Today we’ll take a break from the gmo/science obsession and turn to the arena of actual politics. A friend posted this photo on Facebook:
Here’s what I think is a flaw in progressive logic.
Where do your priorities lie? Which is stronger, your hatred of the rich or your desire to put one million people back to work? If the Democrats passed this bill, even with that odious rider, one million people get jobs tomorrow.
If you pass the law with the rider intact, you can always go back and revisit the tax cut issue and vote it down at a later date. If you don’t pass it, how does that help the one million unemployed people? They remain out of work and those rich people stay rich, even without the tax cut extension.
So, if you stand on principle and your sense of fairness and refuse to allow a vote on the bill, who really wins?
“These passionate, informed people didn’t even need to ask what dihydrogen Monoxide is. They didn’t even ask. Man, there were a lot of people who signed the petition. We’re not talking a handful of dopes, we’re talking hundreds.”
In April of this year, a lawsuit commenced aimed at stopping the Panoche Valley Solar Farm. The plant is situated in the Panoche Valley, 130 miles southeast of San Francisco. The suit was brought by environmentalists who claim the plant will harm the endangered blunt-nosed lizard and kangaroo rat.
“Solar obviously is very critical. No one disputes the necessity for solar energy,… The issue here is that it is improper on this site.”
That reasoning seems to be the mantra any time anyone wants to build a solar power plant. Okay if not there, then where? Every time some company wants to build a solar power plant, wherever they want to build it is not the proper place. So, again, where?
Environmental groups demand study after study on environmental impacts. And then even when they get their study, if it doesn’t agree with their stance they demand more. Environmentalists are more of a impediment to adopting renewable energy than the right wing loonies
In 2011, construction finally began on the Topaz Solar Project, a 500-megawatt solar power plant in San Luis Obispo County, California. Environmentalists opposed that one as well.
Wind farms? Another tree-hugger fave rave. Or they used to be. After agitating for wind farms for years they are now, in many cases against them.
A proposal to build a wind farm on the Canadian shore of Lake Ontario has created an uproar among people worried about birds and wildlife.
Nature Canada members worry that wind turbines will threaten already endangered birds like Henslow’s sparrows. Photo: U.S. Geological Survey
The environmental group heading the opposition, Nature Canada, opposes the location at Ostrander Point because it is in the middle of an important bird area. (Great Lakes Echo)
These fights are going on all over the country
I’ve got some news for these biodiversity birdbrains, the types of renewable energy they champion do not come environmentally cheap. They will have an impact of the environment. There is no such thing as an energy source that is 100% environmentally neutral. They’re living in some utopian fantasyland.
Here’s the interesting part of the story. It’s not the big name environmental organizations fighting these projects. It’s smaller localized groups. The big guys have stayed away from the fray having experienced major cognitive dissonance. They want to save the environment, but understand that we need renewable energy as well. They advocate a more pragmatic approach.
What is the reaction of these groups, many of whom are rank and file members of the Big Eco? Why they sold out, of course.
Both wind and solar take up a bunch of real estate. That’s a fact. Environmentalists have to discard their unrealistic belief system and be more pragmatic. We need to decrease our dependence on fossil fuels, but the very people who scream loudest about it are the ones who are making it the hardest to implement alternative energy.
Idealists have to weigh the cost/risk/benefit. I understand that is anathema to an idealist. And how do I know this? I used to be that idealist. It was all or nothing, black and white. Then slowly I came to realize that positives comes with negatives. The idea is to weigh the positives against the negatives. If you want progress, that’s the deal.
We live in the real world where 100% is pure is fantasy. The closest we get is Ivory Soap which is only 99.44% pure.
Everybody likes Trader Joe’s. I like Trader Joe’s. People like it because of the affordable prices for organic foods and eclectic mix of products. But how do we know that Trader Joe’s is on the level about their products? After all, Joe’s is owned by a multi-national corporation that was headed by the 9th richest man in the world, the late Theo Albrecht, who owns the Aldi chain. We hate multi-national corporations, right?
