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Comment Number: AGW-14570
|Sent:||Friday, January 1, 2010 4:32 PM|
4758 Joyfield Road
Frankfort, MI 49635-9721
January 1, 2010
US Department of Justice
Dear US Department of Justice:
Thank you for the opportunity to submit comments in advance of the
Department of Justice's workshops on "Agriculture and Antitrust
Enforcement Issues in Our 21st Century Economy."
Abraham Lincoln once predicted that "The greatest fine art of the future
will be the making of a comfortable living from a small piece of land.",
and at the turn of the century, 50% of we Americans farmed, but now it is
less than 2% of us who farm. And the few of us remaining are being
squeezed out of it to the benefit of a handful of corporations wielding
financial and political power. Where is the representation in our
'representative' government? The current trend in our 'democracy'
controlled by monied interests is leading us into an era of modern
'feudalism', (and if you disagree, I would love to discuss that point with
As an organic farmer and an organic consumer, I am particularly concerned
about Monsanto's control over the seed supply.
We are headed toward one corporation owning most of the crop seed in the
world. When, in the history of our great nation, did we do away with
anti-trust concerns and embrace monopoly? Farmers have saved their own
seed for thousands of years, but increasingly, to Monsanto's advantage, we
are not allowed to! How does this benefit humankind?
I would like to stress that as an organic farmer, I am currently
contending with a future that holds the prospect of having Monsanto's
patented genes drifting onto my land on the wind or being carried by
insects, animals, humans, vehicles, etc., and crossing with my organic
crops, and ending up in my saved seeds, leading to two extremely serious
scenarios: (1) my crop is no longer sellable as organic, and (2) Monsanto
sues me, exacting money from me or forcing me to throw out my saved seed.
Is this something you want a part in? Is this something you want the
history books to reflect as one of your 'achievements'? Where is the
freedom in this 'free' market? Where is the competition in this scenario?
The extent to which our governments help to distribute Monsanto's
patented genes, and the extent to which our courts allow Monsanto to yield
these patents to turn farmers into peasants and to eliminate competition
is the extent to which our great country will lead us back to the
feudalism of the middle ages, and people like me will be indentured
servants on our own land until we have to sell it.
By buying seed companies and aggressively patenting life, Monsanto has
gained control over as much as 90 percent of seed genetics. This is
anti-competitive behavior that skews markets and subjects farmers and
consumers to the unchecked power of a company that can raise prices at
Another concern is that, while Monsanto has acquired a diverse store of
seed genetics, they are only making available a few seeds that are
genetically modified to be dependent on their chemicals.
The vast bounty of food crops that farmers have cultivated and improved
upon over the last 10,000 or so years should not be allowed to be bought
up and put out of commission by a company bent on whittling down food
varieties to a few pesticide-dependent genetically modified crops.
Taking under consideration issues of biodiversity and food security, I
would also like to pose the question: how does it benefit humankind to
replace a vast variety of crops with a limited few 'new' crops with
unpredictable values and consequences? How many of the people making
decisions related to this issue know some basic pertinent history, such
as, for example, the Irish Potato Famine occurring primarily because they
were growing almost exclusively a single potato variety that was
vulnerable to blight, instead of growing a wide variety of potato
varieties, some of which would have survived the blight?
The most devious part of Monsanto's business model is that their
Frankenseeds can cross-pollinate with organic and traditional varieties,
destroying their unique characteristics and infecting them with
genetically engineered chemical dependence or even "Terminator" or
"Traitor" technology that renders seeds sterile, a literal death sentence
for seeds maintained through conventional breeding.
The same way we protect animal species from extinction, we should protect
plant species, especially the tens of thousands of food varieties, from
companies like Monsanto that are consciously eliminating them.
I urge you to please include in your investigation a consideration of the
importance of keeping seeds, the foundation of human life, at least in the
marketplace, if not in the public domain where they truly belong.
I hope that the people 'representing' all us Americans on this matter will
do their best to do diligent research on the factors pertinent to this
issue, and to get information from a variety of sources - not just the
wealthy and politically connected - including those involved in organic
and/or sustainable agriculture, and those representing small farmers, and
those knowledgeable in biodiversity and food security, and those
knowledgeable in the benefits of local food and local economies.