Cops Sent to Arrest Illegal Seed Users

In more stunning news of corporate thuggery, and a screaming siren about the abuse of ‘intellectual property,’ Dupont is sending cops to ferret out illegal use of its ‘patented’ seeds.  No longer can a farmer save a portion of his crop for seeding the next year.  If he has Dupont or Monsanto seeds he’s got to pay up every year — like a software license.

By Jack Kaskey – Nov 28, 2012 1:14 PM PT

DuPont Co. (DD), the world’s second- biggest seed company, is sending dozens of former police officers across North America to prevent a practice generations of farmers once took for granted.

The provider of the best-selling genetically modified soybean seed is looking for evidence of farmers illegally saving them from harvests for replanting next season, which is not allowed under sales contracts. The Wilmington, Delaware-based company is inspecting Canadian fields and will begin in the U.S. next year, said Randy Schlatter, a DuPont senior manager.

…Attacks on the modified food industry aren’t new. Farmers criticized Monsanto in the 2008 Oscar-nominated documentary “Food, Inc.” for contracts that keep them from saving seeds. The St. Louis-based company has sued 145 U.S. farmers for saving Roundup Ready soybeans since 1997, winning all 11 cases that went to trial, said Kelli Powers, a Monsanto spokeswoman. The U.S. Supreme Court last month agreed to consider the legality of such planting restrictions.


Maybe this will encourage at least the smaller growers to stop buying the GM seeds and return to practices more in keeping with economic and ecological sense.  There’s got to be a better way than Round Up to keep pests low and productivity high.


Climate Change and the Food We Eat

The SF Chronicle, unique among big, local dailies continues to provide frequent, front-page coverage of the climate change and how our daily lives are, or will, be affected.  This morning it’s what is happening to agriculture in California.

Risks include rising heat, increasing salt in the soil, less water and no insurance.

While wine isn’t in the basic food group as it is in France, it is on most grow-up tables in California.

Napa vintners already are feeling the effects of the changing odds. In 2010, the wine industry had one of its worst years on record when days of record-breaking heat in August were followed by a few freakish days of frost.

“You’re ripening earlier, in a warmer time of the year under a warmer climate, so you’re getting a double whammy,” Weiss said. Even just a week’s difference, he said, can affect the quality of a Cabernet Sauvignon.

Read more:


Cherries, I suppose we could do without and still live pretty good lives, but if the cherry in the hot time has the roll of the canary in the coal-mine we’re in serious trouble.

In April, the cherries were blooming in the Colombini family orchard in the San Joaquin Valley, their blossoms a signal that the harvest would be coming in six weeks.

But there was trouble lurking under those delicate blossoms. Jeff Colombini, director of the family company, Lodi Farming, pointed to the erratic blooming of his trees – a flower here and there, but many stunted, half-grown blossoms. That is a sign, he said, of the “stresses that come with not enough chill hours.”

Most of the highest-quality cherry varieties in the state are tuned for a November or December chill, which slows down the metabolism of the nascent fruit and elongates the ripening process that comes with the onset of warmer weather.

For a perfect California cherry, the trees need 1,200 to 1,400 hours of “chill time.” But Joseph Grant, a UC Cooperative Extension farm adviser in Stockton, said that lately, cherry growers have been seeing more like 1,000 to 1,100 hours per season.

Read more: 

Organic Milk Producers In Deep Trouble

Very sobering article in the NY Times today about the rise and fall of the organic dairy farmer.

[When Ken Preston turned his dairy farm organic in 2005] his income soared 20 percent, and he could finally afford a Chevy Silverado pickup to help out. The dairy conglomerate that distributed his milk wanted everything Mr. Preston could supply. Supermarket orders were skyrocketing.

But soon the price of organic feed shot up. Then the recession hit, and families looking to save on groceries found organic milk easy to do without. Ultimately the conglomerate, with a glut of product, said it would not renew his contract next month, leaving him with nowhere to sell his milk, a victim of trends that are crippling many organic dairy farmers from coast to coast.

For those farmers, the promises of going organic — a steady paycheck and salvation for small family farms — have collapsed in the last six months. As the trend toward organic food consumption slows after years of explosive growth, no sector is in direr shape than the $1.3 billion organic milk industry. Farmers nationwide have been told to cut milk production by as much as 20 percent, and many are talking of shutting down.

Vertical Farms