“Why We Need to Show Our Support for the American Farmer”

Written by photographer Harvey Spears:

Last January, I attended a rally at Foley Square, NYC in support of farmers from Maine to California. They came to testify “in the first phase of a court case filed to protect farmers from genetic trespass by Monsanto’s GMO seed, which contaminates organic and non-GMO farmer’s crops and opens them up to abusive lawsuits.”  As I heard men and women speak with great feeling about their farms which provide nourishing, healthy food to the American people, I was stirred thinking that they are like the farmers in the American Revolution who fought to protect their right to freedom which included farming the land.  I also felt the urgency of a question asked by Eli Siegel, American philosopher and founder of the education Aesthetic Realism.

“To whom should the land of America, with its wealth, belong—
to all Americans, or to a few?”

As more people than ever know, farmers, struggling to earn a living, are being persuaded to use these GMO seeds, including corn, alfalfa, and soybeans.  Naturally, the farmers are told the seeds are “healthy” and “safe.”  However, these seeds don’t stay put.  Often they are carried by winds to farms that don’t want GMO seeds, and their crops end up being tainted anyway. There’s no way to stop this.  Many scientists have written extensively on the harmful effects of GMO seeds in the food chain, and while all the effects are unknown, the possibilities are frightening.  To compound this unfair situation, Monsanto sues those framers who won’t use their corrupted seeds, (but whose crops have become tainted through no fault of their own) for “patent infringement”.  The Food Democracy blog explains:

Between 1997 and 2010, 144 farmers have already been sued by Monsanto and another 700 have settled out of court for undisclosed sums. Many times these abusive lawsuits force farmers into bankruptcy and off the land. We can’t allow this to continue.

I learned that yearly a farmer carefully examines his seed and selects the best so his crops will be even better for the next harvest. The seed is the core of a farmer’s crop and any infringement on it can mean ruin. Some farmers have had to stop planting corn for instance, because they are worried about getting sued by Monsanto.  It’s apparent that Monsanto feels they have the right to manipulate the land for their own profit.  It is outrageous and unconscionable that the people who grow the food we need for our very survival should have this completely unnecessary worry.

As a photographer, who has photographed the rich farmlands of New York State and Maine, I have a large respect and gratitude for the scientific expertise and dedication of America’s farmers.  They are the life’s blood of our nation, and any attempt to rob them of their livelihoods is blatantly unjust.   In a commentary to The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known, Ellen Reiss writes about ethical decisions that have come to be in America. They include:

government protections against tainted food.  Each ethical decision came to be only because people fought for it courageously… Mr. Siegel showed the world is demanding, and going toward, a basis for production other than the profit motive…This new economics is something that has not existed before, but is in keeping with the US Declaration of Independence and Constitution. It’s economics based on ethics and aesthetics: the oneness of justice to each individual and justice to all people. He explained:

“The world should be owned by the people living in it. Every person should be seen as living in a world truly his. All persons should be seen as living in a world truly theirs.”

Though the farmers recently lost the lawsuit in a New York court, they will appeal. Theirs is a tremendously important struggle that impacts the life of every American.   We have the right and obligation to make sure that the food we put into our bodies is good for us to eat.  This means demanding that our government and courts speak for all of us and ensure that the land and its people are protected.

Visit Harvey Spear’s website: harveyspearsphotography

  1. With many thanks to all of you for keeping up the good fight. We must never stop. Perseverance always pays off and is successful.

    • I didn’t approve the prigapatoon of Monsanto GMO crops, just the opposite.Not only are they dangerous to wildlife, they are a danger to you and me and our offspring as is the rest of their productsReferences :

      • It’s a shocker isn’t it? Even with iiraecsnng evidence from Europe that yields are NOT increased and it ends up costing MORE using GM crops, they let it lapse… Sigh. Now that it’s out there, the least we can do is to campaign hard to get compulsory labelling laws.Cheers, Julie

      • No, big peaches don’t nersseacily mean bad . Selective breeding can certainly be accomplished without the use of pesticides, etc. From my experience with researching agricultural practices here in the US which are on a corporate farming level, lots of chemicals are typically used. Chain supermarkets like ShopRite buy from these corporate suppliers, so most likely, my giganto peach needs to be thoroughly washed. And then there’s the issue of selectively breeding for appearance, not nutritional value (as mentioned in a previous reply). I don’t know all that much about the nutrition aspect of it, but if peach growers are anything like humans, we like to pick and choose based on looks, not always quality Thanks for the info about the farming/GMO situation in your country. Which country is it? The information I got regarding the very tight regulations on GMO imports was only regarding the EU. There’s so many factors that come into play when talking about agriculture!

