince those we put in office not to require labels on the genetically modified foods we eat. Should anyone do independent testing of GMOs they are forbidden to reveal any results. It makes one wonder why.

    I do tell some people about GMOs, pesticides, artificial sweeteners and the like. Notice I said some. Fact is no matter how bad something may be most people are not going to stop guzzling their diet soda and the like. In all fairness, the same can be said about some things I do. So, it boils down to what a person decides they want to do or believe. Not having news about ‘the bad stuff’ doesn’t help since many are simply unaware of things, and one backyard gardener with bamboo and banana plants may not be looked upon as the most reliable news source. Still, it is important to keep spreading the word. Just like re-electing inept politicians term after term, or convincing parents that chock full of sugar cereal is healthy for their children, if people hear something enough times from enough people they will eventually believe it- even if it is true.

    PS- check out an episode of The Twilight Zone called “The Shelter”

    • Revel

      I’ll look for it. The Twilight Zone happens to be one of my favorite shows, and I still delight at happening to catch one of the old episodes here and there.

      I think your message is spot on. First, I think that you are precisely the person to be helping spread the word and your banana plant and bamboo growing should lend you even greater credibility. I think if more people were working with the dirt and growing their own, so to speak, there would be much more widespread awareness of some of the Big Food issues affecting all of us.

      The over-processing of our food makes it increasingly resemble real food less and less. The more real food people are eating (whether it be like the miniature strawberries you sprinkled on your salads last summer, or carefully selected greens from Union Square), the more it’s a natural inclination to think about the process that gets the food out of the ground, onto the plate, into our mouths. IMHO, at least. So, keep spreading that word. It’s an important one!

  2. meemsnyc

    My in-laws are organic farmers in upstate NY and they worry about Monsanto seeds accidentally getting on their fields all the time. Hopefully the farmer’s will get their day in court. I try my hardest to eat locally and organic as much as possible, and of course to grow our own food.

    I was just telling Red Garden Clogs that I think we should do a plant seedling swap in April? Would you be interested? I could host it at my house in Staten Island?

    Yes, please do share the review on Facebook.

    • Revel

      Absolutely! Please count me in. What are your in-laws growing, and do they sell at any of the markets in NY? We’re always looking for good people to support. Talk to you soon!

      Sent from my iPhone

  3. Ralph ⋅

    I just read an email from The Self Sufficient Gardener. Jason put up a simple ‘when to plant it’ chart in PDF format. Check out

    More recently, a company I haven’t really heard anything about, BASF, tried introducing genetically modified potatoes in the EU. The EU rejected them. Apparently they have more sense than us when it comes to food. The EU also rejected a genetically modified pig a while back. Some of this stuff makes SciFi look normal!

    I can’t remember where I heard it, but apparently a bunch of farmers got together and are fighting Monsanto in court over the GMO contamination of organic crops. What makes this difficult is many people in the FDA have worked for Monsanto, and many from the FDA go back to working for Monsanto. Big corporations should have nothing to do with politics in any way, shape, or form- that is what got us (and most of the world) into much of the mess we are in. Think very carefully before voting! Political advertising, like product advertising is best ignored. Like him or not, follow ex Pres. Bush’s words on fighting terrorism, but apply it to political candidates. Just follow the money. If you do that you will see the real agenda.

    Limited to what I hear, corn seems to be at highest risk to genetic contamination due to it’s wind pollination over large distances. Helping to save our natural plants and seeds is the main reason I joined The Seed Saver’s Exchange. The organization, and many of it’s members save and exchange ‘pure’ seeds. Everyone who grows their own heritage/ open pollinated plants should try to save seeds and exchange them.

    A seedling swap sounds interesting, although I haven’t started to grow anything as of yet. I was hoping to put my soil cube tool to use this year starting some things indoors, my main limitation being very limited access to enough sun to get healthy starts. If anyone is not familiar with soil cubes, start researching at
    They periodically have a few they give away to their forum members, and their podcasts are well worth listening to.

    PS- catch a not often played episode of The Twilight Zone called ‘Valley of the Shadows’. Especially if you are a watcher of Star Trek (the original in particular) you will notice some very interesting similarities. The SciFi channel usually plays one or two Zone shows in the wee morning hours, but rarely that particular episode.

  4. Ralph ⋅

    I just listened to a good podcast on fast foods, agent orange, and Monsanto. If interested:

    A Bamboo Grows in Brooklyn:
    Last night in Park Slope I happened to see a home which obviously had a gardener inside. All around the curbside tree which was in a raised bed was growing what looked like a wild bush. On closer inspection it was bamboo! The front yard had a large evergreen tree with a flood light shining up through it, and the stairs were lined with flower pots. I would imagine the yard had a garden as well. It would seem there are lots of gardens around, some well taken care of. The problem, at least in my case is that too often I am driving around at night for work and just don’t notice things. I’ll have to try walking around a little more when time permits and see what’s right out there in the open to see and enjoy.

    • Revel

      Thanks for the podcast link — I look forward to checking it out. Nice sight you happened upon. A moment that made me happy last summer was when I passed by my living room window and saw a woman and her daughter who were passing by stop and admire the garden in the front yard. It just made me smile to know that what I enjoyed doing so much was appreciated by others. I’m thinking about just doing a vast variety of wildflowers in the front yard this year, packing in as many colors as possible. Edible ones too!

  5. Ralph ⋅

    One podcast (Growing Your Grub- I think) had an episode where someone was a little worried about growing something other than grass in the front lawn. They planted miniature tomatoes and invited anyone who wanted to take a handful. Strawberries would probably be a hit too.

    I got my paper copy of The Seed Savers Exchange Yearbook in the mail today. An initial look and I found 2 things I may order. One is a rice that can grow in regular dirt without flooding it with water. It is supposed to have come from the Mayans in Belize. Another is a type of grain that dates to stone age times and can be eaten like rice. This catalog has some amazing stuff, but it’s not conducive to my wanting to plant fewer varieties of plants this year. I have to take a closer look at my 2 prospects. These are exchanged between SSE members and some things are available by trade only.

  6. Ralph ⋅

    A number of medicinal herbs have edible flowers. Borage, calendula, and lambs quarters come to mind- check those since they really are from memory. A number of podcasts on The Survival Podcast and Self Sufficient Gardener talk about useful herbs. A garden like that, full of useful things are what some preppers plant. The idea is most people are uninformed about edible plants, and even if they were starving they would walk right through a field of food without knowing it. Guerilla gardening is a similar technique, except you plant in an empty lot or near a park, covertly. You don’t draw attention to your activities. You also don’t plant in nice neat rows which are easy to spot, but in a someone random manner to blend in with natural surroundings. ‘Seed bombs’ are a good way to start a guerilla garden. Balls of soil with seeds inside are tossed into the garden to be, and let nature take it’s course.

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