Wednesday, March 25, 2009

HR 875 and Seeds

Here is a nice article written by Linn Cohen-Cole that gives some good insight as to why HR 875, as it is currently worded, will put the hurt on organic farmers, farmers' markets, backyard gardeners, etc. It also helps to bring the "rumors" about how Monsanto and other large agribusiness entities will benefit from this legislation into better perspective. It's all about the seeds...

What follows is an excerpt and you can click the link at the bottom of this post for the entire article:

... (3) include with respect to growing, harvesting, sorting,and storage operations, minimum standards related to fertilizer use, nutrients, hygiene, packaging, temperature controls, animal encroachment... and water;

Ah, such a little paragraph, and so much evil packed in it. Notice they mention harvesting, sorting and storage operations? Notice they never mention seeds but they are precisely what those words cover.

Now, watch how they will be able to easily criminalize seed banking and all holding of seeds. First, to follow how this will be done, you must understand that:

1.there is a small list inside the FDA called "sources of seed contamination" and

2.the FDA has now defined "seed" as food, seeds can now be controlled through "food safety."

Those seeds (so far) include:

seeds eaten raw such as flax, poppy sesame, etc.;
sprouting seeds such as wheat, beans, alfalfa, most greens, etc.;
seeds pressed into oils such as corn, sunflower, canola, etc.;
seeds used as animal feed such as soy ....

That is most seeds. It may even be all seeds, given how they are skilled at new definitions.

And what are the "sources of seed contamination" inside the FDA? They include only six little items:

agricultural water
manure (but not chemical pesticides or fertilizers)
harvesting, transporting and seed cleaning (sorting) equipment
seed storage (storing) facilities

Did you know that seed cleaning equipment is THE single most critical piece of equipment for sustainable agriculture? It is how we collect organic seed. It is the machinery used after the season, when plants "go to seed," to separate out (sort) the seeds from the plant material so the farmer can collect (harvest) and then save (put in storage) seed for the next year at little cost. With his own seed, the farmer also stays free of patented, genetically engineered, corporately privatized seeds.

This year, 2009, one item on the "sources of seed contamination" list is suddenly illegal in some parts of this country - seed cleaning equipment.

To get the drift, perhaps you need to know that the people who clean seed are being wiped out, as well.

How can they make such vital equipment illegal? Quietly, first of all, so as not to alert organic farmers who have a lot of political ties. And by saying it contaminates food. And by applying their innocent and reasonable sounding "minimum standards."

"Contaminate" is their favorite word since the public fears the deadly contamination that industry itself - not farmers - has caused. That fear is valuable. Scare the public and it is easy to get "food safety standards" set without anyone reading them. 39 progressive co-sponsors leap on, thinking this is about "food safety." But it is only about the use of "food safety," not the reality of it

For to eliminate seed cleaning equipment, the FDA simple set minimum "food safety" standards for seed cleaning (the simple separation of seed from plant) such that a farmer would need a million to a million and a half dollar building and/or equipment to meet the new requirements ... per line of seed.

On the ground, where reality lives, a farmer in the Midwest who has been seed cleaning flax for 40 years with his hand made seed cleaner now can't sell his flax on the market anymore. Never mind there are NO instances of anyone ever having gotten sick from seed cleaning equipment. And a farmer in another part of the Midwest who has been cleaning wheat, corn and soy for years with one single perfectly fine piece of equipment would now need three to four and half million dollars for three separate pieces of equipment, in order to satisfy the "food safety" standards.

Seeds - How to Criminalize Them, by Linn Cohen-Cole

1 comment:

  1. hey! I just mis-posted under the march 11th entry! Just a note about backlash and aggravation over these issues while the vagueness and insidiousness creeps on. Looks like Linn Cohen-Cole is being put in the cross-hairs, but after reading and rereading the proposed bits and reams of commentary on them, I see the same corporate hands at work as usual.

    I imagine that people may poo-poo the idea that these bills have anything but public safety in mind, but that is because they have no idea what they are up against.