Monday, January 24, 2011

FIRST THE GOOD NEWS... FOOD-CONNECT! THE BAD NEWS? NEW U.S. FOOD SAFETY LEGISLATION


NOTE ABOUT THIS STORY ADDED SATURDAY 5TH OF FEBRUARY: It took 2 days and many conversations, links and updates to get to the bottom of the central story in this post. I was caught off guard... couldnt work out why such a HUGE issue was so under the radar. The investigation proved that there is a lot if misinformation going around out there... but that there is a LOT to be concerned about at the same time!


Can I say how profoundly important it is we discuss these matters and get to the bottom of what's happening ... wherever possible ... easier said then done I know!


There is so much lobbying and legislation pushing things in directions many are very concerned about. Its so easy to miss whats happening on that level and not have a voice. Living in Brisbane through a hellish summer for so many Queenslanders I saw the most amazing ground swell of care, giving and volunterring take place from so many concerned citizens.


I'd like to think we could apply some of that same energy and drive to some of our long term global issues as this year unfolds and we reflect on the long term implications of current events and what we can do about it.


Lets make our actions really count for the future!



From Ro Bruhn in Melbourne, Australia

artists celebrate seeds... Postcards from the Blogosphere
... Mail art show in July 2010 
from passage paradis in L.A.


Just visited the excellent Brisbane-based venture Food-Connect where I read the most worrying news.

First - THE GOOD NEWS .... about Food Connect:

Food Connect’s aim is to supply local, sustainably produced food to the community in South East Queensland. We are creating a new, more equitable way of distributing local produce in a socially responsible way. Our delicious seasonal produce comes from local farmers living within a five hour radius of Brisbane who are paid a fair price for their hard work and who are encouraged to farm using the most sustainable methods possible. Our subscribers know where their food comes from and are invited to see for themselves on regular farm tours. Click the links below if you want to know more about our unique way of doing things.
WHAT WE ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT
Food connect is a good news story. And so successful it has been set up in other states recently.

Go to the inspiration page is you want to be inspired.

So what did I find that bothered me so at this blog just now... an article coming out of the US on the proposed new US FOOD SAFETY LEGISLATION.
FOOD SAFETY YOU WONDER???


The US senate Bill S510 “Food Safety Modernization Act” proposes to ban growing food in backyards, seed saving and people will also be unable to sell their produce at markets should this legislation go ahead. See the Natural News website for more information on this story.
food

Senate Bill S 510 Food Safety Modernization Act vote imminent: Would outlaw gardening and saving seeds



Im going to post that article here. I think it needs to be discussed and I'm wondering what the time-frame for this is... and the likelihood it will come into being! I'd really like to hear from anyone living in the US.... what have you heard about this? 


Senate Bill S 510 Food Safety Modernization Act vote imminent: Would outlaw gardening and saving seeds
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor 

(NaturalNews) Senate Bill 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act, has been called "the most dangerous bill in the history of the United States of America." It would grant the U.S. government new authority over the public's right to grow, trade and transport any foods. This would give Big brother the power to regulate the tomato plants in your backyard. It would grant them the power to arrest and imprison people selling cucumbers at farmer's markets. It would criminalize the transporting of organic produce if you don't comply with the authoritarian rules of the federal government.

"It will become the most offensive authority against the cultivation, trade and consumption of food and agricultural products of one's choice. It will be unconstitutional and contrary tonatural law or, if you like, the will of God." - Dr. Shiv Chopra, Canada Health whistleblower (http://shivchopra.com/?page_id=2)

This tyrannical law puts all food production (yes, even food produced in your own garden) under the authority of the Department of Homeland Security. Yep -- the very same people running the TSA and its naked body scanner / passenger groping programs.

This law would also give the U.S. government the power to arrest any backyard food producer as a felon (a "smuggler") for merely growing lettuce and selling it at a local farmer's market.

It also sells out U.S. sovereignty over our own food supply by ceding to the authority of both the World Trade Organization (WTO) and Codex Alimentarius.

