Agricultural Terrorism?

February 10, 2009 § Leave a comment

Geoff Manaugh over at BLDGBLOG, one of my favourite sites, has an interesting bit about a Welsh farmer who found a unique way of protesting Wales’ banning of genitically modified food.  It seems that, upset with the fact that the Welsh assembly did not open the decision up to debate, the dude got himself some genetically modified seed and planted it, grew it, and fed it to local sheep and cattle.  The seed he got was on the EU’s common variety list, making it legal to grow anywhere in the EU. 

This is rather fascinating, in a scary kind of way.  Genetically modified food has kind of become part of our cultural landscape in recent years.  Whether we want to or not, I’m sure most of us consume it if we don’t go out of our way to ensure we eat organic.  But this got me thinking about a case here in Canada a few years back involving a farmer in Saskatchewan.  I’m not sure I’m remembering this completely correctly, but I seem to recall that he was sued by Monsanto for illegally acquiring its GM wheat. From what I recall, he had the seed because it blew onto his farm. 

This, in turn, led me to ponder my general desire to eat organic fruits, veggies, and meat.  Pesticides are kind of a scary thing, I think.  Does the consumption of GM wheat on the part of these Welsh sheep and cattle, even inadvertently, now mean that dairy and meat products that come from them cannot be considered all-natural or organic?  Does this mean that if GM food blows onto a farm or ranch and the animals consume it, or it gets mixed in with the organic seed, that we now have non-organic food?  It would seem to me that that is indeed the case.  So what does this mean for organic farming and meat production?  What does this mean when I head off to Marché Atwater tomorrow and specifically purchase organic beef?  Does this mean that I need to be wondering what this cow ate, that maybe it’s not organic?

Does this count as agricultural terrorism?  One of the responses to Manaugh’s post seems to think so.


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