  2. At least, someone cares about my heatlh for what I feed to my body, produced wrong by MONSANTO.Since, this is the heatlh issue, the new heatlhcare supporters and opponents must get involved, to save life and Money for America. The GMO issue does affect both the right and left wing politicians. ACT ON IT , BEFORE IT ACTS ON

    • I am sure that you are working with Percy Schmeiser from Canada that filed suit asganit monsanto corp. several years ago and won the Right Livlihood award for his work. If not, then look him up on the internet.

      • I’d like to object to two thgnis:=========== In Europe, it is mandatory to label anything that is genetically modified as such. There are intense restrictions on imports that are genetically modified. Result: no one eats genetically modified foods. They simply don’t exist because there is no market for them. All foods in Europe are “real” (excluding processing and I’m sure chemicals, but to a lesser extent than here in the US). ===========1. I live in a European _developing_ country which kind of has GMO regulations, but, as of summer 2010 when I researched the topic,a) the imported products weren’t checked for GMO (the government had no money for this), so for the thgnis which are frequently imported in wholesale (like, rice from India and you might know that a lot of rice there is GMO), there was a chance that we actually were getting GMO-containing products which were just marked as no GMO.b) the organization which had to do random test checks of the products hadn’t been getting any money for this from the government for several years, and then finally got some last year, but SOME.You might say come on, people are mostly honest, but the trick is that test checks for other thgnis (sausages on how much soy they actually contain, milk products on bad bacterias and % of vegetable oils, blueberry-containing vitamins, etc.,) always give surprising results regarding at least some of the manufacturers in our local market.2. We have quite a lot of local farmers markets. There are 3 types of sellers:* those that just sell the products (they buy them wholesale from the farmers)* farmers or their employees* old ladies with low pensions who keep a near-city for-rent garden or live in a small farm house which always have gardens (it’s happened that pensions in my country are low for most old people, so the way these people are able to support themselves is either by taking money from their well-adjusted grownup kids, or by keeping a garden. Or having a job, if they have the opportunity to.)The products are sold* on official food markets (in theory, the product there are tested by the local laboratory, but bribing is still quite popular in the country, so there is no 100% guarantee in this case)* in vegetable/fruit kiosks* in high-trafficked places, on ad-hoc basis (old ladies, some farmers growing/selling short-seasoned products) obviously their product isn’t tested by laboratories.=== But the trick is:* the farmers (amateur and professional) aren’t educated about safe farming and also don’t test the soil before renting/buying the garden/farm.Example on substance misuse: the local news mentioned a farmer whose produce was rejected (several tons of melons containing 10 times more nitrates than allowed) from the official food market. But our legislation doesn’t force the laboratory to destroy the produce in such cases, so obviously the farmer, to avoid going bankrupt, sold his produce on more friendly’ markets after this.* some territories in the city and near-city have above-the-norm radioactive soil contamination because of the specifics of our local manufacturing company (which actually feeds a big part of the city, so nobody will go against this company ever), and the people aren’t educated on where these spots are.* near-city for-rent gardens are just several big fields divided in patches, so if one of the farmers is using something bad, their neighbouring gardens get contaminated too (via the soil+water cycle or via the air).What I’m saying is each country and maybe even city has its specific local issues Naturally, this doesn’t mean they don’t have to be managed.============ I just bought these two peaches from a supermarket. The small one is organic, while the large one is a conventional peach. I wonder…. how do they make it so large? Chemical pesticides and fertilizers? Probably. ============I don’t really want to object here, I’ll just elaborate on the Probably part, just in case:First, there are different sorts of peaches and because of this and also different climate+soil richness conditions, their sizes can vary. Very basic example: look at the open-air cactuses in Mexico and at the cactus which is a houseplant.Second, there is an artifical selection/selective breeding thing, which is a non-GMO way to get better (bigger, stronger, etc.) animals and vegetables/fruits.Which means that big peaches don’t necessarily contain bad thgnis.

  3. Thank you! I have not tried that. Actually, I’ve never done any cooking with couonct oil at all, but I’ve had several people recommend it recently. I bet that makes for a really different flavor! I will put it on my list of things to try after my last bag is gone. *sniff sniff*

  4. Thanks so much for this Vid all of your Vids. I am a beginning gadrener I am needing all the info I can get. I have enjoyed spending an hour or so each night, watching your past vids. Love the field trips. You are an awesome wealth of info. Keep doing what you do!!

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