It would criminalize seed saving (http://foodfreedom.wordpress.com/20...), turning backyard gardeners who save heirloom seeds into common criminals. This is obviously designed to give corporations like Monsanto monopoly over seeds.

It would create an unreasonable paperwork burden that would put small food producers out of business, resulting in more power over the food supply shifting to large multinational corporations.

I encourage you to read more about this dangerous bill at the Food Freedom blog on Wordpress: http://foodfreedom.wordpress.com/20...

Watch this excellent video on NaturalNews.TV which explains S.510 in more detail:
http://naturalnews.tv/v.asp?v=9209B...


Take action now or lose your right to grow your own food

Sign this petition at Citizens for Health:
http://www.citizens.org/?page_id=2312

Do it today! This is really important.

In addition, the Cornucopia Institute recently sent out an urgent call-to-action email containing the following information: (http://www.cornucopia.org/2010/11/a...)

How to protest Senate Bill 510

1) Go to Congress.org and type in your zip code in the box in the upper right hand corner.

2) Click on your Senator's name, and then on the contact tab for their phone number. You can also call the Capitol Switchboard and ask to be directly connected to your Senator's office: 202-224-3121.

3) Once connected ask to speak to the legislative staff person responsible for agriculture. If they are unavailable leave a voice mail message. Be sure to include your name and phone number.

Give them this message in support of the "Tester Amendment" which would exempt small farms from S.510:

"I am a constituent of Senator___________. I ask that he/she support the Tester Amendment to the food safety bill. The Tester Amendment will exempt the safest, small, owner-operator farms and food facilities and farmers who direct market their products to consumers, stores or restaurants. Food safety legislation should not create inappropriate and costly regulatory barriers to family farms and the growing healthy food movement in the drive to crack down on corporate bad actors. Please support the Tester Amendment and market opportunities for small and mid-sized family farms, and small food processing facilities."

You may also wish to explain that you oppose the Food Safety Modernization Act in its entirety, and it is a destructive, freedom-crushing law that will destroy the future of food inAmerica.

Remember, America has already lost control over its money supply to the Federal Reserve (nearly a hundred years ago). America has lost its health due to the medical industry and its profit-from-sickness agenda. Now we may lose our right to grow our own food and save our own seeds if Senate Bill 510 passes.

This is a dangerous, tyrannical law that would thrust the American people into an age of darkness and malnutrition. It would criminalize many of the very people growing our food and turn food production into yet another corporate monopoly.

Please take the time right now to contact your U.S. Senator and voice your strong opposition to this bill.


Food safety?  ... it seems each time we hear the words food and safety used together there is a rather worrying issue at stake. Euphemisms such as this result in many thinking there's nothing to worry about.

Given there is a huge backyard phenomenon going on in this country as elsewhere ... with people turning to backyard food growing for any number of reasons... this is a critical issue with consequences we all need to be well aware of. ... right around the globe. Please leave a comment and do share this information. Of course we need to learn more on this and verify the story... but given, unfortunately, that there is a precedence for this kind of legislation in measures we well know have taken place already around seeds and copyright... in North America, with the World Trade Organisation ... and thats for starters... we really have to
take notice now... make no mistake about that. What we do ... or don't do now .... can make a historical difference... one way or the other. 


Food sovereignty for all!


NB "Food sovereignty" is a term coined by members of Via Campesina in 1996 [1] to refer to a policy framework advocated by a number of farmerspeasantspastoralistsfisherfolkindigenous peopleswomenrural youth and environmental organizations, namely the claimed "right" of peoples to define their own food, agriculture, livestock and fisheries systems, in contrast to having food largely subject to international market forces.