Joe’s has a tight-lipped policy about who their suppliers are. On their website they assure customers they adhere to strict standards when it comes to their suppliers. On their website they claim they require their suppliers to:
…represent and warrant that the goods sold to TJ’s were produced, harvested, manufactured, processed, packaged, labeled, transported, delivered, and sold in compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations of the United States of America and all of its subdivisions and, if applicable, the laws of any other country, state, or international governing body… that the goods sold to TJ’s were not produced, harvested, manufactured, processed, packaged, labeled, transported, or delivered using forced or prison labor or forced or illegal child labor
Great. But there is no way to find out for sure because they won’t release who their suppliers are. Organic consumers want to know where their food comes from. So why do they give Joe’s a pass? What does Joe have to hide? Big noise is being made in California about the right-to-know which foods are GMO. Why don’t organic consumers demand the same from Joe? Could it be the eco-greenie folks don’t want to know that their beloved Trader Joe might be Traitor Joe? <snark off>
Joe’s fought efforts to force them to be more transparent with their supply chain. Back in 2010, the website Sustainable Industries wrote a lengthy piece on the company’s lack of transparency.
“There are only a few enlightened retailers out there who approach the retail food business in such a way that they’re able to capture value for sustainably produced products and Trader Joe’s is one of them,” says an anonymous source who has experience selling to the stores. “That said, they’re a professional sourcing company—no one does it better—and it’s easy for them to shift from, say, a sustainable product to a ‘like’ product that doesn’t necessarily embrace sustainability, and it’s all private-label so it’s hard to trace that.”
Back in 2007, the organic advocacy group, Cornucopia Institute confirmed that some of Joe’s milk came from factory farms.
Trader’s Joe’s is more than likely on the level. But the issue is not that. It’s about transparency for the people who care about that kind of thing.
In other Trader Joe’s news:
Joe’s is well-known for paying its workers twice the minimum wage, but for years they refused to sign and agreement that would give a penny-a-pound increase to the low paid field workers in Florida who picked their tomatoes. There were protests in front of many of the stores to pressure them to sign the agreement. They finally did sign it this past February. By contrast, chains such as Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Burger King and Whole Foods signed the agreement years ago.
Barry Estabrook, who wrote the book Tomatoland, told the Huffington Post that when he talked to Trader Joe’s in the fall of 2011, “he found the company’s attitude to be “almost belligerent” when a group of religious leaders tried to present it with a petition in October of last year.”
For some time I have been squawking about the frauds, charlatans and crackpots that are out in front on the Prop. 37 law in California.
One of my prime targets is the anti-vaccine Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Union. His group has ponied up over $600,000. In a recent “open letter” posted on the Common Dreams website, he gives up the real motivation behind this law. He begins by talking about organic sales only make up a measly 4.2% of the food pie. He wants that market share to grow. How?
The burning question for us all then becomes how – and how quickly – can we move healthy, organic products from a 4.2% market niche, to the dominant force in American food and farming?
The first step is to change our labeling laws.
He then continues peddling his anti-science nonsense. Basically, since the organic industry can’t compete with conventional and gmo, get a law passed that will scare people into abandoning their brands and choosing organic.
“Restoring consumers’ right to know, banning the industry practice of marketing GMO-tainted foods as “natural,” and starting to drive genetically engineered foods off supermarket shelves will not solve all of the life and death issues that are currently staring us in the face…”
But, the advocates say, it’s just about the right to know. A simple label. Right? Apparently not, according to Cummins. The goal is to cripple farmers who make the choice to use gmo seeds.
This won’t really shut down Monsanto and other big multi-nationals. It will hurt the farmers who made the choice to use gmo seeds. And not all farmers who use gmo are big factory farms.
I recently came across a project on Indiegogo that wanted to help a family organic farm in Maine build a repair shed for the farm equipment. Now this sounds like a worthwhile cause. Is it?
Here is the video. Watch it and see if anything sounds off to you. I will explain the problems I have with it. Yes, I am going after a small family farm.
The Gerritsens, Megan and Jim, who own the farm seem like nice people even though they look like they stepped out of the late 1800s. Actually Jim Gerritsen gives me creeps. Those eyes. He look like he could be a serial killer who uses his victims as fertilizer on his farm. Jim heads the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA), so it’s not like I’m criticizing some anonymous family farmers.
