Anti-biotech pen pal absent, but OCA e-mail taking place

Haven't heard from my Mendocino County pen pal Jack Hayward II since we corresponded last summer. Apparently he said all he wanted on the issue of biotech agriculture or maybe he did not want any more of his intellectually stimulating e-mails to appear in print.

A new pen pal, spurred on by that “California anti-biotech group,” Organic Consumers Association (OCA) of Minnesota, surfaced after the election and after one of my biotech commentaries. His e-mails are a bit vile for a commentary during the holiday season. Maybe later if I can make it readable with all the blanks necessary to eliminate the depravity.

Went surfing on the OCA Web site in search of any official OCA affiliation for my pen pal. Did not find him there, but gleaned the following “new release” posted after the general election:

“Yesterday, while millions of Americans went to the polls in record numbers, Marin County, voted to ban the cultivation of Genetically Engineered (GE) crops.

Marin County joins Mendocino and Trinity becoming the next county to ban genetically engineered crops.

“Despite the Farm Bureau's statewide misinformation campaign, the people in Marin have spoken: we do not want GE crops,” says Ronnie Cummins, executive director of the Organic Consumers Association.

Marin County forms an integral piece in a nationwide movement of local communities reclaiming their BioDemocrcy, building local, organic communities dedicated to safe food, fair prices for farmers and long-term sustainability. Next in line are several other California counties and cities, including Sonoma and Alameda counties, as well as the city of Arcata.

“Marin County's decision is the next step in creating a statewide ban on genetically engineered crops,” according to Ryan Zinn, California campaign coordinator for the Organic Consumers Association. “California's future depends on safe, organic, farmer-centered food and agriculture.”

These radicals will not quit. Not surprising, there was no mention on the OCA Web site of the anti-biotech initiative defeats in Butte, Humboldt and San Luis Obispo counties.

I have had my fun with OCA and friends, but I have also been cornered by respected farmers, pest control advisers and others who have concern about where this biotech is headed. Maybe not so much in ag, but in other areas. Some believe there should be more information about the direction of biotech.

And, there are those who believe ag biotech is being crammed down American agriculture's throat. I really do not believe that is true. However, it is a controversial subject and in the news often, making it appear as if corporate biotech firms are doing a hard sell.

Regardless, I appreciate respected professionals expressing their thoughts on the subject. As much as I may believe biotech offers tremendous potential, biotech corporations should not be unnecessarily secretive about what they are doing. The technology should be evaluated by recognized third-party scientists in peer review research.

There have been corporate blunders in commercializing ag biotech. It has hurt biotech's standing with farmers and the public. There does not need to be any more informational gaffes. There is too much at stake not to be totally transparent.

Happy Holidays from Western Farm Press.

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