Posts Tagged ‘monsanto’

We are Winning

  There is a famous quote from Gandhi that goes: First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. Well, I am here today to tell you good people that we are winning.

When the Maine State Legislature considers and the Agriculture committee passes several bills that reinforce the rights of farmers to sell their goods face-to-face with their patrons. We are winning.

When Joel Salatin, a hero of the food sovereignty movement, flies in from Virginia for the day to testify to our Legislators in favor of a state constitutional amendment establishing the people’s inalienable right to food. We are winning.

When 13 towns, and counting, in the state have passed the Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance. Reinforcing the right of people to participate in traditional food-ways. We are winning.

When the average age of farmers in Maine continues to fall and farmers from around the country are moving to Maine because of the great work they see us doing to rebuild the local food infrastructure. We are winning.

When two of the largest employers in central Maine, Fedco and Johnny’s, are organic seed companies. We are winning.

When the number of food cooperatives in the state more than doubles in less than five years. We are winning.

When we succeed in shortening the food chain because of a four times increase in the number of farmers markets, the rapid growth of the Community Supported Agriculture movement, food hubs and wonderful distributors like Crown of Maine Organic Cooperative. We are winning.

When the FDA becomes so concerned about the local food rights movement in our state that they not only send Mr. Monsanto himself, Michael Taylor, to speak to farmers in Maine but they also open a third field office in a state of 1.3 million people. We are winning.

When national organizations like National Family Farm Coalition, The Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund, Food and Water Watch and the Organic Consumers Association are so impressed with the progress we are making in Maine that they offer logistical and financial help to further our work. We are winning.

When the national headquarters for the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association is in our state. We are winning.

When John Oliver spends a whole segment of Last Week Tonite excoriating the way contract chicken farmers are used and abused by the big poultry processing companies like Tyson. And his New York City audience reacts with horror. We are winning.

When Neil Young records a whole album of pro-farmer, anti-Monsanto songs, “The Monsanto Years”. We are winning.

When the deal to buy Syngenta, a deal that would have further consolidated the ownership of the world’s seed-stock into Monsanto’s hands, falls through. We are winning.

We are blessed to be living in a state with a strong agricultural tradition supported by the 11,000 members of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association and small, nimble non-profits like Food for Maine’s Future and Local Food Rules. A state that may well be one of the climate change winners as far as access to water and arable land goes. A state with a long, and recent, tradition of activism, self-governance, and self-sufficiency.

We are winning folks.   



Beekeepers Vs. Monsanto



Went to the Maine State Beekeepers Association annual meeting this past Saturday.   It was, as always, a wonderful informative, entertaining day.   On the organic beekeeping listserve that I belong to this came today.   I am sharing it to show that you do NOT want to mess with a bunch of riled up Beeks.

A Mexican judge won’t be bought off by the giant biotech company, Monsanto—
instead he honored the complaints of small bee-keepers and will stall the
growing season for Monsanto’s GM soybeans in Yucatán.
Published: October 20, 2014 | Authors: _Christina Sarich_
( | _Natural Society_
( | News Report