OSGATA has a continuing lawsuit against Monsanto regarding the possible contamination of organic crops by Monsanto’s gmo.
I came across a Gerritsenspeech re-posted on a blog called the deliberateagrarian. He writes, “In the early 1800s the first white settlers to Aroostook County started carving fields out of the forest and immediately began planting potatoes.” Well there ya go. I was right about the 1800s. Apparently they have channeled those dead farmers. And they don’t look too happy in that video.
The first white settlers? Uh-oh.
He continues: “Going back may generations everyone in Aroostook has worked in the fields picking potatoes. Many former farmers and non-farmers schedule vacation time so they can help family harvest their potato crop.
What century is this? People schedule their vacation time so they can do back-breaking labor? What part of vacation do these folks not understand?
We are one of the last areas in the United States where schools are still closed for Harvest Break so that kids can help farmers get their crop in.”
Yikes. Schools close so the kids can spend time working in the fields? Look at the video. He has his kids walking behind the wagon handpicking potatoes? They have machines that do that. And look at the size of those potatoes. They’re teeny. They’re 1800s potatoes. And this is an endangered tradition? Yeah, child labor is an endangered tradition for good reason.
The idea of progress is to lessen the need for manual labor, to make otherwise hard work easier. Hey, buy a used potato harvester.
In our potato culture there is universal belief that hard work and thrift are best learned at an early age by working in a potato field. This is an endangered tradition as increased potato mechanization reduces opportunities for both hand work and younger workers.”
I don’t know where to go with this one. We’re wading close to sect territory here. I agree that kids should learn about work, but that phrase, hard work and thrift are best learned at an early age by working in a potato field, has such an 1800s syntax to it. “Leave me be, Jebadiah!” Thrift? Who uses the word thrift anymore? An early age? How early?You can’t teach the same values by having kids do household chores? I am beginning to think this guy is a real oddball.
Historically, it is worth noting that subsequent to the Populist Movement of the late 1800s, the American farm economist Carl Wilkin in the 1930s concluded through his work developing the economic model known as Farm Parity that restrictions upon the size of large farms was necessary in order to ensure proper functioning of the economy, economic justice for farmers and broad benefits to the whole of society.
We’re back in the 1800s again.
Since its inception, the organic community has been a safe harbor for the American family farmer. However, corporate entry into organic production and marketing is now occurring at a rapid rate and its influence is being felt nationwide.
Ah, now it all becomes clearer. Organic is good, but only if done by small farmers. Large scale organic is bad. What guys like Gerritsen imagine is millions of tiny little family farms using way more land than larger conventional ones. The fact is, since organic needs more acreage to get the same yields as conventional, it is actually less environmentally friendly.
Since Jim is stuck in the late 1800s. Let look at the demographics. In 1890 there were 62,979,766 people in the U.S. In 2011 there were 313,232,000. Does he really believe the small family farm is able to feed that many people? You need larger and more efficient operations to supply the demand. And then there is the need for exports.
Agricultural exports are an important cog in the economy’s health. The U.S. is a net exporter. That’s a good thing. Does Jim believe that the family farm is up to exporting $155 billion worth of food?
As noble as their farm may be, Jim is delusional. My hope is he is an anomaly in the organic movement. I have this sneaking suspicion he isn’t
But I digress. Back to the video at hand.
I think the whole repair shed project is a is a big scam. There are so many red flags in that video, the major one being that some of the money will go to his group’s patent suit against Monsanto. While I whole heartedly agree with the fight against Monsanto, I have a problem with using weasly, dishonest tactics to raise funds.
Before I savage them more, let me tell you a bit about my background. I grew up a hick. My dad owned a grocery store in a small town in Pa. My uncles were steelworkers and farmers. My cousin owned a farm for a while where I spent countless hours as a teen baling hay, shoveling shit to take to the mushroom farm.
My area had a lot of farms. Dad bought a lot of his perishables locally. Corn from Whitaker’s, eggs from Steigerwalt’s, milk from Zimmerman’s dairy and meat from local slaughterhouses. But that was the 1960s. The farmers would eventually sell their farms as they got old because the kids had no interest in following in the family footsteps and live the hard life of a farmer.