READ THE NEXT POST TO FIND UPDATED INFORMATION. THANKS TO ALL WHO TOOK PART IN THIS IMPORTANT DIALOGUE. IT TOOK QUITE A BIT OF DIGGING TO GET TO THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER... AND THEN ONE STLL HAD TO WONDER!

thanks to everyone,
Sophie 

19 comments:

lyle baxter said...

this is certainly something to look into. I live in New Jersey the so called garden state. If this bill exists and would come up for a vote the small farmers of the state of which there are many would be up for not only killing the bill but its author as well! will look into it!

sophiemunns2010 said...

Lyle,
Im very pleased you stopped in and read about this. Its excellent that you are going to look into it.
I spent time with cousins over xmas who explained how they are tied up to companies on their farm, cant save their seeds and have had to sign contracts agreeing to so many things. They are not large scale producers.
Its takes a while ... but we often adopt policies and practices from the US... Some of them are downright alarming and devastating... and I know many in the US are up in arms. There's a lot of unknowing here.
Thanks for your comment,
Sophie

La Dolce Vita said...

well, Soph, have not heard of this bill, not surprising, since the corp, want to keep it quiet...but as a home gardener, it does not surprise me, the big business here, wants to control it all, and we are having a real struggle with gm foods ... our way of controlling that was to save seeds and to start heirloom companies, but this looks troubling. thanks for the link and I will check it out! xo

sophiemunns2010 said...

Glad to hear from you Caterina!
Control of everything is right. Nothing seems to be more monitered than seeds and the food we eat.
The first thing we need to do is get the facts... make sure we have the correct story on this... after that its pretty clear what needs to happen.
Ive had a few emails already saying people are going to be checking it out.
Even imagining this bill could be put into effect makes one want to stay very awake.Thanks for leaving your comment,
S xo

Anonymous said...

NaturalNews is not a reliable source. They totally exaggerate and in the case of this bill effecting seed saving and gardening they are just plain lying.

There is so much junk about that bill on the internet. You have to really dig to find a real evaluation. I'd check the major news sources or the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. They are more realistic.

Bottom line: It doesn't effect gardens.

Sophie Munns said...

Hello Anonymous,

In the light of this particular story you writing anonymously to say Natural News is not reliable is not exactly putting my mind at rest!

Instead these questions arise:

1. what are your interests in this?
2. what direct links to actual information can you
provide?
3. why anonymous?
4. Do we get to hear from you again? With newsworthy
links?
5. bottom line - it does not effect gardens - what
does it effect - in essence?

Frankly Id like there to not be a whiff of an issue here
and for it to be proven there's nothing to be remotively concerned about. But...in not taking time to link directly to dialogue around the misreporting of information, etc suggests ??? . Bloggers are generally happy to provide crucial info to make a point.... the surest way to clarify and substantiate a view.

I agree that just because someone declares themselves, has a website, runs an organisation and so on... does not mean they are reliable!

I've looked at the National Sustainable Agricultural Coalition site and found a blog post titled Take Action: Local and Regional Food: http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/take-action-local-and-regional-food-at-risk/

Given I'm in Australia and this is a US organisation... of which I know nothing ... and this post does not relate precisely to what you spoke of ...Im still in the dark.... maybe Im just over tired. Its late here.

If you are making a legitimate claim could you pop back in with direct links to material that you've actually read and know to be "reliable"! Surely you know where to get this exact material?
Sophie

sophiemunns2010 said...

OK.... found this:

http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2010/12/sunday-surprise-senate-passes-food-safety-bill/

found that republished here: at civil eats

http://civileats.com/2010/12/20/sunday-surprise-senate-passes-food-safety-bill/#more-10580

Reading the comments following the top article was interesting ... confusing but fascinating. Sounds to me like a lot of people dont really know for sure what's going on from the comments.
I cant blame them!

The Artist Within Us said...

Dear Sophie,

Thank you for bringing this to the attention of your readers. It is an important issue here in the US but one that is kept quiet.

It is a big take over of Monsanto who wants to control what we eat and limit the selection of what is made available and we would then lose even more bio-diversed seeds.

I do not recall if it was me who brought this to your attention or not several weeks ago, but that really does not matter. I am just going to have to bring it up on my FaceBook page and make it a bigger issue.