Honoring the complaints of a small group of beekeepers in the state of
Yucatán, who complained that Monsanto’s planned planting of thousands of
hectares of GM soybeans made to withstand RoundUp would demolish their honey
industry by decimating bees – a judge in Mexico has removed Monsanto’s
planting permit. Monsanto can install Clarence Thomas on the U.S.00 Federal Judge
circuit after working for their corporation, an obvious conflict of
interest, but it looks like a Mexican judge won’t be bought off by biotech.
Though _Monsanto will surely appeal the ruling_
( , it will at least stall the growing season and give
the bee-keepers time to gather additional support for their cause.
A district has overturned a permit issued to Monsanto by Mexico’s
agriculture ministry, Sagarpa, and environmental protection agency, Semarnat, back
in June 2012 that allowed commercial planting of _RoundUp-ready soybeans_
s.aspx) .
If the permit had been honored, Monsanto would have been able to plant
seeds in seven states, covering more than 253,000 hectares of land. (This
amounts to almost a million acres.) Mayan farmers, beekeepers, and activist
groups like Greenpeace, the Mexican National Commission for the Knowledge and
Use of Biodiversity, the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas,
and the National Institute of Ecology have been vocally protesting this
The judge was apparently convinced that the scientific data showing a link
between RoundUp, GMOs, and lowered honey production is very real. The
Yucatán peninsula grows vasts amounts of honey, and in fact is the third
largest exporter of honey to the world. The area includes Campeche, Quintana Roo,
and Yucatán states. More than 25,000 families build their livelihoods on
honey production. Almost all of the honey grown there is exported to the EU
and amounts to over $54 million in Mexican money annually.
The judge ruled that honey production and GM soybeans could not co-exist.
In addition to known health risks posed by GMO crops and the herbicides
used to grow them, there is also _environmental damage_
-health-and-the-environment/) to soil, water, and _bee colonies which are
( fast. There are also long term changes to the
ecosystems where GMOs are grown.
Since _a landmark decision in 2011_
( by the European court of justice
banned GM crop imports, GMO honey would likely not be accepted – similar
to how Syngenta’s GMO corn strains are now being refused in China when
exported from the U.S.
The ruling determined that honey derived from a GM crop would be
unapproved for human consumption.
This follows an _inaugural study conducted in Campeche_
( , where about 10,000
hectares of GM soybeans were planted after Monsanto’s permit was approved in
2012. GM pollen _was found_
in some honey samples destined for the European market.
Since bees pollinate vast tracts of land and could contaminate other crops
besides the GM crops planted, GM soy plantings also have more exponential
probability to cause damage.
The _Monsanto ruling was commended_
( by the respected national newspaper La Jornada, which
accused the Mexican government of ignoring widespread concerns over GMOs and
forcing bee keepers to fight it out in court with powerful multinational
companies who have deep pockets to make legal battles go on at length.
Central to the ruling was the Mexican constitution, specifically the
government’s obligation to fully consult indigenous communities before making
any major decision about what happens to their land and food.
It’s too bad our own governments have long overlooked the people’s wishes
regarding GM crops in the U.S.

The FDA Strikes Again!

Okay, it is Saturday night after a looonnnngggg week at Fedco Trees and an active day of wood-splitting, bee-feeding and maple-tree-tapping but I have to write about this one whether I’m exhausted or not.   The Food and Drug Administration has decided that it hasn’t pissed off enough farmers lately with the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA).  An act designed by Monsanto to put small farmers out of business.   Now it is going to make the lives of small livestock owners and brewers more difficult by not allowing an age-old form of recycling.   This is what the Portland Press Herald had to say about the practice:”Maine’s craft brewers and farmers have had a standing agreement for years: After the brewers take malt sugars and flavors from various grains, farmers get the leftovers as cheap, protein-rich feed for their livestock. The breweries offload a waste product without paying to process it or putting it in a landfill.”   Sounds like something that makes a lot of sense, right?   Well the FDA is not getting much of a reputation for common sense these days.

As the mother of a talented amateur brewer who aspires to own a micro-brewery some day and as the owner of a small flock of laying hens, who are damn expensive to feed these days, this pisses me off on two levels.  I wish there were a brewery close enough by to provide me with this nutritious and delicious waste product.  And I hope that this sensible form of reuse will be available to my son if and when he opens up his own brewery (his Maple Syrup Porter alone will support the place, it is that good).  But not if the FDA has its way.  “The agency plans to require brewers to treat the byproduct as animal feed, meaning it would have to be dried and packaged before being fed to animals, or dumped in landfills.”    More expense, more regulation, more $$$ for someone, obviously.   But not  for the small struggling farmer or the people who make the stuff that proves that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

Way to go FDA.   Keep it up.   Keep adding more and more onerous regulations to the FSMA rules and you’ll find yourself with a full on farmers revolt on your hands.  And pissed off beer drinkers, too!

