Tuesday, October 8, 2013


There are better writers, certainly, who could summarize what I am about to say more eloquently with a lot more wit and pizzazz. I hope they do. And I hope many ears are ready to listen and act.

But because I am both frustrated and devastated, I thought I would add my voice to the mix.

Today it was announced a Monsanto executive won the prestigious World Food Prize or “the Nobel Prize of Agriculture”. This award is “an international award recognizing the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world” [1].

Maybe this means nothing to you but I hope it will because it absolutely affects you.

In case you don’t know who Monsanto is, they’re the brains behind Round-Up, the oh-so-popular herbicide sold in every garden and food store across the country [and DDT and agent orange and PCBs and on and on]. They are also responsible for creating seeds resistant to Round-Up; the leader in fact, in producing genetically engineered seeds.

And, in order to grow their seed you must use their herbicide and vice versa. A brilliant business plan some would say.

However, because we have gotten to a mono-crop agricultural system [think corn, soy, and wheat], a demand by large farmers has been created for a seed able to withstand the herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides necessary to grow crops at the scale we do today. And, because we are a nation in quite a powerful spot, this seed and herbicide can be widely distributed to the less powerful countries now dependent on our business and seed and herbicide.

So what was once a brilliant business idea has now become a monopoly on global food crops. A monopoly taking actions to limit competition [think buy-out, small farm lawsuits, patented seed, etc.].

Something apparently illegal in the United States.

Unless, of course, you know the right people and have the correct amout of change because really, it’s all about the Benjamin’s baby.

And today this form of commerce was just given an award. A very prestigious award.

Simply put, we just rewarded monopoly – the very thing we rightly should stand against.


Because when one person or country or organization or business grows large enough to dictate what we do and do not eat, what is available and becomes unavailable, what genes get modified and what don’t – I get nervous.

Yet we support it every single day.

You. Me. Everyone. We support it with our dollars, with our influence as consumers, and with our voice [or lack thereof].

And now we support it with awards.

Biodiversity is the key to a sustainable healthy world, yet an estimated 60,000 to 100,000 plant species are threatened with extinction [2].

In the last century, 75% of agricultural biodiversity has been lost [3].

These aren’t plants with big names found in the rainforest somewhere. These are plants we rely on as food.

And by the by, the loss of biodiversity is essentially irreversible – we can’t bring diversity within our food system back once it’s been lost. And we’re losing big time.

I’m not okay with this.

I hope you’re not okay with this.

I hope it makes you mad - like red-faced, fists balled, blow steam out your ears mad.

Because it should.

And I hope it leads you to action.

I hope you use your power as a consumer to give voice to the powerless, the ignorant, the speechless and hopeless. I hope you write your congress people, and your Facebook friends, and the President. I hope you talk about it in the grocery store and at the Farmer’s Market, at church and the bank and the bar.

I hope you get mad and then you get moving because fighting for justice is powerful. More powerful than a company fighting to control the global food system and winning awards for it. Fight with your dollars and your votes and the choices you make regarding food each day.

Because there's hope. And there's beauty in groups of people coming together to fight for what's right. Not just for us but for all. We can make change happen.

May you use your voice and change the world.



Understanding biodiversity and its importance:


dinny said...

Tina, I think you have very eloquently put what needs to be shouted and explained to all. thanks!

dinny said...
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