Being a farmer sucks. Its hard work. But the one thing that farmers have done throughout history was immediately adopt new farming technology that would make their lives easier. That’s what I just don’t get about this organic movement. Labor intensive, inefficient farming methods to create a product that has little if any more nutritional value isn’t safer value than conventional foods.
But I digress… again. Let’s look at what was said in the video:
First claim: They need specialized, vintage equipment to grow their organic crops. Jesus H. Christ in a chicken basket. No, they don’t. More modern equipment will work just as well.
I contacted my brother who is a full on Oliver tractor freak. I told him the model and in the video and he said it was easy to get used tractors from that time in good shape for maybe around $10k or less.
Second: They say their vintage equipment is in constant need of repairs and they need an indoor space so their kids can make repairs in the harsh winters and inclement weather. Huh? Do they keep their equipment outdoors all year? Just judging by the video it appears they have no indoor space for any of their equipment, especially tractors.
If they leave their tractors outside all year, exposed to the elements, no wonder they keep needing repairs. Growing up my uncle kept his tractors in a garage, with no door but shielded from the elements.
Yeah, that’s me with my uncle. Look to the left and see the tractor wheels. No door, but inside. For those who care that’s an Oliver 77, circa late 40s I believe.
Third: $30 grand for an indoor space to repair the tractors? Heated floors? I Googled for prefab quonset huts and found this:
The above is 36′ wide x 12′ high x 60′ long. Gerritsen says he wants the building to be 70″ long and 30′ wide with two doors on front and back, so they can work on two machines at a time. That’s rich. You can’t take two machines in the same door? What’s the cost of this pre-fab configuration? $9,979.00. Gerritson says that it will take $32k to buy the materials to build the indoor space?
And he wants radiant floor heat using antifreeze? Not very organic if you ask me.
I didn’t look up the prices for indoor or outdoor wood boilers, so I can’t speak to that cost. But here’s a question. What kind of farming are they doing in the dead of winter in Maine that their tractors need repair?
The biggest red flag come to me in the middle of the video when he says that he is the head of the Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association (OSGATA). They are involved in an ongoing court case against Monsanto. Is it something Monsanto did to them? Nope. It’s what they might do.
I’m hate Monsanto as much as the next guy, but I think Gerritsen is inflating the costs of the repair shop in order to fund his organization’s fight against Monsanto. Wanting to raise funds to help in a court case against Monsanto is fine, but I think the way he is doing it is a big con. He’s using the small family farm idea to rope in the marks.
I showed above that with just a cursory search of how much it would cost to build his repair shop. I also showed that if he garaged his tractors out of the elements they wouldn’t need so many repairs. Either way, with a just a cursory search I got a new used tractor and a building for around $15 grand, half of what Gerritsen said it would take for just the repair shop.
The Gerritsen are the poster family for the organic movement. These are the faces the industry wants to consumers to imagine when they think organic. It’s actually pretty clever, but somewhat disingenuous
Democrats and the liberal/left love to make fun of the Republicans for their anti-science nonsense and ignorance. So, what do you make of the California Democratic Party’s endorsement of Prop. 37, the one that calls for labeling of GMO foods?
What is show’s is that the liberal/left have no more brains when it comes to science than their rightist counterparts. That, and they are not above pandering for votes.
On the national scene, one of my all time favorites, Bernie Sanders sponsored a bill that would require labeling of products that contain gmos. That seriously disappointed me.
And then you have the epidemics that could easily be prevented by vaccines. Where are the clusters of these outbreaks? Mostly in liberal places like the Pacific Northwest.
Ironically, the states that have the highest vaccine compliance are the red states in the south.
When did this anti-science mindset take hold in the liberal/left community. When did they abandon their critical thinking skills?
The race is heating up for Prop. 37, the gmo labeling law in California. It’s being touted as the consumer’s right to know what is in their food. The plain fact is that all the evidence they have to support their side is based on bad and flawed science and/or outright lies.
The liberal/left is always pointing to the anti-science mindset of the right. This campaign gives the anti-science right a run for their money.
