An Open Letter to Mendocino Board of Supervisors
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Board of Supervisors Office
501 Low Gap Road, Room 1090
Ukiah, CA 95482
Jim R. Wattenburger
J. David Colfax
Reference: Mendocino County Tax Revenue Loss & Agricultural Ordinances
Dear Honorable Board of Supervisors,
Mendocino County has historically led our nation in preserving its agricultural heritage for future generations. It has done so by making wise choices in designing regulations for the general welfare that also protects small organic farmers from the unfair practices of big corporations and other special interest groups.
My concerns are the unfair economic pressures being placed on local grocery stores that dictate what they can sell in our county. Mendocino County has laws on the books that are supposed to protect organic farmers, but these good laws are to no avail due to a serious loophole in their structure. This loophole is now being used extensively by huge corporation to economically shut down the last remnant of organic farmers in our county. This trend globally threatens to permanently destroy a way of life we all remember. The health of our community is at stake!
Less then three US corporations control the future food supply of our earth through their monopolistic mass marketing of genetically modified seeds and food known as GMOs. It has now reached the point that they are changing every fruit and vegetable you are familiar with because they have bought up almost all of the independent seed companies worldwide.
Part of their greedy strategy is to insert terminator genes in most fruit and vegetable seeds so as to make farmers absolutely dependant on them. By imbedding terminator genes into food, these mega corporations not only control every farmer by requiring them to pay a license fee to buy their seed originally (even if only one patent protected gene is imbedded), but now farmers cannot collect seed from their own crops. They must buy seed from these big companies every time they want to plant.
Because terminator genes keep the crops grown from producing any of their own seeds that can germinate next time around when planted, we are headed to a time of massive global starvation. As of this writing, scientists are already seeing failures in India’s rice production, and the Japanese government restricts agricultural imports from the US. If even one of those corporations goes bankrupt (like Enron, for example), then farmers would not be able to find original, non-GMO seeds anywhere. They will not be able to plant another crop to feed us. This will have a horrendous affect on our society bigger, perhaps, then even a terrorist strike with nuclear bombs.
Let me give you some facts. First, an illustration of what we are dealing with: think of a mermaid in a city park in a fountain. Question: “Is the mermaid a human being or a fish?” If we cannot decide right off, then we follow it through with more questions like, “If it has no arms, would it be fish?” You may counter, “But that is mythology, and we live in a real world!” Then let me ask you a couple questions from the real world, “Why do we have fish genes imbedded in tomatoes without being labeled? Where do we stop?”
Go to any supermarket, like a Safeway or Costco, and check out what you will actually find there in the produce section. This is the real world and not ancient mysteries. Mendocino County has laws on the book, which allegedly protect local and regional organic farmers, but what do we see on the shelves?
Please notice that most fruit and vegetables have now a little sticker label pasted on with a control number. This control number serves two purposes:
So that lawyers can check out genes imbedded to make sure a license fee is paid, and (This other reason is vastly more important.)
The sticker number identifies the source of the cause of illness or death from when people eat such modified products.
For example, when a spinach field in San Jose, California recently caused several deaths due to bacterial/viral contamination, it made headlines to unsuspecting consumers who trust in our food growth and distribution system. Most people are not educated about the chemicals now used for pesticides and herbicides. They do not know how these chemicals are systemically imbedded in seeds, which then reproduce those chemicals in plants we eat to become biologically antiseptic.
The idea sold to farmers is that they can save money from not buying and applying dangerous pesticides because the pesticide is now genetically imbedded in the seeds and plants, which grow from those seeds. Consumers are not told that genetically embedded pharmacy seeds used by one farmer can pollute or spread to neighboring fields by natural means.In other words organic crops can be involuntarily subjected to contaminated pollen and their economic and nutritional value destroyed by a neighbor’s choice of GMOs.
This means that consumers choosing organic fruits and vegetables may unknowingly eat biologically inserted, drug-laden foods without knowing it. Let me state it again in other words. Many drugs are now produced by genetically imbedding complex chemical proteins into corn or soybeans, for instance. As the plants grow, they biologically manufacture pharmaceutical drugs cheaply that may be especially designed to treat heart ailments or kidney diseases. Healthy people should never eat such drugs as a by-product of enjoying corn or soybeans. Wind and weather, animals, birds and deer population will transfer genetically laded pollen from field to field. The end result is that people will be ignorantly consuming potentially harmful pharmaceutical chemicals. The danger is particularly great for those already taking some doctor prescribed drugs.
I am sure you have read about or seen the reports of wild birds, deer and other animal deaths in the wild. There have been similar deaths of domesticated animals like chickens, ducks and geese. Then there is the increased frequency of unreported mad cow disease cases. What you do not hear anything about on TV is the cause of these outbreaks because the FDA is not doing their job of protecting the consumer. They ignore the appropriate Federal laws and do not respect our local Mendocino laws. The media is careful about not reporting these controversial issues because they need the advertising dollars from these huge corporations, who also spend millions to lobby Congress and the public so that they do not lose their licenses; therefore the consumer is not protected and kept ignorant.
Let’s examine the existing laws spelled out to protect the consumer. For example, in every cookie, cake, or product sold in supermarkets must carry legally defined labels listing their contents. So when we check out our favored cookie at Safeway, we may find 30 or more chemical ingredients mentioned in label. Honestly, I have no idea why they put all of those chemicals in a cookie, but because of the label, I can choose not to buy it.
But let me ask a question? Why is the Federal labeling laws not applied to genetically modified foods (GMOs)? Many other nations do.
As an example, why do GMO onions cost $1.75/ lb now? They are way too large for my kitchen use. Many are bigger then an oversized grapefruit and no longer taste like onions. Yet I can find onions without the sticker in a Mexican small market, which still taste like onions and cost only 25 cent/lb. We need to keep these small markets available to the public.