Wishing you all the very best from here where the sun is finally out and it is a beautiful day to be in the garden and go some cleaning up.

Take care my friend,
Egmont

The Artist Within Us said...

Hi Sophie,

Further update on the bill which passed by the house and senate, now cloaked as H.R. 2751 and awaits the president's signature. For more information: http://bit.ly/gwIhTN

Warmest regards,
Egmont

iNdi@na said...

thanks Sophie for alerting us all to the debate. clearly there's much wheat-from-chaff sorting to be done [in terms of the quality of information out there]

but it's quite clear...Monsanto is up to no good

i DID like the comment made by one person [somewhere in the mist of blogland] that 'instead of building a mosque at Ground Zero', a community garden would be a more practical offering

off to water the tomato plants now

sophiemunns2010 said...

Dear Egmont,

thank you for both your comments.

I cant recall this info you mention from weeks ago Im sorry... maybe it slipped under my radar! Over a week of major decluttering, re-reading papers, discerning what to throw out, has sharpened my mind for noticing such things now I can assure you!

What I'm seeing .... from people who've gotten back to me, my own brief research, and from what is being reported ... is a universal sense of the difficulty in interpreting exactly what this legislation means. There's so much noise ... all kinds of interpretation on what's happening... and so little clarity.

Of course that can be just perfect for a machine like Monsanto...

Certainly we've seen that with the climate change story... muddle the minds of the public enough and everyone falls into a kind of apathy.... born of the frustration of not knowing quite what to believe.

None of us wants to feel that we are "over-reacting" or plain wrong about this ... but we've also seen, over and over, ruthless actions become law -driven by these very companies. We damn well know we cant take our eyes off the situation... we do that at our peril

Given that so far they've been successful in making it illegal to save seeds in parts of Africa, India, effectively in Iraq (I've actually posted on the complex ways this has been achieved) frankly I'm glad that we are talking and raising a stronger measure of concern.

The fact is the public are very concerned about Monsanto and the likes... they have come to dread each new piece of a disturbing jig-saw puzzle coming into place.

We should be poised ... we must have dialogue that digs deeper and of course we must seek to be as accurate as possible.

Enjoy the gardening Egmont... will check that link you've come back with!
best wishes,
Sophie

Sharmon Davidson said...

Hi Sophie, I was extremely alarmed by what I read in your email, so I did a bit of research. For the most part, it seems to be an internet hoax, thank goodness. The bill exists, but most of the claims made by Natural News are false. According to snopes, which is usually very reliable,(http://www.snopes.com/politics/business/organic.asp), the bill contains nothing about home gardeners, seeds, or organic farms. I read a summary of the bill at govtrack.us (http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s111-510&tab=summary), and that appears to be true.
However, the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund (http://www.ftcldf.org/news/news-02mar2009.htm) sees it as over-regulation which will put an undue burden on small family farms. Thanks for bringing it to may attention; I will research it further. But believe me, if I thought the bill would effect our right to grow gardens or save seeds (both of which I do and intend to continue), I'd be picketing on the front steps of the Capital Building.

sophiemunns2010 said...

Yes Yes India...
much wheat-from-chaf sorting required indeed!
The message seems to be "stay awake" ... and keep the dialogue going ... we know who is not going to be disappearing any time soon...

You know when "former" senior Monsanto employees come to Washington to take up positions on key programs and get to lobby from within that its going have major consequences for the outcome. Im recalling "Food Inc" - where that was highlighted.

Thanks for your thoughts...
enjoy the garden!
S

sophiemunns2010 said...

Thank you indeed for getting back to us with that information Sharmon. Its critically essential we know what is in play.

Next year in Australia were celebrating National Year of the Farmer. (Oh...I better check that...I think it only a national thing!) There's a lot of concern here that people in that industry feel under attack from all sides ... and will walk away... sell-out to the big guys... whatever.