It is a fact. The body of research is solid. Every reputable scientific organization agrees on the safety of gmos, or more technically correct, transgenic plants. They have been tested more than any other method.
Activists, on websites and in interviews always trot out the same discredited “facts” about the dangers of transgenic foods. They point to non-peer reviewed, flawed, discredited, self published studies. This movement is the FOX News of the Left. They keep repeating discredited studies as if they are true. Jeffrey Smith and Ronnie Cummins are masters of that tactic. They’re the Hannity and Limbaugh of the anti-gmo crowd.
What cracks me up about Cummins is that there doesn’t seem to a cause he hasn’t liked. According to his bio on HuffPost: Cummins has been active as a writer and activist since the 1960s, with extensive experience in human rights, anti-war, anti-nuclear, labor, consumer, environmental, and sustainable agriculture campaigns. It seems that he is an activist in search of a cause. Once a cause loses favor he’s on to the next one. “What are you rebelling against now, Johnny?” “What do you got?”
They point to scientists who agree with them. There are maybe a half dozen or so. The same names keep popping up. Climate change deniers also have the stable of scientists that have evidence that climate change is bogus.
The biggest go-to guys for their anti-gmo information aren’t scientists at all. They’re hustlers and activists with no scientific credentials at all
Activists point to discredited short-term studies that show dangerous effects in animals. Yet, they can’t point to any known public health problems in humans since transgenic foods hit the market 16 years ago. When you point this out them, the first reaction is usually “How much is Monsanto paying you?” Then they talk out of the other side of their mouths and say, well, we don’t know the long-term effects because there haven’t been any studies. Another lie. When asked how long they think it will take, they respond, “generations.” So, short-term studies show hazards but it will take generations to see the effects? Imbeciles.
Another duplicitous argument is that they have nothing against big organic, but call for boycotts of organic companies that didn’t sign on to their campaign and label them as “betrayers.”
The biggest line of bullshit is the main argument of their campaign, the consumer’s right to know what is in their food. The label that is being touted is a simple, “May contain genetically modified ingredients.”
What exactly does that mean? It’s useless beyond creating fear in the consumer due to all the misinformation they’ve spread. On comment boards, when I ask people exactly what they think the ingredients are, they can’t tell me, but demand their right to know what’s in their food. Comment boards are filled with freaks who claim that they had health problems from eating gmo foods and since they since they stopped gmo, these health problems abated. The big problem is that the foods they claim they ate that are gmo aren’t. It’s another imbecile aspect of this issue.
My theory is that this whole campaign is a big con by the organic industry and medical quacks to ramp up market share. Right now organics have a 3% share of the market. They are hoping that if they can scare the public enough, they will abandon conventional and gmos and buy organic. I believe this is a cynical attempt to gain market share through laws that put their competitors at a disadvantage. GMOs are the perfect boogeyman. Currently, gmos are the domain of multi-nationals which no one, for good reason, trusts.
But in this case, I’m siding with the corporations even though I hate their business practices. It’s because the science is solid. Or as solid as science can be.
Nothing is 100% safe. Not even organic food.
As a final note of this rant: I believe that well meaning imbeciles are being used by these activists.
Recently Monsanto put out a coloring book for children explaining what biotechnology is. Some people have a problem with that. One of those people expressing concern is a columnist Christine G.K. LaPado-Bregliafor who writs for the Chico California newspaper, the Chico News Review.
In her column Keeping up with Monsanto, she writes, “the book is filled with a lot of disconcerting information about biotechnology, which largely has to do with genetically modified food, but nowhere in the book is the term “GMO” or the like mentioned. Instead, the friendlier-sounding “biotechnology” is the term of choice throughout the publication.”
Well, that’s what gmo is, biotechnology. GMO is a broad term that doesn’t necessarily refer to foods. If you want to be technically correct, the term that should be used is transgenic.
The UN defines biotechnology as any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms, or derivatives thereof, to make or modify products or processes for specific use.”
