Food and Water Security Part 1 – Allan Parker

13 Nov

This is part 1 of a three part series. In the next post we will look at problems with our water management. Part 3 will be all about solutions.

The two main concerns with food sovereignty are availability and quality. Many people have noticed that in the grocery stores the quantities are getting smaller and the prices elevate or stay the same. People aren’t really sure what they’re buying anymore.

When you get right down to it, food and water security are essential to freedom. They are what allows us to take care of ourselves. What’s happening over the last few years with globalization is the food producers, especially in the northern climates, are getting further and further apart. And we saw last year a clear danger of what can happen as a result, where a weather event froze the tomatoes in California and Mexico and suddenly there was a shortage of just one crop. This could easily happen on a much larger scale.

Statitsics show the average food product on the shelf is traveling 1500 miles to get here. If you follow it down the chain it’s the oil companies that are in control. This has the potential for many dangers.

If the supply lines were to stop the food would stop flowing. There are many reasons why they could stop, for example if there was an influenza outbreak and people stopped going to work because they were afraid of contracting the disease.  At this point in North America cities like Calgary have on average roughly a three day supply of food.

We found ourself in this situation through over a hundred years of industrial monocrop farming using fertilizers which have leeched the soil an depleted the topsoil to the point where most large farms are almost incapable of producing any kind of vegetable crop without using fertilizer.

This is something that is highly overlooked and it’s only recently that people are starting to catch on to how important this is. We need to start educating people in university about how to maintain our soil.

There are examples of people getting e coli poisoning from lettuce. In Mexico there is human sewage flowing into the fields where they grow lettuce and spinach. This is an incredibly dangerous practice and it travels all the way across the continent.

Companies like Monsanto experiment with genetically altering food crops. They’ve gotten into some really weird sci-fi stuff where they’re putting flounder genes, fish genes into tomatoes to make them frost resistant. We have products on the shelf that taste and look like a tomato but there is very little nutritional value. We really don’t know what these modified crops are doing to our health.

Monsanto has managed to control nearly the entire soybean and corn crop in North America. They are trying to move into Mexico. There continue to be court decisions that favor them to the point where now if they find their genetic property in anybody’s crop, which is spread by pollen, they own that person’s crop by legal entitlement.

I’ve spoken with many local farmers who have gone onto the Monsanto program. Monsanto produces crops that are resistant to Monsanto’s pesticides. In other words you plant Monsanto crops and then you can use Round Up to kill all the weeds. A farmer I spoke to last winter says that after 2 years he’s seeing the same weeds that he killed with Round Up coming back with their own naturally evolved resistance to the pesticide.

There has been no long term scientific study done on the effects of eating these products. There is some scientific evidence coming to light recently showing that it’s detrimental to cattle and other livestock that are eating them. That stuff is going into their system, then we eat the livestock and it is going into our systems.

Monsanto has been around for over 100 years. They’ve done a lot of work for the military. They invented agent orange and nerve gas. They also invented saccharine which was supposed to be A-OK but we later found out that it was harmful to us physically.

The requirement that all foodstuffs to be labeled with a complete list of ingredients and nutritional values is a Health Canada mandate. Yet they do not require anything with a GMO product in it to be labeled with that information. At this point 90% of the products in our supermarkets have GMO products in them.

Canadians need to demand to know what’s in their food. If you have children you’re probably concerned about what you’re actually feeding them. We need to know if there are GMO products in what we’re eating. We need to know where they come from. What countries do they come from, are they using equitable and sustainable growing practices?

This is really about our earth. We don’t have anywhere else to go. It’s not like we can go grow corn on Mars. This is all we’ve got. The question I want to ask everyone out there is: are you willing to allow the same people that have created the monetary system and the unnecessary addiction to oil to control our food and water supplies?

Canada has slipped from third to seventh place as a world food producer. The government is encouraging people more and more to get on board with companies like Monsanto and pushing the monocrop ideal. There are forces at work buying huge pieces of land in India and Africa and creating giant monoculture systems that do not work. They leech the soil and become less and less productive over time. We really need to rethink this and start thinking about the field to table idea.

Since 1900, 90percent of the vegetable crops that we used to see on our tables are now extinct because the new industrialized farming ideal has pushed them aside to the point where they are gone. There may be some feral species left out there somewhere. I hope there are and that they can be found and restored. But how many more will we lose in the name of profits and control to some major corporation?