Have you noticed that potatoes turn green after only four weeks in your storage at home? Producers pump them full of gas to preserve their white color, and then as they lose this bleaching gas, they turn green. Just try making German dumplings with them! The raw potato dumplings dissolve into a gray soup rather then swim delightfully on top of clear boiling water?
In regards to meat, I have heard that bacon has imbedded horse genes in it to reduce the fat? Look at it yourself. Some sliced beacon looks more like red beef jerky to me instead of the pork bellies I have seen all my life. I ask the question, “at what point does the insertion of alien genetic material change the identity of the animal or plant? Does bacon with 50% horse genes violate federal labeling laws? I thought that horsemeat is not allowed to be sold for human consumption in this county, but why is it allowed in bacon? Why can I no longer buy original pork with fat? Why do I need to add butter to the pan in order to fry bacon? Do you know what the unusual red color in bacon is?
Think about the Jewish and Muslim people who are not informed about the genetic manipulation of the meat they are eating. How can it be kosher or halal if the meat is imbedded with unclean animals? Our huge commercial interests show no respect for these religiously based dietary laws, yet the free practice of religion is protected by our federal constitution. Why does the FDA not tell the consumer about what has been added to the cow genes? Check out the beef on the shelf in your Safeway supermarket and notice that the fat is now red or pink and no longer marble white. Also, it is almost tasteless - something indefinable like dry chicken or turkey instead of pork. What unknown foreign animal genes have been inserted in it to make the cows and sheep grow twice as big?
It is expensive for me to travel to Mexico just to have the taste of original beefsteak. I can’t find any beef or lamb in my neighborhood market anymore that doesn’t have that red fat, so I don’t buy it. Are labeling laws only applied to those who cannot pay for lawyer fees, or do we have local laws to protect us from corporate greed to warn us about all these embedded chemicals and genes, which today poison our food without our knowledge?
I could ramble on as a man of 75 years to tell the new generation what they are missing. The wonderful ethnic kitchen that I remember with good old-fashioned vegetables, which smelled vegetable or even simple weeds has now become extinct together with fish, insects, butterflies and other wild life. I see a culture dying in front of our eyes, and the citizens are individually unable to control such evils. You must take action to preserve our 1000-year old food crops in their original genetic form for our future generations, or our grandchildren will be deprived of the decent food their grandfather ate.
Organic farmers are being put out of business by gigantic factories with mass produced food manufactured with artificial colors and flavored with dangerous chemicals you do not want to know about. Cows in feedlots are still forced to eat animal byproducts that we know increases the risk of mad cow disease – even though you no longer hear about it in the news. There is a reason why Japan still doesn’t buy American produced beef or rice. Will these artificial Frankenstein foods fool people forever?
Let me give you a last example that affects my home in this county. The potential exists to totally devastate the Mendocino County tax base if no controls are put into place. Time is running out! We need to act before it is too late.
I am a retired scientist from the Bay area and became a farmer owning a vineyard in Philo. My future projection for a wine industry is foreboding due to what I have learned since I started over 10 years ago. In about 5 years from now, we will see a gigantic screw-up in the Californian grape growing industry similar to what happened twenty years ago. Remember when the “experts” planted what was supposed to be a superior, genetically modified grape rootstock?
That fiasco cost billions of dollars and affected every grower - large or small, rich or poor. I was told, as a new vineyard planter, that University of California Davis sold their entire, massive inventory of genetically modified rootstock with the full knowledge that it was contaminated. They knew that every vine planted would die in about 10 years. Market conditions following that massive destruction were a primary reason why I invested my retirement in a vineyard. Partly, I expected to make money and partly I hoped to help save the industry. It took 20 years for the wine industry to replace 90% of the vines in California with healthy rootstock.
Now I note that grapes are on the list for genetic modification by the same university department. I already see vineyards covered with a fine mesh to keep birds from transmitting these pollens to neighboring vineyards. That is not enough to keep my vineyard and hundreds of others’ acres from being polluted by these genetically modified grape vines. The potential is there to destroy the production of unmodified grapes and wines, which will totally erode property values and revenue to the county tax coffers.
Our wine industry will collapse quicker then a San Francisco earthquake tumbled high rises. It will be impossible for us to compete with foreign wine producers who can claim original vines producing grapes and juice not genetically modified. The California wine industry could end up with the same frustrating problems that Mexican farmers struggle with when they find huge genetically modified gigantic corn popping up in the middle of their fields planted with traditional seed. You can see their ruined fields for yourself in the magazines referenced at the end of my letter, or you can read about it in the Sacramento Bee.
Perry Schmeiser made on a special trip from Canada at his own expense to warn Mendocino County at the time of the previous election. Will we listen to him? He was put out of business the same way. Will our organic farmers follow the same destructive trail? Will foreign wine producers invade our markets after the reputation of our own wines is destroyed over night? Our reputation for superior, classic wines has taken hundreds of years to build up. Why should we let genetically modified mixed and matched vineyards destroy neighboring vineyards through random genetic modification so that our grapes are only good enough for a “two buck chuck” bottle?
I urge our supervisors to become informed! We need to ban the planting of genetically modified grape vines. Our county needs to introduce labeling laws for genetically modified vegetables, fruit and meat products in our county. It is the only way to slow down future disasters.
Let the consumer eat the modified food if they want, but let the information be there for us to make an informed choice! This will help an organic farmer to preserve our produce heritage. At least it will give a message for future generations to remember our struggle against corporate greed gone out of control, just as our patriotic ancestors fought against the imperial powers of Europe 200 years ago.
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