NPR Discovers Kale

Beedy's Camden KaleI was standing in my kitchen the other day.   Doing dishes, listening to NPR and basking in the glow of knowing that the Supreme Court may consider the OSGATA VS. Monsanto seed patent suit.    Pubpat has asked the high court to hear the case.

Anyhow, it was a beautiful fallish morning in Maine and I was happy.   But that is not what made me almost fall on the floor laughing.    Soon after the good news on the OSGATA lawsuit on All Things Considered the host spent over eight minutes on what you might be lead to believe was a newly discovered vegetable: KALE.   It made my day.   That is a lot of national radio real estate to give over to this humble plant.   I was very impressed.


Personally I love kale and have for years.   I braise it with some garlic and onions from my garden and a little local sunflower oil.  I grow a great variety called Beedy’s Camden Kale developed by a woman I know, Beedy Parker, specifically for growing in our local climate.  It is well adapted to my growing season and soil.   Truly local food.  The seeds are sold by a local worker’s co-operative, Fedco, and guaranteed no GMOs!  The two stories were a great synergy for improving my general outlook on life as we slog along trying to keep it legal to grow our own, save our own seeds and breed plants that grow well where we live.


And the NPR audience got introduced to kale.   All in all a good day!



Lyme Disease or the FSMA. Which is Worse?

The future of Farmer’s Markets under the FSMA?

So much to talk about after being absent for a while recovering from Lyme Disease.   Yes, thank you global warming, there is an epidemic of Lyme in Maine this summer and I, careful as I am, got bit.  Two months of either extreme pain, terrible fatigue or feeling like my mind had turned to Swiss cheese.   I would not wish it on my worst enemy.   Fortunately I have an excellent primary care provider who treated me promptly and I am well on my way to recovery.

So, enough about me.   What is going on in the world of food politics?   Weeeeelllllllll, the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 (FSMA) is what.    Last Monday, the 19th, those of us  farmer types who could trooped down to the armory in Augusta to confront the devil himself, Mr. Monsanto, Michael Taylor in his guise as a Deputy Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner.   Don’t let the seeming reasonableness of his blog post fool you.   this guy does not like, care about or plan to help in any way, small farmers.


Okay, get this, Mike came with a posse.   We counted as many as 20 FDA staffers in his entourage.   Your tax dollars at work.    Staffers who refused to even speak with some of our elected representatives.    Evidently Maine has these folks scared.   Word on the street is that they are opening a THIRD!!!!! FDA office here in our tiny (under 2 million population), rural state because the local food sovereignty movement is so strong here.


Yes, we actually did pass a few of the local food bills through the legislature last year and some of them even got signed into law.    And as much as Mike tries to reassure us that most of the FSMA’s regulations will not apply to our farms because we are so small, it is difficult to believe people whom we KNOW are in the hip pockets of BIG agribusiness.   The lobby that wants to suck all the air out of the room for small farmers so that we are all totally dependent on them for our food.    Dangerous, chemical, monoculture food.   Mr. Monsanto bowing to his corporate masters.

Anyhow down we travelled and spent, as I called it in my testimony, (if you look quick in the linked video you will see me testifying, AMEN sister!) a beautiful haymaking August morning inside telling the government to leave us alone, get out of our business, let Maine feed Maine!!!

Or as Nanny Kennedy put it so eloquently “You know what we’ve figured out here in Maine?   If you poison or kill your customers, it’s damn hard to stay in business.”

Even the amazing Mr. Timberlake is on our side now that he has discovered that it is going to hit the bottom line of his apple business.   I’ve been saying it a lot lately this movement is making for some strange bedfellows.

More, so much more, later.    So glad to have my energy and my brain back.  Cheers!


Shame on you Nell Newman!

