Tag Archives: activism

after the march against monsanto: responsible activism

Well, the march came and went. We got some news coverage. Some. We also got some people talking. Success? . . .  A start.

The incredible traffic my posts on Monsanto received afterwards, and the searches that people are using to find me give me hope that people are starting to ask the right questions – mainly –

Who the heck are these guys and why didn’t I know about them before??

Unfortunately social media has been our main method of communicating about the issues surrounding Monsanto, and this is proving to be a double-edged sword.

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The March Against Monsanto : Who is Monsanto and why should you care?

This coming Saturday, May 25, the March Against Monsanto gets underway in 36 countries around the globe. Yes, 36. I am excited and worried and hopeful.

In my circle of experience, I take for granted that most people know who Monsanto is and why they’re bad news. I realized this week that I shouldn’t.


First of all, let’s get a look at the lay of the land, so to speak.

What are GMO’s?

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preaching to the choir

I’m suffering a mild, perhaps major, attack of self-doubt at the moment.

I found myself pissed right off this morning at some ding-dong I don’t even know. And then I got pissed at myself for being pissed at him. And then I yelled at a guy in traffic, and may have made a gesture . . . Or three.

Not good.

I have so many other worries right now . . . Getting this darn house sold, raising my boy.

Big worries, little worries, everyday annoyances. There are plenty. Such is life.

So why do I keep insisting on taking on the worries I write about in this blog? I have to wonder what, if any, difference its making?

I keep running into folks who seem to think that you don’t have the right to talk about or question our food system unless you are running a humungous industrial agricultural operation or are publishing in Scientific Journal or some other baloney.

I was actually asked today

How do you know what to eat or drink if you don’t trust science???

First of all, I never said I didn’t trust science in and of itself, I said I don’t trust the system that sees scientific papers published.

Since when does a mother need to read scientific journals to make sane decisions about what to feed or not feed her family? Have we fallen that far????

If we have, things are even worse than I thought.

Maybe we should just all give up now.

Soylent Green, anyone?

What has happened to our common sense? Our ability to make informed decisions free from all the rhetoric and red herrings? Why can’t I question the practices of companies like Monsanto or confinement farming methods without being drawn into some irrelevant (and untrue) argument about my being anti-worker? Why on earth does it have to be so complicated????

And I realized today, I’m just as much to blame for complicating matters. I spend so much time reading and writing about these issues, that I forget that most folks don’t do the same. I’ve fallen victim to jargon and have allowed my outrage to make me vulnerable to baiting by morons.

I’m questioning whether I’m actually helping people make change, ask questions and improve our food system, or if I’m just preaching to the choir . . . A choir that can’t be heard over the big-money blowhards of the other side.

I wish I could just say to the Monstanto’s of the world

Give your head a shake! Cut it out!

But I can’t.

I keep telling myself that that shouldn’t stop me. That we don’t need to be scientists or factory farmers or CEO’s of major agricultural corporations to make change. That we can make change at home, one meal, one seed at a time.

Today that just feels childish and naive.

All I am is a Mama who wants the best future possible for her son. For him to be safe and healthy and have access to safe, nourishing food that doesn’t hurt him, the environment or the workers who produce it.

I don’t think that’s too much for a mother to ask.

becoming a producer

become a producer instead of a consumer

I read a lot about sustainability, simple living, food security, climate change, social justice, economics, peak oil, peak everything . . .

I think most regular, everyday folks watch the news and can agree that this isn’t the world we want. For the most part, it seems to me, people are awakening to the idea that we need to make change.

So why are we continuing to dream this world into existence? Why aren’t we imagining something different?

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the push-back against “urban” farming

I burst out laughing when I saw this headline on Twitter:

Are urban chickens a gateway drug for urban cows and pigs?

Of course, I had to click through to the article on treehugger.com.

And when I did I laughed even harder.

The article is about my hubby’s hometown of Campbellford, Ontario.

You probably don’t know where that is.

It’s ok.

Before I met Jeff, neither did I.

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closure of prison farms leads to million dollar milk bill

Media Release                                                                 April 29, 2010

Replacing Prison Farm Milk to Cost Almost $1 Million

Kingston, ON – Government tenders reveal Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) will pay almost $1 million to replace the milk currently produced at one of Kingston’s prison farms.

The tender notice, placed on the government’s website, MERX, states that a milk supplier is required to deliver milk Monday to Friday to locations in Campbellford, Gravenhurst, and Kingston.  The contract is valued at $990 000.

