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03 September 2012

Onus Of Proof

Back in 1977, I set out to plant my first garden as an adult. It had been a few years since I worked a garden alongside my grandfather.  I had left the small towns of Kansas and moved through Los Angeles the first time and had settled in a subdivision of Topeka.

Lots around these houses would stun most Angelinos with their size.  I had a large front yard and a back yard that, by my life today, seemed to stretch on out towards Oklahoma.  I went to work tearing grass out of the 'south forty' of the back yard with my city-born and bred wife laughing at my hard work at putting a garden in.

Grandpa was not organic.  He used chemical fertilizer and he sprayed insecticide when he deemed it necessary, but he didn't go nuts with the stuff and most of what we had was a mix of industrial agriculture with several decades of non-industrial agriculture mixed in.  When I set myself in motion to tear out the lawn in the back part of my backyard, I had grandpa's old walk behind garden tractor and several years' worth of the old Rodale magazine, Organic Gardening and Farming, before it split into the Organic Gardening and The New Farm, the latter lasted for something like a year before it succumbed to poor sales.

This was the old magazine that old man Rodale, J. I. put together in the 1950's.  It and it's sister magazine, Prevention, were an odd size because JI, visionary that he was, had found that a printer had this size of paper left over from his own work and JI could get if for a song.  We call that 'being sustainable.' JI was just being practical.

I poured through those magazines.  I learned the mantra of 'feed the soil and not the plant' and I bought the whole program.  Boy, my neighbors laughed at me too!  I was the only one (for miles, it seemed) who eschewed the cheap petroleum based chemical fertilizers in favor of manure and all kinds of stuff hauled in from God only remembers where I found what I found. I did it because it made ultimate sense to me that what you fed the soil, fed the plant and what the plant fed you was the result of what happened to the plant in your garden.  It never made sense to me that a chemical X equaled an organic X, and it still doesn't today.

For several years, I gardened in Kansas until the weather and the anonymity of Los Angeles begged me back.  I had nothing but fabulous harvests from those gardens.  I never had an insect infestation of note and I took the laughing and poked fun with more or less good grace when the harvest came in because I kicked, ahem, ass.  Scoffers can be damned when you have proof bushels of  tomatoes that tasted better than the next guy's by a long shot.

It was not only for being an organic gardener, who was only too happy to proselytizer his belief, that my time in Kansas was never happy.  Still, the fact in those days was  being an 'organic gardener' equated one with being on the fringe, if not an outright nut case.  And some of the poking in 'fun' was not in fun. Gardeners can be horribly competitive and a good portion of us are not real socialites.  I'm probably guilty of both myself.

Those publications by JI Rodale and his son Robert after JI's death, were right!  Time and time again, 'organic' vegetables are better for you (and the environment) in study after study.  There is practically no public health official who will promote non-organic produce if he or she is paid to do it.  Organic is the standard to which all food strives to pretend with obfuscating labels of 'healthy' and other contrivances that are there only to confuse.  The USDA's 'organic' label is still a contentious issue with non-organic producers trying to water the requirements down - like a recent balloon that was floated to include 'genetically modified' plants as part of 'organic' labeling.  It was shot down, but that someone even had the gall to propose it....

Which brings us to 'Genetic Modified' plants and food.  Once again, intuitively I knew this to be a bad deal.  I stumbled across something I wrote in the late 1990's against GMOs which surprised me because I only think of myself as coming late to this thinking.  90% of Americans, in recent polls, think that GMOs should be labeled when they show up in our food. And so on Proposition 37, this November, you must vote yes.  

The onus of proof is on the Vote No folks.  The vote yes only have to have reason for suspicion and you must vote yes.  Vote no folks have to prove that their technology is flat out NOT harmful and they can't.  They can't because there has been NO STUDY of the effects of their technology 20 years out.  Period.  Just because Vice President Dan "Potatoe Head" Quayle signed a memorandum back in the 1990's that says 'genetically modified organisms are essential equivalents' of the non-genetically modified organisms does not make it so.  Vice-President Quayle could sign a memorandum stating that the sun rises in the West, but that would not change the facts.  

On one hand, Monsanto and kind say, "Oh they are the same...." but on the other hand, they insist these products are original enough to warrant a patent.  Which is it?  If they are not different, ditch the patent.  If they are that different, they MUST be labeled. 

Do not allow their campaign of obfuscation and lies to obscure the fact that THEY have the burden of proof.  The FDA waived any tests citing the Quayle memorandum.  That does NOT make the same.  They are patent worthy, they need to be studied - and at MINIMUM a 20 year study on animals, NOT the buying public.  Do you want to be a lab rat?  Do you think it's OK that your children are?  Remember, Monsanto is the same company that certified to a foolish public that 
                                      DDT was completely safe
                                      Agent Orange was safe for the soldiers that applied it
and to just PROVE you can't trust them, in their application for GMO corn they stated that corn pollen is only viable for five miles - when in fact, subsequent research has shown it's more like twenty miles!  

So if they have the burden of proof, it would be lovely to see any facts or figures they call truth actually verified by a truly independent body. I, for one, do not trust them - this is but a short list of the lies Monsanto has perpetuated upon the public.  This is not a company that can be trusted and they are the ones selling this stuff. Do not take your eye off the prize:  labeling is the only way you will have the chance to know what you are eating.


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