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I recently watched Food, Inc., with my ten-year-old daughter, who just finished reading the young reader’s version of Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma. The documentary, based on Pollan’s book and the work of Eric Schlosser, was well made and highly accessible to her. It was funny to hear her finally comment, “What’s up with all these companies that ‘decline to be interviewed’?” A valid question….

Bad news from Reuters on a report released by nonprofits The Organic Center (TOC), the Union for Concerned Scientists (UCS) and the Center for Food Safety (CFS): “Biotech crops cause big jump in pesticide use.” 

“This report confirms what we’ve been saying for years,” said Bill Freese, science policy analyst for the Center for Food Safety. “The most common type of genetically engineered crops promotes increased use of pesticides, an epidemic of resistant weeds, and more chemical residues in our foods. This may be profitable for the biotech/pesticide companies, but it’s bad news for farmers, human health and the environment.”

Having just watched Food, Inc.,  the comments from Monsanto (yes, one of those “declined to be interviewed” companies from the movie) in the Reuters piece are particularly creepy for me:

Monsanto officials declined to comment on the report. But the Biotechnology Industry Organization, of which Monsanto is a member, said the popularity of herbicide-resistant crops showed their value outweighs any associated detriments.

“Herbicide resistance crops are incredibly popular with farmers. They help them manage their weed problems in ways traditional crops don’t,” said Mike Wach, BIO managing director of science and regulatory affairs.

“If a farmer feels a crop is causing them more trouble than it is worth they will stop using it,” Wach said. “Farmers are continuing to adopt these crops because they provide benefits, not liabilities and problems.”

This despite the fact that

…biotech corn seed prices in 2010 could be almost three times the cost of conventional seed, while new enhanced biotech soybean seed for 2010 could be 42 percent more than the original biotech version. 

I somehow doubt that farmers can’t wait to spend more money on these seeds, regardless of their purported benefits….

If you are interested in supporting the repair of our broken food systems, I urge you to check out the Food Declaration and add your voice to the clamor for change – the deadline to add your name is Monday, November 30. And in the interest of giving thanks where it is due, send Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan your thanks for the work done thus far here.

As we gather for the Thanksgiving holiday, let’s give some thought (and some aid, whether it’s a donation of food, volunteer hours, or money) to those less fortunate: here are some sobering statistics from the NY Times: “Hunger in US at a 14-Year High.”

If you’re like me and still need to pick up a few things for Thanksgiving dinner (I’m headed to Back Forty Acres to pick up my turkey this afternoon!), consider joining in the Alliance for Fair Food’s National Supermarket Week of Action and dropping a letter to your local store manager to give them the message that you support fair wages and working conditions for farmworkers who produce our food.

And finally, if you do know those who produce the food on your table, give them a huge, personal THANK YOU! Happy Thanksgiving.

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