Were seeing prime dairy farms in Tasmania being sold to China of late. People are nervous... well the ones who are looking to see what's happening are.

It's is a very troubled industry for many reasons... so reading that the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund sees it as OVER-REGULATION placing burden on small family farms also concerns me.

Every bit of legislation that comes into place appears to put the squeeze on the small operator ... I see that as seriously problematic as its largely the small operators who give a fig about biodiversity and sustainability... so I find myself watching this entire discussion with huge unease.

It great to think you'd be on the steps of the Capital Building Sharmon... keep us posted if you discover more.
Sophie
ps have you read the story of Monsanto in India where it was made illegal to save seeds in certain regions ... with vast and disturbing consequences. A recent post on Vindana Shiva will lead to that story.

sophiemunns2010 said...

Im going to post this message that came via email from blogger Mary Zeran this morning who checked in with the Seed-Savers organisation that I think is based in Mary's home state of Iowa.

Thank you Mary!


"As far as we at Seed Savers Exchange can tell, there is nothing in the bill that will impact seed saving. However, when it comes to this kind of law the details often get ironed out when the agencies--in this case the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)--write and enforce the actual regulations.

The version of the Food Safety Modernization Act that will become law does include almost all the final provisions set forth in the Senate--including the Tester-Haugen amendment which exempts small, local producers. Many--if not most--advocates for sustainable agriculture and small producers fought hard for this exemption and are pleased with the end result. Seed Savers Exchange is not an advocacy or policy analysis group, but as far as we can tell this legislation should not impact seed savers nor, to the best of our knowledge, have a detrimental impact on small farmers, growers or gardeners.

If you're interested in learning more about the issue, here are a few links you may want to explore: The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition is an advocacy group working on federal policy to advance sustainable agriculture. They have been monitoring the food safety legislation. Though it is outdated, I'd recommend looking at this Food Fight series on Grist.org which discusses the legislation from many perspectives (the analysis is still current since the legislation that finally passed mostly replicates the language that came out of the Senate).

Seed Savers will continue to keep an eye on the situation as it progresses--as the actual regulations are written and go into effect, but for now we don't see anything to be concerned about with regard to seed saving. Again, I should be clear that we're not a policy advocacy group so we don't have experts in policy language on staff."


Sophie: there's an air of caution to this writing... My feeling is that we need to keep watch... see how it plays out!

The Artist Within Us said...

Greetings Sophie,

Here is a link to the actual bill as it reads: http://bit.ly/hhsuO8

Warmest regards,
Egmont

sophiemunns2010 said...

Thanks Egmont!
Ive just trawled thorough it... first thinking it would be impossible to make sense of.

However I picked out a few sections that were referring to provision being made to allow small and very small businesses and ventures I think like farm to table operations (school programs etc) to continue on .... as normal??

Perhaps someone adept at reading this form of communication might get back to us. Its so dense - utterly beyond my contextual understanding!

Thank you for taking time to send it!
best,
Sophie

Elaine said...

Hi, Sophie! I had to do some digging to find out anything about this because the first I learned about it was from your comment on my blog yesterday. This passed with hardly a ripple here. I did not hear anything about this in the media. Barely a report in our local paper and it was just that - a factual report on the bill itself. No discussion. I have read some of the things that your other commenters have reported and that this bill will not affect local growers and those of us who grow food in our backyards, but it does give more authority to Homeland Security particularly as this bill will allow the U.S. to set up offices in other countries so they can dictate how the food will be grown before it is shipped to the U.S.

I have only had a chance to give a very quick reading of the bill, but what I did see was the typical legislative bill with language that no one can understand or interpret and huge loopholes and leaving you with nothing but questions after reading it.

Thank you for bringing it to our attention and I will pass on any information that I discover.

Take Care,

Elaine

sophiemunns2010 said...

The loopholes and the difficulty of language that bamboozles do leave one wondering just what is at stake!

Thanks for a insightful response... do tell if you hear more Elaine,
Go well,
Sophie

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