Thursday, September 24, 2009

Living in DC looking for a bed in Monticello

In a letter to his dear Maria Cosway, Jefferson complained that 'All is politics in this capital.' 220 year later, that characterization remains more valid than ever.

The political fronts were clearly aligned yesterday at the first symposium of the Global Harvest Initiative. Even though not many people knew about this event, (except those inside ag circles in DC) the online debate is heating up.

The Global Harvest Initiative (GHI) "is dedicated to spurring the development and sharing of agricultural innovations with those that need it most. It is underwritten by funding from the Archer Daniels Midland Company, DuPont, John Deere and Monsanto."

Have you seen Matt Damon latest movie The Informant? you should. In the movie, Damon plays the role of a ag technician promoted to senior management that releases secretive information to the FBI about the sketchy business deals of ADM or Archer Daniels Midland, yeah, one of the sponsors of GHI.

There are tons of documentaries and movies about the 'evil' work of Monsanto and DuPont. The point is that all these brand names, working for those that 'need ag innovation the most' should, at the very least, spark some ekeptisim about the real motives behind this iniciative.

So I wasn't surprise when i read the news release from the ad-hoc US Working Group on the Food Crisis, describing how GHI:
"continues to advocate a failed approach to feeding the world and addressing global hunger. The September 22 Global Harvest Initiative Symposium on “Agriculture at a Crossroads”—featuring Senator Richard Lugar—claimed to have some of the “best thinkers” in agriculture, food security and hunger. However, it relied heavily on panelists who have consistently pushed chemical-intensive production; unproven biotechnologies that have been linked to farmers’ loss of land, suicides and environmental contamination; and “free trade” in agriculture as the solutions to feeding the world."
This criticism has merit, after all, these organizations carry a heavy baggage of past corruption and abuses. However, in an already polarized city, critics fail to recognize that fertilizers and biotechnology must play an central role in feeding our current population and the many more to come. Investing in agroecological sciences and biodiverse farming is essential but it won't guarantee the massive production of staples needed to satisfy the demand of a world moving to cities. So rather than focusing on vilification we could promote constructive dialogue by recognizing the validity of some aspects of GHI and work towards an agenda that promotes ag development, safeguards the environment and protects crop diversity....

I know, I know, i'm starting to sound like a politician, well i happen to live in DC, but i wouldn't think twice about moving to Monticello.