I read an article this morning about the farmer who was acquitted for producing milk without a license in Wisconsin. I was so happy to hear it but I have to stop and ask, “How did we get here?” This country was built on the backs of farmers. Over the last 62 years farms have dwindled in population throughout the country. According to the USDA, in 1950 there were 5,647,800 farms in the United States (excluding Alaska & Hawaii) and as of 2012 the number had dropped to 2,170,000. The number of food producing farms has decreased significantly while the population has continued to multiply.
Over the last several years more and more people are becoming aware of the danger of our food sources being industrialized. There have been numerous documentaries such as
Food, Inc and Food Matters showcasing the changes in the industry and the attack on the American farmer. With increasing regulations and political involvement the local farmer is being forced to participate in the industrialization of his/her farm or face being bullied into bankruptcy by astronomical fines and unending legal battles.
The following excerpt is from an article posted on Mercola.com (click link for the full article):
50+ Industry Front Groups Form New Alliance to ‘Balance Public Dialogue’ on Food Production
As reported by Sustainable Food News15 on March 17, more than 50 of these front groups, working on behalf of food and biotechnology trade groups, have formed a brand new alliance called Alliance to Feed the Future. Again, the alliance is being coordinated by the glutamate-protecting International Food Information Council (IFIC). The stated aim of the alliance is to “balance the public dialogue on modern agriculture and large-scale food production.”
“The Alliance to Feed the Future said “in an effort to meet the world’s increasing food needs responsibly, efficiently and affordably,” its members want to ‘tell the real story of’ and dispel “misperceptions about modern food production and technology,’” the article states.16
The groups comprising the alliance represent multi-national food, biotech, and chemical companies that generate hundreds of billions of dollars-worth of revenue each year. Some of the most notable of these 50 industry groups include the very players already mentioned in this article. For the full list of all 50+ groups that are part of the alliance, please see the original article:17
American Soybean Association Biotechnology Industry Organization (which represents biotech crop giants Monsanto, DuPont, and Syngenta) Calorie Control Council (which represents the artificial sweetener industry) Council for Biotechnology Information Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) International Food Additives Council (IFAC)
According to the featured article:18
“When asked by Sustainable Food News what misperceptions the group seeks to dispel, Dave Schmidt, CEO at the International Food Information Council, who coordinates the alliance, said the most common misperceptions – perpetuated by what he calls ‘a large popular culture’ that can be found in recent ‘books and movies’ – are that ‘technology is bad and we need to go back to a time when there was less technology. Or, food processing or large-scale food production is bad.’
…The alliance’s aim is to educate who he called ‘opinion leaders,’ including those in the university sector, professional societies, journalists and government officials. However, another target demographic is the ‘informed consumer,’ who he expects will find the group’s information online.
The Alliance’s effort appears to be an attempt to squelch the growing consumer perception that modern food production can have a negative impact on the health of humans and the environment as espoused by the organic and sustainable food movement.” [Emphasis mine]
Meanwhile, close to a dozen of the members of this new industry alliance have resigned from the Leonardo Academy’s National Sustainable Agriculture Standards Committee,19 which is currently developing a national standard for sustainable agriculture under the rules of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). According to Russell Williams of the American Farm Bureau Federation, this exodus occurred because:
“…the committee is dominated by environmental groups, certification consultants, agro-ecology and organic farming proponents. Based on their recent actions, it is apparent that these groups have neither the vision nor desire to speak for mainstream agriculture or the 95 percent of farmers who will be materially affected by any resulting standard.”
Where do we go from here?
Get involved in your food! Educate yourself and your family. Do a little research on the products your family is eating and find out where it comes from and what ingredients it contains. Buy local when you can. Almost every city has one or more farmer’s market where you can buy local produce and other products. http://www.farmersmarket.com/ Grow your own garden! Not everyone had sprawling acres to become a farmer, but there are many options for limited space to grow produce and herbs in your own yard. Container gardens are growing increasingly more popular. If we all contribute just a little, we can make big changes in our food industry!