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The Plight of the Family Farmer…

March 28, 2011

The Farmer’s Song Video
by Scot Sier

We are what we eat is how the saying goes. Luckily, I live in northern California where small organic farms are making a difference in the quality of food we are ingesting. The proliferation of farmers markets has made shopping for food an exciting and fun experience. To meet the farmer who grew your produce personally, is a wonderful interaction. You truly get a sense of their dedication to the land, while enjoying the healthy benefits of fresh picked, organic foods.

Not only do the fruits and vegetables taste better, they pack more nutrients than the food products coming from many corporate farms these days. There has been a lot of talk about regulation of the industry recently. Anti- trust laws are prospering, with the Big Ag giants battling it out for control of the genetic seed stock. Second tier engineering is the new motto for companies like Monsanto, who want to continue deploying new seed strains as their GMO patents run out soon.

With lobbyist connections in Washington, they are a powerful group. Less than two percent of the corporate farms provide fifty percent of the world’s food supply. And in their interest of producing profits and increasing shareholder wealth in a free market, they compete without Government regulation, which can have detrimental consequences to the health of our environment and our planet. If we continue to allow GMO crops to proliferate unchecked, what are the possible side effects?

Fifty years ago, no one expected chemical pollutants to cause the environmental havoc they have created and the huge costs to clean them up. Because of this, autism in children is on the rise and nearly 1/3rd of all species are threatened with extinction (and up to half of all plant species and half of all mammals). Few also would have expected cancer rates to skyrocket, yet approximately 41% of Americans on average can expect cancer in their lifetime. Do we want to allow the same unchecked regulation for GMO seeds, without understanding more closely their effect on our food chain?

I am all for feeding the world in the most efficient manner and the large Ag companies have made great strides in reducing world hunger. However, the use of Roundup in developing genetic seed stock which has led to the promotion of mono crops has harmed our fertile farmland and robbed our foods of the nutrients that benefit the health of our citizens. These mono crops have contributed to approximately 95% of many native grains, beans, nuts, fruits, and vegetable varieties in the United States, India, and Argentina among other nations to have disappeared.

Monsanto, set a goal of converting 100% of all US soy crops to Roundup Ready strains by the year 2000 and laid out similar strategies for corn, cotton, wheat and rice. This strategy neglects how seeds interact, adapt and change in a natural environment, all in the name of monopolizing the industry to maintain profitability.

Each year, companies like Monsanto create new genetic strains of seeds to make up for lost soil nutrients and evolving pest species brought on by the previous engineered crop. This unfortunately will not solve the problem, but exacerbate it in the long run. We cannot continue to plant the same genetically modified crops over and over in the same fields, it’s not good for the soil, let alone the unknown effects on our planets biodiversity and our bodies. I believe that we need to step back and analyze the long term effects of genetic seeds and start regulating the industry more closely with full disclosure from both Big Ag, scientists and Washington.

Companies like Monsanto, also can contribute to political unrest in the world. Those who own and control the food supply, are in many eyes a powerful group who hold others hostage by their patents. The farmers are at the mercy of each new strain that they must buy to keep up with the latest advancements in engineering. The profits in small family farms are minimal and adding these additional costs, can force the small independent farmers out of the business, opening up the road to the continued expansion of large factory farms.

The small organic GMO free farmer today faces a number of challenges, not only higher costs of production, but also the threat of having their seed pollinated with GMO seeds blowing in the wind from high production farms nearby. What we think of as organic, is becoming blurred with every new crop each year. The process for how they inspect and rate our fruits and vegetables today for the organic seal of approval is a mystery to me. That is why I purchase, whenever possible my fruits and vegetables directly from the local farmers markets. We need more label clarity on the nutrient and genetic makeup of mass distributed food products and the only way I foresee that happening is through improved government oversight and regulation.

There is an informative website that I suggest to those interested in learning more about GMO’s and the Justice Department’s recent anti-trust investigation into the Monsanto Corporation. Visit them here: civileats.org

As a songwriter and lover of nature, I feel that it is important to create music that express the concerns many of us have about sustainable environmental practices and the effects of globalization. We are one earth, one people and the “Farmers Song” is my personal voice in a vast sea of change.

Celebrate Earthday on April 22, click here to see how you can make a difference. earthday.org

My Best,

Scot Sier
Avoid the harm, buy from the local farm.
http://www.facebook.com/scotsier

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