Wicked, wicked problems

In the readings this week the role of the government and self regulated big agri businesses (e.g. Monsanto) were constantly mentioned. In the article Our Coming Food Crisis, mention is made of America’s looming food crisis, the known solutions, and the efforts to block  the implementation of these strategies. In the article The Food Movement- Its Power + Possibilities, I once again noticed the role of Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta in our food system. 

So, we learned that the rising high temperatures that have plagued the US’ agricultural lands is causing a food shortage that will develop into a crisis if it not addressed, now. There is a decrease in production of certain crops and increase in the cost of what is produced – with this cost being passed on to the consumer. Knowledgable farmers and ranchers (through their years of being experts in their respective fields) have proposed implementing time-tested strategies, which can be taught to all farmers to curtail the looming crisis. The issue is that advocacy groups are blocking the federal effort to promote these strategies. The strategies include:

  • using compost to lock carbon and moisture into the soil. Compost that can be obtained from cities, thereby also reducing ethanol emissions.
  • Removing bureaucratic hurdles that prevent farmers from using “gray water” for irrigation.
  • Transitioning to forms of perennial agriculture that locks carbon into the soil. Production of these perennial crops uses less fossil fuels. — a win win, right!
  • Address the seed crisis by directing money to seed collection and distribution. With the destruction of crops in drought related disasters, the seed supply is dwindling. Monsanto et al has seeds, however…

Instead of seriously taking these solutions into consideration — ignoring the politics of not doing so — the government seems to be waiting until the crisis worsens to address it. At that time it would be too late. Why have they taken this stance? Is it because of the control that corporations like Monsanto have? I do not understand this.

I asked myself the following questions:

  1. Are farmers aware of their roles?
  2. Are they empowered to lead in the fixing of the food system?
  3. How have they rallied in support of these climate change strategies?
  4. How many of them are in the business solely for financial gain bestowed upon them by insurance payments?
  5. Where are our “best farmers and ranchers” that can lend their hand in teaching the time-tested strategies to overcome the climate change effects!?
  6. Are they being silenced?

I read this week that Venezuela is out of food. Do we want this to happen in the US? The food system being controlled by the government — farmers being forced to sell their produce at ridiculous prices thereby leading to a reduction in the production of food, etc. Here is a brief summary of the events that took place leading up to this crisis (heads up: there are religious references toward the end — I included the video as I know most folks prefer not to read!). There are many similarities to the US’ food system. It is frightening!

What is really going on here? Enter my conspiracy thoughts of the intention to control the world population by controlling its food supply…reminds me of the bible reference to the mark of the beast…Well, I needed to wrap my head around this Monsanto influence on the US government. Why are they being allowed to behave in this way that WE deem morally reprehensible?

Monsanto’s ties to the US government is deeply rooted in the Vietnam war. Agent Orange was manufactured for the U.S. Department of Defense primarily by Monsanto Corporation and Dow Chemical. It was given its name from the color of the orange-striped barrels in which it was shipped, and was by far the most widely used of the so-called “Rainbow Herbicides”. Agent Orange was a powerful mixture of chemical defoliants used by U.S. military forces during the Vietnam War to eliminate forest cover for North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops, as well as crops that might be used to feed them. The U.S. military sprayed the crops of the Vietnamese with this chemical. The fallout was catastrophic! Many children were born deformed, those that were stillborn showed signs of deformity as well. U.S. troops exposed to this were also affected.

Now, agent orange had to be reused in some way — Round Up! Read: How agent orange is still used today. Stefani mentioned this in class many times but the effects never resonated until now. This product was created by the same company responsible for the birth defects of a generation of Vietnamese. Those same practices go into making genetically modified seeds and food created in their labs — which is given the EPA’s green light. However, the EPA approved a herbicide with a component used in agent orange to be used in growing genetically engineered soy and corn. This leaves me perplexed. What about our children? These companies own most of the world’s seeds making us dependent upon them, right. States are being sued when they try to inform their residents about the harmful cancer causing properties of products (California sued by Monsanto for labeling Round Up as a carcinogen).  Yet, we trust them to produce the food that we consume? The bigger question is why are they being allowed to?

I would like to believe that the food movement would totally collapse the current food system. I would like to believe that there is strength in numbers and that positive change can come about – that we can crush the Monsanto’s of the world and reclaim ownership of our food supply — but the system is not set up to allow us to achieve anything. How do we overcome this one?


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