Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Good day for Roundup, bad day for weeds...

Today’s decision by the US Supreme Court, on the surface, looks like a great victory for Monsanto, and to some extent, it is. The Big “M” has about a ga-gillion dollars invested into RR Alfalfa so far, and has watched it sit on the sidelines for the better part of 3 years while lower courts squabbled over reports, science, and weather APHIS (that’s a big acronym for the dept of ag oversight group) really did its job watching Monsanto’s testing the first time around. But this story is about much, much more than alfalfa.

For years, farmers have been using biotech crops, all the way back to the 1930’s. By definition, the first time that we cross-bred corn, we were using biotech crops. The science has come a long way since then, but the mission has not-produce more crops, better crops, and cheaper crops. This is the primary mission of agriculture-the more we produce, and the less we produce it for, the more people who can eat off a single acre of American Farmland without having to work on it. Last I checked, the number was around 450 per acre. But back to biotech-see, people need to remember, this stuff didn’t just happen one day. People far, far, more intelligent than me have spent many, many years of their lives working on these crops-researching, testing, designing. I’ve met these people, firsthand, and I’m here to say, they have no motive beyond what every farmer does-feed the world, make an honest living, leave the planet a little better than they found it. Their science, backed by the best universities on the planet, has stood the test, and it’s who it stood before that makes it that much better.

The supreme court, while being a very, very intelligent group of jurists, are not scientists. They are essentially average Americans; Americans who have seen Food Inc, and HSUS commercials with sappy music playing. They shop in the same stores, see the same news, and have read the same books and papers. And best of all, they have the same prejudices towards food systems that many of us do as well; and in spite of this, they waded though the muck to make a clear decision. They have determined that the science passes muster, and while further testing is needed, which I’m confident will prove the validity of Monsanto’s claims, they have shown that science trumps emotion.

Right now, my wife is working on her Masters in Food Safety from MSU, and her current project is a comparison of sanitation (how many bugs are in the eggs) between caged and cage-free systems. The results are overwhelming that cage-raised eggs are hands down safer than cage free; and I’m not just talking one or two articles-I’m speaking about the 3 foot high pile of scientific data that has invaded my dining room table. It’s court decisions like this, and the science I see though my wife first hand, that gives me hope in our future. I think it’s a safe bet that at some point, we’ll see a “prop 2” type issue that is happening in Ohio come before the court. And hopefully, they see the science though the smoke the same way they did today.

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