“This saves energy as well as the soil!”Tell that to those GM-crop farmers in the Midwest and the Southeast United States that are battling six-foot and taller “superweeds” that have developed a resistance to the Monsanto herbicide, Roundup, after having planted genetically engineered “Roundup-ready” seeds.”
No weed has ever built up a resistance to an herbicide? Farmers have methods to prevent weed resistance. One of the main reasons these weed have become resistant is that farmers haven’t been following protocols and have been doing things like spraying only Roundup and too much of it. The idea is to use less.
Even more scary: “In the future, bananas could be grown with medicines inside them. This means people could grow their own banana trees to provide the essential medicines to protect against illness and disease.” I know I’m not alone when I say that I do not want to eat bananas “with medicines inside them.”
Oh my God! Run away! Run away! I wonder if LaPado-Bregliafor eats any food that has been fortified with? In any case, I don’t see what’s so scary about it? It may not be needed in the affluent western world, but this could help those in Third world where vaccine storage is not available.
Then we get to what I think is the bottom line:
Oh, by the way, the Council for Biotechnology Information is made up of the following members (are you ready??): BASF Plant Science, a biotech firm based in Germany; Bayer CropScience; Dow AgroSciences LLC; DuPont; Syngenta and … Monsanto.
It’s all about corporations. Corporations use the transgenic technology so it has to be bad. Even though they didn’t invent it. BUT, the internet was invented by the military and they use it so let’s label the internet!
Organic advocates feel good about themselves when they buy organic foods. They believe they are helping the small farmer, (not necessarily so) the environment (matter of debate) and how humanely the animals are treated. (they’d rather let a calf die than administer one dose of antibiotics to save its life and make it ineligible for organic certification). But do they ever wonder about how those organic farms treat their workers? They should.
The unspoken truth is that worker exploitation is the same in organic farming as it is in big conventional farming. Many organic farms pay substandard wages, have no job security and have arbitrary rules the workers must obey.
A recent article on the Nation of Change site asked, “Do you side with anti-worker…forces…” Then they go on to explain how anti-worker these big companies are.
United Farm Workers spokesman, Mark Grossman told grist.org, “There’s a common conventional wisdom by a lot of consumers, especially at the higher-end stores, that just because it’s organic the workers are treated better. “And that’s simply not true.”
Urban Habitat, in a 2011 survey of 500 organic growers in California found, “only 7.5 percent were in favor of labor standards. Forty-seven percent felt strongly that organic standards should not include labor standards and over 50 percent felt that organic certification should not require growers to provide workers with health insurance, paid sick leave, paid vacation, or the right to unionize.”
An alternet.org article called, The Ugly Truth Behind Organic Food, tells the tale of California’s first organic berry farm. Swanton Berry Farm, is the first organic farm in that state to be unionized. Swanton is a small farm and farms only 200 acres with a staff of 50 during the peak season.
The writer of the alternet article wonders,, “Why is this place such an anomaly in the organic movement?”
Because farms are organic, people assume that it’s an enlightened labor standard,” says Michael Meuter, an attorney with California Rural Legal Assistance. “But that’s not accurate. There are definitely labor violations on organic farms.
A few other tidbits from the article:
The No. 1 complaint among both groups is that they receive neither state minimum wage nor overtime pay
The Organic Trade Association, a marketing group that represents organic products is focused on increasing sales and protecting the current USDA organic standards. According to Barbara Haumann of the association, the group “isn’t minimizing labor issues, but other [issues] have taken up so much time and energy.”
The hostility of many organic growers to labor issues was evident in a 2006 report cited by CIRS, which found that most preferred to not include social standards in USDA certification.
Now, some of the organic activist groups who support Prop 37 (the Ca. labeling law) also supported SB 104, the bill which gave farm workers more power to organize unions, which by the way, already existed.
So, we know that Big Ag would be against any law that would force them to pay farm workers a livable wage and decent working conditions. The big question is, if organic is so wonderful in all ways, why are so may organic farms against paying farm workers a livable wage and provide decent working conditions? Why don’t they do it on their own? Why do 47% feel strongly that “organic standards should not include labor standards?” Why do over 50% feel that “organic certification should not require growers to provide workers with health insurance, paid sick leave, paid vacation, or the right to unionize?”