No visit materializes with new best friend environmentalist

Several people have asked if I connected with my new best environmentalist friend and eastern Oregon farmer Doug Behrends at the Tulare farm show.

Unfortunately, Doug and I did not connect at World Ag Expo as he hoped we would — as expressed in our e-mail exchange a few weeks back.

I tried to catch his eye. I had Monsanto dollars sticking out of every pocket of my jeans and coat. One morning it was chilly, so I stuck Monsanto-issued $100 bills under the edge of my cap and used them as flaps over my ears like those ski caps so popular now.

I was carrying my digital camera and a notebook. Even had a name tag on, but the learned and articulate Mr. Behrends did not approach me to correct the error of my ways about dastardly Roundup Ready alfalfa and other transgenic monsters of the fields. I was very interested to hear his science about how Bt corn is the reason for honey bee Colony Collapse Disorder. I was curious how a naturally occurring pesticide, Bt, that only kills lepidopterous pests, can kill a different species like a honey bee.

Alas, our meeting did not happen. In all fairness to Mr. Behrends, I was only at the Western Farm Press booth in Pavilion C for about an hour total during the two days I was at World Ag Expo. He may have come by the booth. However, if he did, he did not leave his card or cell phone number, so I could catch up with him on the showgrounds.

I truly appreciate getting responses to my rantings in this space. I am only sorry I cannot tell you of a face-to-face meeting with Mr. Behrends. I had a roll of toilet paper in my bag for taking notes, so I could remember all he elucidated to me. (Remember, he said I wrote my commentaries on paper normally found in bathrooms.)

I did receive a nice e-mail from a person who said she enjoyed my exchange with Mr. Behrends. She got the impression that we were just bantering back and forth in a joking manner and if we met, we’d probably be “good friends.”

“I’m dying to know if you became friends or if you stole his horse and lit his buggy on fire,” she wrote jokingly. (I accused Mr. Behrends of being so far behind the times that I expected him to travel by horse and buggy to the farm show.)

This writer took my exchange with Mr. Behrends as humorous — a bit light-hearted. I appreciate that. I try not to be mean-spirited in my exchange with all my radical environmentalist friends.

However, I am as serious as a heart attack when I defend agricultural biotechnology. Those who attack it have an agenda and that is to destroy this new technology for reasons I still do not fully comprehend. The leaders of the anti-biotech movement are anti-corporate America and many are basically anti-society. I don’t know if Mr. Behrends fits that later characterization. As a farmer, I would hope not. I would hope he is simply ill-informed, yet passionate in his opinion of biotech crops.

People have a right to their views in America, but they do not have the right, in my opinion, to manipulate the courts and the mass media into believing the blatant misinformation they spew.

To me it is like yelling fire in a crowded theater. Is that free speech or a criminal act? I believe the efforts of the San Francisco group leading the court fight to keep RR alfalfa off the market, border on criminal action. It certainly is using the court system to bolster an agenda and not protect anyone or anything.

Every argument they have tossed at the federal judge in the Roundup Ready alfalfa case is ludicrous. Environmental impact from cross-pollination on seed and forage fields of Roundup Ready alfalfa is no different from the environmental impact that has existed forever in conventional seed and forage production.

No one has filed suit to make USDA do an environmental impact assessment on the contamination of one conventional alfalfa variety seed field with one miles away. If a Roundup Ready alfalfa seed or forage field can contaminate a non-transgenic field, why aren’t these farmer-protecting environmentalists concerned about Joe Blow Seed Company Propriety Variety 1234 contaminating Sam Smith Seed Company Propriety 5678 seed or forage field close by?

By golly, when I buy Variety 1234, I don’t want any of the 5678 traits, dormancy characteristics or anything else in my 1234. Protect me Center for Food Safety.

This anti-biotech movement’s impact is far greater than dollars, as in the millions being lost by preventing the use of a new technology that offers huge, positive environmental impacts and significant added income for alfalfa growers who want to grow RR alfalfa.

It goes to the issue of feeding and caring for people in undeveloped countries. It goes to the issue of biotech Golden Rice containing high levels of Vitamin A to prevent 500,000 children from going blind still not being available to the world.

Yes, I would have been courteous to Mr. Behrends had we crossed paths at Tulare. I would not have burned his wagon or stolen his horse. However, I will not swallow one drop of the anti-biotech bologna arguments he or others like him gush out.

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