About these ads

12 Responses to “Food and Water Security Part 1 – Allan Parker”

  1. allan parker December 15, 2011 at 1:05 am #

    more to consider:

    http://www.countercurrents.org/heinberg141211.htm

  2. allan parker December 9, 2011 at 10:19 pm #

    more on mosanto

    http://wakeup-world.com/2011/11/10/monsantos-crimes-against-humanity/

  3. allan parker December 8, 2011 at 5:53 pm #

    hope this answers some of your questions .Thanks to Harper this very same thing will be happening in canada very soon.

    http://wakeup-world.com/2011/12/09/occupy-your-food-supply-progressive-farmers-march-seeks-to-bridge-the-urban-rural-divide/

  4. allan parker November 20, 2011 at 3:24 pm #

    thank you very much for all of your comments. Many of the comments I made were very general and there is simply not enough space to approach some of these topics indepth in a short article. You all have given many things to research and verify . There are some answers to you questions in the two follow up articles , thank you.

  5. Jan Bacon November 15, 2011 at 9:44 pm #

    Hi Allan, I forwarded this link to a couple of my friends, one of them a farmer in northern Alberta… I asked them to help me because all this seemed so far over my head. Here are the answers I received, I do hope you don’t mind that this is second hand, but it certainly gave me more food for thought. (no pun intended, Jan)

    1- I don’t think we pay enough for our food – it is undervalued and under-appreciated. I think the quantities SHOULD be smaller and SHOULD cost more. Does this guy have ANY idea how much money it costs to run a farm? We SHOULD be spending more money from our paycheques to pay for our food and less on all the frivolous junk that we think we need.

    2 – I remember a time when certain food were only available at certain times of the year (watermelons, mandarin oranges, papayas, ….). Now we expect them to be available year-round. If there should be a shortage of one particular crop, then maybe that would be a wake-up call to all the consumers out there that the grocery store DOESN’T grow the food.

    3 – No, it’s the consumers who are in control, Mr Parker. You and me. Plain and simple.

    4 – How has the use of fertilizers leached the soil? Organic or not, soils require fertilizers in order to grow crops. Without them our crops would be poor and the soil WOULD be depleted. This sentence makes no sense. Sure, if we grew crops on virgin soil ONCE and never grew them there again, we may not need extra fertilizer. This, obviously, isn’t practical.

    5 – ORGANIC FARMING is NOT the way to do this. Organic farming uses mainly tillage to reduce weeds in their crops and high-tillage soil has FEWER micro-organisms in it than no-till (but conventionally farmed) farming practices.

    6 – (regarding the e-coli in Mexico) So… we should use chemical fertilizers then, yes? Wouldn’t want to leach the soil….

    7 – Companies LIKE Monsanto? What exactly does this mean???.

    8 – this was done experimentally. These tomatoes NEVER, EVER made it to market – NEVER into the “food chain” and the one and only type of genetically altered tomato was “taken off the market” a decade ago because it wasn’t economically feasible. Incidentally, it wasn’t developed by Monsanto and was sold in the UK as well as North America). We have products on the shelf that taste and look like a tomato but there is very little nutritional value. We really don’t know what these modified crops are doing to our health. Maybe if we ate tomatoes grown in season, they would be more nutritious. But then we’d have to do without them for the rest of the year, and that would never do…

    9 – Partial truths. If Monsanto feels that someone has stolen their technology, they can sue for damages. They do not own the crop. Pollination is not an efficient way to transfer the genetic information amongst “closed pollination” plants, such as soybeans and Argentine canola. There was a case in Saskatchewan of a farmer called Schmeiser who was up against Monsanto for apparently selling Round-Up Ready canola that he said “came into his crop due to pollination”. He lost the case because he couldn’t prove it and it seemed more likely that he was just harvesting volunteer Round Up ready canola and selling it for seed. Our agreement with Monsanto does state that we cannot save our seed and grow canola from it. This is not unlike some other agreements, including Plant Breeders Rights, which is charged on the sale of seed to return money to the breeder. Rather like a computer software licensing agreement.

    10 – Again, partial truths. They aren’t necessarily resistant to a herbicide/pesticide (pesticide sounds so much scarier…) The crop may be resistant to insects, for instance: Bt corn, which has a gene from a particular bacillus that makes the crop resistant to corn borer SO IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE SPRAYED WITH AN ADDITIONAL INSECTICIDE.

    11- Sorry. This is hooey. Plants can’t develop resistance that quickly. Some weeds are naturally hard to kill with glyphosate (thistles, for instance, in the spring are nearly impossible to kill with round-up, but that has nothing to do with chemical resistance. It has to do with the biology of the plant). I wonder “which farmers” he talked to. As far as we know, there are no naturally occurring plants in North America that are naturally resistant to glyphosate at this time (we’d have to confirm this). No weeds in our farming operation are round-up resistant, though.

