Friday, May 1, 2009

HR 875

Monsanto and HR 875, Take Two

Just when I was losing faith in the internet as a tool for dialogue and change, along comes Nonny Mouse and C&L with an invite to Monsanto to respond to all this silliness on HR 875. It’s a strange new world, but a welcome one.

As Nonny Mouse has pointed out, Monsanto has nothing to do with HR 875. We aren’t behind it and don’t even have a position on it. You can read about this in detail in our blog. In fact, contrary to rampant, poorly-informed opinion; Monsanto doesn’t consider local agriculture, or even organic agriculture, as a threat to our business. Readers will likely be surprised to learn that many of our customers work small farms. Some are even growing organically (not all our seeds are GM).

HR 875, for those who are understandably lost in the debate, is intended to improve US food safety laws. Given relatively recent incidents involving peanut butter, ground beef and spinach, there are a lot of Americans who think it’s high time. The true tragedy of all this rumor-mongering about HR 875 and its supposed attack on local and organic agriculture is that it has distracted people from the discussion that should be occurring – how can we improve food safety without putting undue burden on small farms and businesses that want to sell and process food locally?

In many ways, this whole HR 875 incident is a pretty good microcosm for the larger debate about the role of biotechnology in agriculture. True dialogue and discussion suffers because of rumor, misinformation and petty bickering. Constructive discourse around agricultural biotechnology pales when compared to the amount of argument. Something like a third of the population is without sufficient food at any given point in time. You would think this would be impetus enough to put aside differences of opinion and chart a course forward, but apparently it’s not.

representative of Monsanto, Mr. Bradley Mitchell

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