“This ad shows the value of the milk now being produced at the Frontenac Institution in Kingston,” said Dianne Dowling, a local dairy farmer and a member of the Save Our Prison Farms campaign.  “We were right to doubt the financial argument the Harper govenment used to justify closing the prison farm program across Canada.”  There are six prison farms in Canada, located in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario (two in Kingston), and New Brunswick.

Dowling pointed out that Frontenac Institution also provides milk to prisons in Quebec, a supply requirement not addressed in the advertisement.  “Another tender will be needed to fill that gap when the prison farm is closed.  As well, there are the eggs supplied by Frontenac that will also have to be contracted out.”  In addition, senior Corrections staff have already told campaign members that CSC will not replace the thousands of dozens of eggs they currently supply to the local food bank.

The CSC notice indicates that the tender comes under NAFTA regulations, meaning the milk could come from as far away as the United States or Mexico.

“The prison farm at Frontenac spends about $900 000 per year in the Kingston region.  Closing the farm will have a negative economic impact on this part of eastern Ontario, especially farm suppliers,” Dowling said.  “It shows the disdain the government has for local farmers and local business operators.”

“Meanwhile it will cost CSC almost a million dollars to replace the milk they are now producing for themselves,” Dowling said.  “That money will go to milk processors and distributors that could be anywhere in North America, and will add thousands of kilometres on the delivery, contrary to the local food movement. The milk produced at the prison farm is now processed at the prison dairy within hours of collection and inmates earn third party dairy handling certificates.”

“Right now, the prison farms are supplying several prisons with local and sustainable products at low cost to Canadian taxpayers,” said Bridget Doherty of the Sisters of Providence peace and justice office.  “This ad shows that the government is willing to stop inmates from contributing to the prison system, in dismantling a rehabilitation program that is a model for the world.”

Both the Save Our Prison Farms campaign and the House of Commons Public Safety Committee have asked the Harper government to make public the CSC Strategic Review, which proposed closing the prison farms.  So far, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has not supplied the information.

“It’s time the government stopped hiding the facts and came clean on its actions,” said Doherty.  “Why should the public have to accept destructive policies without having access to information?”

The Save Our Prison Farms campaign will be hold information meetings in ridings held by Conservative members of Parliament.  Meetings are scheduled for May 4 at the Athens Township Hall, and on May 10 at the Napanee Town Hall.  Both meetings begin at 7:30 p.m.

“With Liberal, NDP, and Green Party speakers, these events in Tory-held ridings are a multi-party effort to stop the Harper Conservatives from closing the prison farms,” said Dowling.  “The government needs to wake up to the message that the closures do not make financial or public safety sense to Canadians.”

For more information, please contact:

Dianne Dowling, dowling@kos.net  613-546-0869

Bridget Doherty, bridget.doherty@providence.ca  613-544-4525, ext 145


Milk – Correctional Service of Canda

Trade Agreement: NAFTA/AIT

Tendering Procedures:

Attachment: None

Competitive Procurement Strategy: Lowest/Lower Bid

Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement: No

Nature of Requirements:

Milk – Correctional Service of Canada


Weaver, Tammy

Telephone No. – (613) 545-8059 ( )

Fax No. – (613) 545-8067

To establish a Regional Individual Standing Offer (RISO) for the

provision of Milk to Correctional Service Canada, Kingston ,

Campbellford and Gravenhurst , Ontario .

Period of Standing Offer: Date of award to 31 May 2011.

Supplier must be able to make deliveries Monday to Friday before

12 Noon on Delivery days.

Estimated Value: $990,000.00 (GST Excluded)

Delivery Date: 23/04/2010

Bill C-474 moves forward!

Chock one up for the little guy!

Thanks for everyone who wrote to their MP’s regarding this important issue. There is a long fight ahead but the vote last week is an important step in the right direction. It is heartening to see that once in a while our voices can be heard over the hollering (and big money) of the agri-industry.

Keep writing and sharing information about this important issue. The best offense we have against this kind of insanity is to arm ourselves with knowledge and to speak out.

First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. Then they fight you. Then you win.                                        – Ghandhi

Here are a couple of press releases from the NFU and CBAN:



SASKATOON, Sask.—“Yesterday’s vote to send Bill C-474 forward to the Agriculture Committee for detailed analysis and debate is an important victory and major step in trying to protect farmers and the Canadian economy from the economic disaster that GM crops can create,” said NFU President Terry Boehm.

