Tag Archives: Genetically modified organism

on liberty : food and freedom

On May 25, 2013, as we marched through the streets of Vancouver protesting Monsanto, we chanted:

“Our food, OUR choice”.

Seems simple, right? We should have the freedom to choose what we put in our bodies. And yet . . .

In Canada and the USA, we do not have the right to know what is in our food. That, apparently, would be too much trouble for the marketers. They might not make as much money. They might actually have to ensure that their products are safe.

Should food be a human right?

You wouldn’t know it from the current state of affairs, but food and health are protected under national and international human rights conventions.

Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides us with the right to freedom of conscience and the right to life, liberty and security. Article 25 (1) of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides everyone with “the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food ” [. . .] (emphasis mine)

Before I became a full-time mum and farmer, I worked in a government human rights agency. All sorts of wild and wonderful things are covered and defended by government under the umbrella of “human rights”. Some are incredibly important and worth fighting for, some well,  not so much. I saw everything imaginable in my career there, and some things you most certainly couldn’t imagine.

Looking back, it bothers me to know that I was required to administer complaints that were frankly completely flippant, self-absorbed and absolute wastes of tax-payers dollars, while something as important as the right to food has been deemed not worthy of the same protection.

Freedom of conscience, freedom of association, freedom of religion, freedom from discrimination – what do these mean if you’re hungry?

Our current fetish with political correctness merely distracts us from a real and devastating attack on our most basic rights and freedoms.

The fact of the matter is we do not have a democracy; we have had a corporate coupe d’etat.

It has been this way for some time. When a corporation’s right to poison us and profit from it, and do it with the full protection of the law, comes before the people’s right to safe, clean food . . . well then. Our governments don’t work for us anymore. They work for the lobbyists, the corporations, the marketing boards, the elite and the powerful.

They do all these evils under the guise that A rising tide lifts all boats.

Look around you. We aren’t rising. We’re drowning.

In North America, not only do we NOT have the right to a clean, safe food supply, we don’t even have the right to know that our food isn’t safe. We don’t have the right to choose because we are actively denied the information required to do so.

Corporations control the seed industry to such and extent that one of our Canadian seed companies has been blocked from shipping seeds to the USA. His beautiful, organic, heirloom (actually EDIBLE) soybeans were confiscated by customs, claiming that his seeds threatened the US soybean crop.

Over 90% of that crop is GMO, owned by Monsanto. This is the same crop that makes it nearly impossible for farmers to grow soy organically with traditional seeds, because of contamination from GMO fields and fear that Monsanto will then sue the owners of the contaminated fields for patent infringement.

Read that again.

Now think about what that means, what that says about the state of our food system, the state of our freedom, and the role government is playing in it’s complete and utter erosion.

For a culture that holds the Free Market System as the new religion, the Laws of Supply and Demand beyond reproach and above all else – that seems odd, doesn’t it? There is demand, and there is supply. And yet, the very same corporations who cry bloody murder when they are asked to be held accountable to anything but the almighty Free Market, aren’t so keen for those very same principles to be applied against them, no matter how small the scale.

These companies and the government change the rules of the game whenever they see fit, to suit their own greed and power-lust, not the common good.

Our culture provides us with an illusion of freedom and choice; we can vote for our favourite Idol, express our most mundane thoughts to the world a million times a day via social media . . . but this is nothing more than a palaver, a stand in, a replica of real freedom. It is hollow and meaningless, a mere distraction.

If we cannot even choose what to feed our children, what to put in our own bodies, how can we claim to be free?

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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March Against Monsanto : Finally some mainstream media coverage!

You don’t get much more mainstream than CNN.

I’m Canadian, and cancelled most of my cable, and frankly find CNN kind of hilarious on most days anyway, in a weird, sort of sad parody on American culture kind of way . . . but heck, it’s what most people watch, or so I’m told.

And here, finally, is their coverage of Saturday’s March Against Monsanto. Three days late, but hey, better late than never, right?

Supporters of the March Against Monsanto bombarded mainstream media with complaints about the lack of coverage and looks like someone listened. Is it the best coverage? No, but hey, we’ll take what we can get.

We all gotta start somewhere.