I serve on the board of directors of my local food co-op.    We have several times  discussed trust.   The trust that our members put in the staff and management to “pre-screen” all the food that is on our shelves.   Many, as one member recently told us, people shop there thinking that they don’t have to read labels because they assume that we have weeded out the GMOs and other stuff that is bad for you and are not stocking or selling it.   That is sadly not the case but with the revamping of the purchasing policy committee it may soon become closer to reality.

I, however, am a compulsive label reader and since I had the inside story that not everything in the store is pre-screened I often took a look at the labels of things I bought trusting, foolish me, that labels don’t lie.    Newman-O’s are one of my favorite treats and I have purchased them often.   Never did I notice that the canola oil did not say “organic canola oil.”

Well, we all know from our long fight against GMOs that no conventional canola oil in the country is GMO-free.    If you want non-GMO canola oil you have to buy organic and that is getting tougher and tougher to find because our friend Monsanto has managed to pretty thoroughly contaminate all the canola seed in the country with the genetically manipulated crap.

So here is a heads up from Cornucopia News.   Read it and weep.   And then might I recommend that you do what I plan to do:  stop buying all Newman’s Own products in protest.   Once again my purchased food options shrink.   Hell of a thing!

Cornucopia News

Have You Been Defrauded? Help Bring Organic Scammers to Justice

June 27th, 2013

Have you been duped?  Ever purchased Newman’s Own Organics or Organic Bistro Products?

Newman OHave you purchased Newman’s Own Organics or Organic Bistro food products?  If so, you may have been deceived into buying food that is not actually certified organic.

We are investigating claims that certain companies are getting away with using the word ‘organic’ in their company name, listed prominently on food packages, even if the product they’re selling isn’t certified organic and does not legally qualify as organic.

As an example, not all Newman’s Own Organics products are actually certified organic.  Newman’s Own Organics Newman-O’s cookies contain conventional canola oil and conventional cocoa.  Their ginger cookies are made with conventional ginger.

Similarly, Organic Bistro (in the process of being rebranded ‘Artisan Bistro’) sells frozen entrees made with some organic vegetables, but uses non-organic chicken and turkey (the number one ingredient by weight in some of their products).

The law is clear: in order to prominently label products “organic” on the front panel, a company must have between 95% and 100% organic ingredients (the balance being minor materials that have been checked for safety and are not available in organic form).  If some certified organic ingredients are used (a minimum of 70%), the label can (in modest size typeface) claim “made with organic vegetables,” as an example.

If you or someone you know has purchased Organic Bistro or Newman’s Own Organics products, we would like to hear from you.

We like to say that, “There is a higher power, in terms of watchdogging the integrity of organics, than the USDA.”  And that is you – the organic consumer.

So today (7/1/13) in my email is this clarification (I wrote back, thanked her for the clarification, and noted that the theme of my post was the breaking of trust and the damage to the “organic” label):

Dear Betsy,

It is important to note here that the complaint we have with Newman’s is that the word “organic” is not permitted on the front of the package if it is only 70% organic or made with some organic ingredients only. If the product is “made with organic ingredients” it means that the remaining 30% follow certain rules, including no GMOs, no irradiation, no sewer sludge and only ingredients approved by the National Organic Standards Board.

Newman’s Organics has sneaked around the issue of not being able to put the word organic on the front of the package by including it in their brand name—a dirty trick. You are not eating GMO products in Newman O’s, but you are not getting a 100% organic product, as the name of the company (Newman’s Organic’s) implies.


I hope this helps,

Melody Morrell

Melody Morrell
Associate Membership Coordinator
The Cornucopia Institute

Hurrah for Connecticut!

Our "Label GMOs" Crowd at the Maine State House

Our “Label GMOs” Crowd at the Maine State House


Connecticut, today, became the first state to pass the GMO labeling bill.  Check out the whole story here.


And congress finally started considering the 2012 Farm Bill today.   More about that later.