by The Garden Goddess
ello fellow Earthlings, and wel- come to a brief serious column by your beloved Goddess. I am afraid Big Brother is sticking his nose where it doesn't belong again and I wanted you all to know about it before it was decided without your having some influence. So let's take a stroll in the world that Monsanto runs.
Oprah Winfrey is an unlikely hero of the battle against big business. Yet the case she won last month, in which she established her right to express an opinion about the merits of eating beef burgers, ranks with the McDonald's libel trial as one of the few serious setbacks suffered by the agro-industrial combines seeking to monopolize world food production.
She had been sued by a syndicate of monster cattle ranchers, under the surreal "food disparagement" laws introduced in 14 American states to prevent people from questioning such practices as feeding bovine offal to cows. These laws are a compelling demonstration of the lengths to which U.S. legislators will go to defend the interests of corporations against the interests of the citizen.
Winfrey might have won her battle, but the war waged by an industry that can tolerate no dissent has only just begun. Its latest attempt to silence criticism and eliminate good practice is already well-advanced.
At the end of April, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will close its consultations on a new national standard for organic farming. Its proposals have horrified small farmers, consumer groups and animal welfare campaigners. If adopted and implemented as protesters predict, they will outlaw genuine organic production all over the world.
The USDA would allow fruit and vegetables to be labeled "organic" in the United States which have been genetically engineered, irradiated, treated with additives and raised on contaminated sewage sludge. Under the new proposals, "organic" livestock can be confinement raised, fed with the offal of other animals and injected with antibiotics. "Organic" produce, in the brave new world of American oligopoly, will be virtually indistinguishable from conventionally-toxic food.
The solution would seem to be obvious: genuine organic producers should call their food something else. But the USDA is nothing if not farsighted. The new proposals prohibit the setting of standards higher than those established by the department. Farmers will, in other words, be forbidden by law from producing and selling good food.
There's no mystery about why U.S. agribusiness wants its Washington subsidiary, the USDA, to set these new standards. The consumption of organic food is rising by 20 to 30 percent per year and, in some countries, is likely to become the dominant land use. Organic farming is labor intensive. It responds best to small-scale production, matched to the peculiarities of the land.
Big business simply can't operate in an environment like this. There is no potential for hegemony. What it can't control, it must destroy. The United States government claims to be the champion of free trade, but it is, in truth, emphatically opposed to it. It seeks instead to exercise a coercive power of central control and legislative totalitarianism.
Here are 6 ways that you can help keep "Organic" organic:
1. Ask the USDA to rewrite the rules
Write the USDA a personal letter (or email) and tell them how important it is to develop standards that encourage environmental stewardship and a safe food supply. Mention that the rewritten rules must adhere to the requirements of the Organic Food Production Act of 1990 and to the principles consistently used by organic farmers. The deadline for letters is April 30, 1998. There are several ways to get your message to the USDA, each of them is listed at the end of this article.
Consider including the following points in your letter:
2. Send a copy of your letter
To President Clinton. Vice President Gore, and your U.S. Senators and Representatives.
3. Contact the Media
Send letters to editors requesting stories on this subject.
4. Share this article
Give it to a friend that has an interest in maintaining trust in their organic produce.
5. Continue to buy organic food
Support your local farmer's market or store. It is the highest quality food on the market today and will remain so when this rule is rewritten.
6. Make this issue a topic of discussion
Discuss it at gatherings, the gym, coffee house or just sitting at the beach. The more it is talked about, the more people will listen.
|Send a letter to the USDA. Be sure to include the docket number in your comment:. Docket #TMD-94-00-2. Mail to:|
USDA National Organic Standards
Email from their website at www.ams.usda.gov/nop. There will be instructions for sending comments.
Send a message to the President:
|Send a message to the Vice President|
(it's been said that the Veep actually answers his)
|Reach your Senator or Congressman Write to:|
U.S. House of Representatives
|Some of the contents of this article were taken from the London Guardian and the Save Organic website. It is distributed without profit. If you would like to reach The Goddess, give her a call toll-free at (888) 514-4004 or email her at gdngodsmill.net. Next month we will continue with some really great information on your vegetable gardens. Come up and see me sometime.|