When a world-wide peaceful protest ISN’T news : The March Against Monsanto

A note from Stacey:

This post has been seen by over 400 people in just the last few hours. I just want to say thank you to everyone who is taking them time to educated themselves on this important issue. When you are done, please share this post and my related post regarding why we need to care about Monsanto. I have heard back from some of the media outlets I contacted regarding the lack of coverage and their responses have been pathetic. It’s time for us to create a NEW mainstream media. It’s up to us. Spread the word. Share the information. SHARING IS REBELLIOUS. Cheers, Stacey The Slow Foods Mama

march against monsanto sign          no to gmo alfalfa           no patents on life

Yesterday morning we headed to downtown Vancouver to take part in our local March Against Monsanto, signs in hand and munchkin in tow. It was POURING. When we arrived at the Art Gallery, the turn out was decidedly disappointing, but to my encouragement there were tons of kids there. TONS. Mamas, wee babies, other prego ladies, lots and lots of families.

march against monsanto vancouver

We waited and waited in the pouring rain, and as we did, our numbers grew, and grew . . . and grew. By the time we got marching, we were at the end of the line, pushing the buggy – 15 minutes in the march had grown to such an extent that I couldn’t see the end of it!

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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.

So.

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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GMO food dialogues : AKA sh*t that makes me crazy

Ok – fair warning. I feel a rant post coming on.

So, a while back I find myself supposed to be working, but I check in to twitter for the first time in ages and see a #FoodD hashtag with some interesting tweets.

Now, I’m totally out of the loop regarding the goings-on in agriculture in the great wide world at the moment. Usually I work hard to stay informed; right now I’m too busy trying to actually farm to keep up on arguments about farming. Apparently there’s a big panel discussion going on and they’re getting my goat.

You can watch the dialogue at Food Dialogues website here.

Gah.

What the heck is the matter with people???? Seriously.

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a secure food-system : keeping seeds in the public domain

Food Advocacy Goal #2 : Keeping seeds in the public domain

From the very beginning of my interest in food-security, I realized that this was the scariest element of the assault on our food system. A handful of corporations control the majority of our food system.

For example, Monstanto alone owns:

  • 17 agricultural seed brands
  • 4 “traits, technologies & partnership” companies (whatever the hell that means)
  • 18 weed control brands
  • 2 vegetable seed brands
  • 4,000 individual vegetable seed varieties representing 20 species of vegetables

As if that’s not scary enough, they are aggressive about protecting their business interests.

Monsanto has sued farmers for patent infringement when pollen from their GMO crops CONTAMINATED the farmers field.  Monsanto also sues farmers who save seeds. You can see Monsanto’s explanation for why they sue here. Here’s some more scary details about Monsanto’s policies to protect their patents.

Why do they have the right to patent the seeds of life?

We’re not talking about owning a chicken or a backyard full of tomato plants. We’re talking about genetic code, the very building blocks of life.

The arrogance is staggering.

Thank goodness there is a bit of light in this insanity, right here at home in Canada! Percy Schmeiser took on Monsanto and won!

What can I do to keep seeds in public hands?

Although the patenting of seeds is one of the scariest assaults on our food security and food sovereignty with the widest, most serious implications, it’s also one of the easiest problems to address.

Simple.

Grow heirloom varieties. Save your own seeds. Plant them. Enjoy them.

Share them.

Sharing is the most rebellious, political act you can undertake in a paradigm in which sharing is on par with treason. Really, I guess sharing IS a kind of corporate treason.

See, don’t you feel rebellious??

heirloom tomato

Heirloom seeds are essential to our food security for a ridiculous number of reasons.

Open-pollinated seeds, unlike hybrid seeds or GMO seeds, can be saved year after year and have the plant come true to the parent.

Instead of splicing frog genes or something equally ridiculous into the seed’s genes to “improve” them, a farmer can select for the tastiest, strongest, healthiest plants and gradually improve his crop year after year.

It doesn’t take any money, or a degree in bio-chem. All it takes is observation, patience and little bit of practical knowledge.

Saving seeds from your garden selects for a crop that will become uniquely suited to your particular location and micro-climate. We grow tomatoes from seeds saved by my mum’s neighbour, Ed, and his tomatoes are invariably the last ones standing in our damp fall garden. They are strong, productive, healthy and most importantly – delicious.

In our own little garden here in Vancouver we have a virtual Noah’s Ark of genetic material. From critically endangered Chantecler chickens to two dozen varieties of heirloom tomatoes, we are saving and sharing that genetic information for future generations, and enjoying some wicked toasted tomato sandwiches in the meantime.

Who knows what cancer-fighting compound might be found in the genes of these tomatoes? What health benefits, what pest-resistence, disease-resistance . . .

We can’t know. Isn’t that worth saving?

If you really want to get serious about saving seeds and being a local genetic diversity hero, keep an eye on your local community centres for seed swaps in late winter, find your local Seedy Saturday event, or join Seeds of Diversity. Don’t have one close by? Start your own! All it takes is a few seeds changing hands between neighbours to help keep our invaluable seeds in the public domain.