As the text of the Bill states, C-474 would “require that an analysis of potential harm to export markets be conducted before the sale of any new genetically engineered seed is permitted.”

Boehm said: “Triffid flax has demonstrated the serious consequences GM contamination can have.  It is time now for the Agriculture Committee to make the Bill a functional reality in our regulatory system—it is not time to kill the idea of market harm assessment.”

“This bill will not impede innovation,” said Boehm.  “Instead, it will make innovators conscious that their work needs to benefit a broad cross-section of society—not just the company selling the product.  This is only logical for a healthy society and economy.”

Boehm urged MPs not to be swayed by pressure or threats from biotech companies.  “The biotech industry has threatened Canadians before; companies said that they would pull out and shut down research when citizens overwhelmingly wanted their food labelled for GM content.  MPs bought that bogus argument at the time.  Let’s hope that MPs do not accept it with regard to C-474.  Unfortunately, most Conservatives MPs have already bought that argument—with the exception of two brave Members from that party.  Let’s hope the rest of our minority-Parliament MPs act for farmers and citizens and do not accept the threats of the biotech industry. We will all be stronger and better off if they stand up to these threats,” said Boehm.

Boehm dismissed arguments that our system must be guided solely by so-called “science-based” calculations.  He said: “There is an almost superstitious belief that ‘science-based’ means infallible or beyond question—that someone has ‘proven’ food A or B is 100% safe.  In reality, so-called science-based assessments are largely based on data submitted by companies seeking to sell products.  The data is the result of limited testing.  And there is little independent verification done in government labs.  Most important, so-called science-based assessment of human-health safety or ‘substantial equivalence’ is largely a simple risk assessment—primarily a mathematical calculation of probability.  Once we realize this, it is only rational to ask: In what way is this mathematical probability assessment of human health harm superior to a mathematical assessment of market harm?  Why should an economic analysis which is also mathematically based be so scary to the biotech industry?”

“All farmers and Canadians should act promptly to ensure Bill C-474 becomes law,” concluded Boehm.


For more information:

Terry Boehm, NFU President:                     (306) 255-2880

Darrin Qualman, Director of Research:         (306) 652-9465

MPs listen to Canadians ahead of industry on GM Crops

Groups applaud MPs for moving Bill C-474 to Committee for study

For Immediate Release

Ottawa. Thursday, April 15, 2010 – Last night, Parliament passed Private Members Bill C-474 through second reading, in spite of intense pressure from the biotech industry. The Bill, which would require analysis of potential harm to export markets before the sale of new genetically modified (GM) seeds, will now be studied by the House of Commons Agriculture Committee.

“Finally MPs are taking steps to protect farmers from the economic chaos that GM crops can cause,” said Terry Boehm, President of the National Farmers Union, “GM contamination has already seriously damaged major export markets for Canadian flax farmers and would threaten the markets for our alfalfa and wheat growers.”

The NDP and Bloc Quebecois supports the Bill and last night Liberal Party MPs voted to allow the Bill to go to this next stage. The Conservative Party strongly opposes the Bill, though two B.C. Conservative MPs voted in favour. The Bill was introduced by Alex Atamanenko, NDP Agriculture Critic and MP for B.C. Southern Interior.

“Last night, the majority of MPs listened to Canadians instead of the biotech industry,” said Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, “MPs will now have the opportunity to study and debate this Bill. We are witnessing the first substantive debate in Parliament over the negative impacts of GM crops.”

The biotech industry lobbied vigorously to stop the upcoming debate at Committee. Yet the strength of public and farmer concern over GM crops was apparent to MPs. Over 9000 thousand letters were sent from constituents in the past month asking MPs to support the Bill. At least 6 MPs were also presented with petitions.

Bill C-474 was supported by the National Farmers Union, which urged Parliamentarians and all Canadians, to support the Bill. The Canadian Federation of Agriculture took a cautious stance in favour of moving the Bill forward, to encourage debate at Committee.

“The current GM flax contamination crisis shows the value of this Bill. And the threat of GM alfalfa has made the Bill an urgent necessity,” said Sharratt. Canadian flax export markets closed in October 2009 when GM contamination was detected.

“We will not stand by and watch farmers struggle alone against the corporate juggernaut of biotechnology,” said Sharratt, “The time when Canadians are expected to accept GM crops without question, is over.”


For more information: Terry Boehm, National Farmers Union, 306 255 2880;  Lucy Sharratt, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, 613 241 2267 ext.6.