    12 – GMOs have been around and in our food for 25 years. What is “long-term”? And although I don’t know for sure, I can’t imagine that there haven’t been studies done on some of the most controversial method of “crop improvement” to come along in 2000 years. However, I have nothing to back up MY thoughts here, so I’d better not spout misinformation.

    13 – Um… we still put fire-retardants in babies clothing and mattresses, formaldehyde in flooring and possible carcinogens in our shampoo, … and we can’t blame that on Monsanto. And Nerve Gas? Well, sure. But I’d rather sit the guy down who invented Febreze and give him a good eye-poking, rather than the guy who invented nerve gas during the war. I doubt Monsanto ever claimed that Agent Orange was good for you… they were just hired to make a chemical that defoliated plants so the Americans could win the war. And look! They lost.

    14 – Sure – label them. And people then have the option of finding products with no GMOs in them. I have no problem with this. Might be a little hard to find anything to eat, though, if that 90% is indeed true.

    15 – Did you drive to work today, Mr. Parker? Do you get paid for your job? Do you eat tomatoes on your sandwiches? Do you live in a house that sits on land that was once fertile farmland?

    16 – WE’RE farmers and we’ve never heard a THING from the government, encouraging us to grow monocrops and to use Monsanto. Maybe we’re out of the loop, though. We’ve got some of the best farmland in the world and we plunk houses on it. Africa has a lot of people and some pretty crappy farmland – they’re trying to grow their own food and we beat them up for it??? And their farmland isn’t fertile to begin with, so saying that they’re leaching nutrients from it… well, I guess that may indeed be the case. Maybe we need to ship them some fertilizer then. And some herbicides. I’ll call Monsanto.

    17 – I’d like to know where he got this number from. 90% of heritage crops are extinct? Well, maybe not grown anymore in large quantities, but not extinct. And feral species? What the heck does that mean? Species of What, exactly? “Feral potatoes”? The cultivars that exist today and are grown in large quantities are used in production because they produce lots of food and are disease/pest resistant (thus FEWER SPRAYS on them). We’ve reached 7 billion people and we need to feed our planet. That’s the bottom line.

    As an added point: Without GMO crops, we would be growing crops that would require far more sprays to produce a decent yield. Personally, I’d rather eat a tortilla chip made with GMO corn that was sprayed ONCE with Round-up, rather than sprayed 4 times with far more dangerous sprays in order to get the same yield. And don’t even get me STARTED on bio-fuels. I’d rant for days. And as for India and Africa ruining their soil… I’ll bet that if we were able to genetically modify some crops to grow in crappy soil (a type of corn, for instance, with the genes from a legume put in it so it could fix its own nitrogen in the soil ) – this would be a good thing. They could then build their soil up, rather than degrading it further. Yay for GMOs.
    I apologize if I’ve hit a nerve commenting on this, but we have read so many articles written with partial-truths and out-right lies about “the evils of farming”. I’m all for growing stuff organically – don’t get me wrong, but for mass production – feeding 7 billion – I think it’s necessary to employ a little help from “the big corporations”.
    ————

    so Allan, after hearing both sides here, I must admit I am totally confused, but that’s not a new event ;)
    Jan

    • idnami November 20, 2011 at 1:46 am #

      WOW.
      Tell your friend thank you for the detailed reply. I do not have enough knowledge of either side to comment on the subject. I do appreciate the opposing viewpoint and the passionate answer.

  6. Jan Bacon November 13, 2011 at 5:53 pm #

    Short story…
    We live on the Arrow Lake (south of Revelstoke) in the summers… our lake is dammed at both ends so water levels fluctuate depending on the needs of the US (but that’s another story).
    One year BC Hydro wanted to work on the dam below and knew the lowest water levels would create valleys full of dust bowls. So they planted something called Canary Reed Grass which is non-native to the area and fertilized the *heck* out of it. 12 years later this stuff has spread up off the lake bottom and is creeping up my pathways. Trust me, I bit the bullet, and tried… Round-Up does nothing. No more Forget-Me-Nots in the spring, no field violets, even overtakes the clover and daisies. No flowers for the bees or hummers.
    However… there is hope… where the lake water rises each year, the native grasses are gradually taking over from this other stuff. Without the means to flood my land each year, I have to pull it by hand on dry land.

Discuss!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 29 other followers

%d bloggers like this: