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Reposted from TheFatLadySings by rb137

Call me picayune, but yesterday morning, I woke up annoyed with Chris Hayes, Alex Wagner and all my MSNBC friends. My husband was blasting All In over the internet. Alex Wagner was reviewing the new Russel Crowe movie about Noah and the flood.

All parties were amused that the Right Wing has gotten its panties in a bunch over the director's portrayal of Noah as a vegan environmentalist. But, any other fanciful science-fictioney or Gilgameshy deviation from the text notwithstanding, none of the panelists including a Biblical scholar seemed to realize that if one takes the Bible literally, then one must conclude Noah was a vegan environmentalist.

That's right. If you actually take time to read the text, you will find that Noah was a vegan environmentalist.

If he lived today, he'd be a champion of the Endangered Species Act.

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Reposted from joedemocrat by ninkasi23

What would your day be like without your morning coffee?  Your holidays without that Apple Pie?  

Can you imagine a world where these tasty foods and beverages we take for granted are increasingly scarce, expensive, and don't taste as good?  All due to climate change?

According to a recent article in the Huffington Post this is likely to happen in the decades ahead if we don't address the climate crisis.

The article talks about a plant disease called "coffee rust" which is a fungus that spreads to coffee plants resulting in much lower yields or even killing coffee plants altogether.  

Last year, U.S. News & World Report published an article about coffee rust "How Climate Change Could Eventually End Coffee"

One highlight from the article

But in recent years, keeping the world's coffee drinkers supplied has become increasingly difficult: The spread of a deadly fungus that has been linked to global warming and rising global temperatures in the tropical countries where coffee grows has researchers scrambling to create new varieties of coffee plants that can keep pace with these new threats without reducing quality.
The editors also note:
The problem has gotten so bad that on March 18, Starbucks bought its first ever coffee farm, specifically to research new climate change-resistant coffee varieties.
I'm not a big coffee drinker, but I know people who are. There are mainly two types of coffee bean - Arabica and Robusta. The Arabica coffee beans are the premium beans that give coffee a smooth, bold taste. Most coffee drinkers prefer it. Unfortunately, the Arabica bean is the one seriously impacted by climate change.
"Arabicas are the ones at risk—they're very delicate trees," he says. "They depend on conditions that are not too warm, not too cold, not too wet, not too dry."
"Robusta is much more tolerant of climate change, it has better heat tolerance, it's less dependent on orderly rainfall," Rhinehart says. "Unfortunately it doesn't taste as good in the cup."
With climate change, Arabica coffee prices are increasing. The long term consequence will be coffee makers increase the amount of Robusta bean in their blends and your coffee will taste worse.

In 2012, National Geographic published an article "The Last Drop? Climate Change May Raise Coffee Prices, Lower Quality" illustrating how climate change could raise coffee prices and worsen the taste.

Indeed, wild arabica coffee could be extinct in several decades due to climate change.

As I said, I'm not a big coffee drinker. But I'm amazed at how coffee drinkers can tell small changes in coffee. How will people react when climate change messes with their coffee?  

The purpose of this diary is to show that climate change will impact our lives in ways we don't even think about.

Discuss
Reposted from occupystephanie ~ Stephanie Hampton by ninkasi23

Our newspaper, the Corvallis Gazette Times, serves a population which boasts the most Democrats of any town in Oregon but also the highest median level of education in the state. Perhaps those two facts go hand in hand.

The GT (as we call it) covers local concerns with the highest journalistic standards and never shies away from controversy. In our town, it is a must read. Their coverage by Bennett Hall of the recent successful judicial review of the initiative Local Food System Ordinance is a fine example of their work.

What started out as an effort to keep genetically modified crops out of Benton County appears to be morphing into a fight over community versus corporate rights. It’s also part of broader argument that’s playing out in other jurisdictions around the state and around the country.

...snip...

The measure, if approved, would ban the planting of genetically modified organisms, known as GMOs, or the patenting of seeds anywhere in Benton County.

But it would do much more than that: The Benton County Local Food System Ordinance also asserts a fundamental “right to self-government” and denies the authority of the state or federal government to overrule its provisions.

If passed, that would put the county on a collision course with a new state law, Senate Bill 863, which specifically prohibits local governments from attempting to regulate the use or production of agricultural seed.

SB 863 (dubbed "Oregon's Monsanto Protection Act") preempts any local municipality or county from passing regulations concerning agriculture. It was put forward by legislators alarmed at four counties pushing forward with ordinances banning GMO. Due to overwhelming public outcry and many citizen's groups, the preemption bill failed to pass during legislative session. The bill was subsequently "gutted and stuffed" into an appropriations bill during special session to secure Republican votes.

The organization of the Benton County Community Rights coalition was originally formed over the controversial unilateral decision by Katy Coba, Oregon Department of Agriculture director, to overturn the Willamette Valley exclusion zones which had severely restricted the growing of GMO canola. This ODA decision coincided with the sudden appearance of a canola seed processing plant in the midvalley to make biofuel. The cultivation of GMO canola in Benton County alerted farmers in the burgeoning specialty seed industry as well as organic and conventional farmers who feared GMO cross contamination.

The seed growers worried that canola would cross-pollinate with a number of vegetable crops grown in the area. They also feared that GMO canola strains could pass on their genetically engineered traits to non-GMO crops.

Canola had long been excluded from most of the Willamette Valley, but in 2012 the Oregon Department of Agriculture changed the rule to allow it in some areas. The decision set off furious protests from seed growers and their allies, eventually resulting in legislation that restored the old exclusion zone, at least temporarily.

GMO canola is one of the worst offenders of Biotech products because of its propensity to cross contaminate brassica crops. A USDA funded metasurvey of GMO canola in North Dakota by the University of Arkansas done ten years after widespread GMO canola cultivation found a great deal of cross-contamination in roadside weeds. They also found that the genetically modified genes were replicating to such an extent that they found weeds which showed genetic traits of resistance to two herbicides--a product not yet manufactured by Biotech Corporations.

The GMO canola controversy started conversations in the farming community which bore fruit. One proponent of non-GMO canola cultivation was so changed by these conversations that he became a chief petitioner of the Local Food System Ordinance.  

Lindsey was one of the farmers who wanted to be able to plant canola. But after debating the subject with MacCormack, Allen and other local growers, he changed his mind and joined their cause, helping to found the coalition in March 2012.

Now Lindsey sees canola as a symptom of a corporate-dominated agribusiness system that tramples the rights of individual farmers with patented seed lines and genetically modified strains that threaten to pollute natural crops through genetic drift.

“If we don’t draw a line in the sand now,” Lindsey said, “what you’re going to see in five or 10 or 15 years is the erosion of biodiversity and the control of the food system by corporations, taking it out of the hands of farmers.”

These conversation about corporate rights trumping individual rights are rippling through Oregon where communities see the assertion of their inherent rights to self-government as an effective strategy to deal with corporate-gendered problems from toxic waste dumping to log exports.
Last September, residents of eight Oregon counties came together for a daylong conference in Corvallis. The result was the formation of the Oregon Community Rights Network, made up of representatives from Benton, Jackson, Lane, Lincoln, Marion, Multnomah, Yamhill and Josephine counties.

Invoking the Declaration of Independence to justify the need for a radical restructuring of government, 27 delegates signed a document called the Corvallis Declaration of Community Rights. In a series of clauses beginning “We the people,” the group decried the power of corporations and asserted the rights of communities to pass laws protecting local residents from corporate power.

The Community Rights Movement is also making ripples across the United States. Oregon's Community Rights Network is allied with the national Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) which is a public interest law firm founded in 1995 in Pennsylvania whose mission statement is "Building sustainable communities by assisting people to assert their right to local self-government and the rights of nature.”  
To date, CELDF has helped draft more than 160 local ordinances in 10 states aimed at curtailing a wide range of corporate activities, from factory farming and commercial water withdrawals to sludge dumping and fracking.

These laws arise from what Kai Huschke, CELDF’s Spokane-based organizer for the Northwest, calls a “visceral” anger over the actions of big companies and frustration over the ability of state and federal laws to pre-empt local decisions.

“It’s really an evolution of this idea to constitutionally recognize this right to self-governance and also this notion that corporations have more rights than individuals,” Huschke said.

“When you show up in a community where the water can’t be drunk because of hydraulic fracturing, it becomes pretty simple for folks."

Opposing these citizen's efforts to claim their rights are two groups. Oregonians for Food and Shelter whose board of directors includes Michael Diamond of Monsanto and Danelle Farmer of Syngenta Crop Protection; and the Oregon Farm Bureau which has hosted the Monsanto-OFB Golf Classic Golf Tournament for the past nine years to benefit the OFB Political Action Committee.

Both groups have strong ties to Biotech industries, according the The Oregonian Politifact site. This link to Follow the Money on Oregonians for Food and Shelter reveals that they have heavily donated to Republican legislators, at least thirteen of whom are American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) associates which boasts Monsanto as a corporate member since 1992.

So, the deep-pocketed Biotech corporations and their allies are gathered in opposition to this small group in my town. Scott Dahlman, Oregonians for Food and Shelter executive director, was reported in the GT article as saying that even if voters approve the local measures that SB 863 should keep them from being enacted.

Don’t be too sure about that, says Ann Kneeland, a Eugene attorney representing the anti-GMO petitioners in both Lane and Benton counties.

Both measures, she said, are grounded in the bedrock constitutional principle that the people have the right to govern themselves. While the community rights doctrine has not yet faced a full-fledged legal test, she thinks it could hold up in court.

“It’s definitely a radical concept, but it hearkens back to the founding of this country,” Kneeland said. “It’s democracy as it was really intended.”

Discuss
Reposted from pdc by loggersbrat
Received this e-mail from Food Democracy Now! regarding the Monsanto Protection Act:
This week, an amendment to repeal the Monsanto Protection Act could be introduced in Congress by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) during the farm bill debate and we need your help to make sure this blatant corporate handout is no longer law.

The passage of the Monsanto Protection Act was the last straw for millions of Americans and citizens worldwide that are outraged over the continued corruption of our democratic institutions, the contamination of our environment and Monsanto’s relentless march to take over of our food supply.

The Monsanto Protection Act has been called the most outrageous corporate handout in recent history. You were one of the 300,000 Food Democracy Now! members that asked Congress and the White House to prevent it from becoming law last March and we need your help to repeal it today! Because of you, the effort to stop the secret provision has now become the rallying cry of a growing movement of everyday citizens around the world who are committed to stopping the corporate takeover of our food supply.

Click here to tell Congress to repeal the Monsanto Protection Act! It’s time to put people before corporate profits. Help end Monsanto’s takeover of our government and protect farmers, your food and the environment. Every voice counts!

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/...

While Section 735 of H.R. 933 is scheduled to sunset at the end of September, the provision has already spawned similar effort to protect the planting of Monsanto’s GMO crops in several states, including Oregon, Missouri and North Carolina. If a provision similar to the Monsanto Protection Act is slipped into the current Farm Bill it could be law for a minimum of 5 years while seriously undermining family farmers' ability to protect their crops from unwanted genetic contamination.

As Food Democracy Now! widely reported this spring, if the Monsanto Protection Act remains law it will strip federal courts of the authority to halt the sale and planting of potentially illegal and hazardous GMO crops while the U.S. Department of Agriculture reviews their potential risks to farmers and the environment. This represents not only a real risk to our food crops, but also to our democratic process, including judicial review.

Tell Congress to repeal the Monsanto Protection Act! It’s time to fight back! Every voice count!

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/...

Stop the Corporate Takeover of Our Democracy and our Food Supply!

As Congress is in the midst of the farm bill debate this week, Monsanto and biotech lobbyists are continuing to work behind closed doors to try to slip other amendments into the farm bill that offer them unlimited protections or undermine your basic rights. It’s time for that to end!

Tell Congress it’s time to end the corporate takeover of our food supply, repeal the Monsanto Protection Act! It’s time to put the health of our people and our nation over Monsanto’s profits.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/...

Remember, democracy is like a muscle - either you use it or you lose it!

Thanks for participating in food democracy,

Dave, Lisa and the Food Democracy Now! team

you can sign the petition here:

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/...

Discuss
Reposted from pdc by marykk
Received this e-mail today from Senator Jeff Merkley (D. OR):
Summer is here, and you know what I love? Corn on the cob.

Personally, I just like a little butter. Or maybe a little salt and lots of black pepper. (I've heard of a maple syrup and chipotle concoction, but haven't had a chance to try that yet!)

Whether it's corn on the cob, or big juicy tomatoes, or a pint of raspberries, summer is a great time to eat whatever's fresh off the farm -- nature's bounty at its finest.

But these days, it seems that food is a bit more complicated. Additives, preservatives, artificial flavorings - not to mention, genetically-engineered food.

Maybe you want to eat 100% organic. Maybe you don't mind some artificial something-or-other.

But the one thing I think we can all agree on: You should have the right to know and choose what's in your food.

The big multinational food, chemical, and pesticide companies -- like Monsanto, DuPont, and Dow -- would rather keep you in the dark.

That doesn't work for me.  That's why I support the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act.  

I hope you'll join me in calling on the U.S. Senate to pass this critical bill. Whether you're a farmers' market regular or a fast-food junkie, every one of us should have the right to know what we're eating:

http://pac.petitions.moveon.org/...

Senator Jeff Merkley

The Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act was introduced by Senator Barbara Boxer (D. CA) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D. OR).  Here's a little more info:

http://www.boxer.senate.gov/...

Currently, the FDA requires the labeling of over 3,000 ingredients, additives and processes, but the agency has resisted labels for genetically modified foods. In a 1992 policy statement, the FDA allowed GE foods to be marketed without labeling, claiming that these foods were not “materially” different from other foods because the genetic differences could not be recognized by taste, smell or other senses.

Unfortunately, the FDA’s antiquated labeling policy has not kept pace with 21st century food technologies that allow for a wide array of genetic and molecular changes to food that can’t be detected by human senses. Common sense would indicate that GE corn that produces its own insecticide – or is engineered to survive being doused by herbicides – is materially different from traditional corn that does not. Even the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has recognized that these foods are materially different and novel for patent purposes.

Consumers – who are used to reading labels to see if foods contain MSG, trans fats, high fructose corn syrup or aspartame – clearly want more information. More than one and a half million Americans have filed comments with the FDA urging the agency to label GE foods.

The bipartisan legislation introduced today would require clear labels for genetically engineered whole foods and processed foods, including fish and seafood. The measure would direct the FDA to write new labeling standards that are consistent with U.S. labeling standards and international standards.

Sixty-four countries around the world already require the labeling of GE foods, including all the member nations of the European Union, Russia, Japan, China, Australia and New Zealand.

Along with Merkley, the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act is also cosponsored by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Mark Begich (D-AK), Jon Tester (D-MT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM) are cosponsors of the Senate bill. Representatives Jared Polis (D-CO), Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Donna Christensen (D-Virgin Islands), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Peter Welch (D-VT), James Moran (D-VA), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Don Young (R-AK), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), George Miller (D-CA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Ann Kuster (D-NH) are cosponsors of the House bill.  The bill also has the support from several business and organizations.  You can read the list here:

http://www.boxer.senate.gov/...

You can sign Merkley's petition here:

http://pac.petitions.moveon.org/...

Discuss
Reposted from Other Worlds by marykk

By Tory Field and Beverly Bell

Part 21 of the Harvesting Justice series

Just Food in New York City is doing what its name suggests: working to make the food system more just. It does this, first, by making community supported agriculture (CSAs), farmers’ markets, and gardens, more accessible and affordable in the city. Second, it helps small farmers survive, and even thrive, in the process.


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Reposted from Anti-Capitalist Meetup by NY brit expat

There have appeared in this space several thought-provoking attempts to define capitalism, including here and here. Although this might seem to some a mere academic exercise, nothing could be further from the truth: to be effective, activism to change, transform or overthrow any human construction must be rooted in a thorough and accurate understanding thereof.

This is especially important when discussing capitalism, both because its pervasive ubiquity creates a familiarity that masquerades as understanding and because the defenders of the system work tirelessly to spew lies about its virtues. Even more treacherous than the increasingly strained defenses of the system by modern conservatives are the ideological productions of modern liberals who claim a desire to reform capitalism or ameliorate those of its consequences they don’t like.

The key problem is that liberals and conservatives share the same basic understanding of capitalism, which is rooted in the neo-classical revolution in mainstream economics that occurred in the late 19th century. On this view, capitalism is a “natural” system arising from and based on market exchanges between buyers and sellers of commodities, which are assumed to maximize “efficiency” (defined in terms of allowing “supply” and “demand” to set market-clearing prices) and human happiness (defined as the total dollar value of market commodities bought and sold (GDP), regardless of what needs they meet or how they are distributed among the population).

Thus the neo-classical view (like the classical political economy of Adam Smith and David Ricardo that preceded it) is fundamentally ahistorical: capitalism is understood not as a historically specific constellation of economic relations, but rather as the result of encouraging the supposedly natural human tendency to engage in market transactions on a competitive basis with the goal of maximizing profit.

Even worse, the neo-classical assumption that the “market” is a naturally occurring phenomenon forces it to posit an Ideal Type Market—characterized by virtually unrestrained good-faith buying and selling backed up by rules to enforce the terms of transactions—against which historical social formations are measured by the degree to which they approximate the Ideal Type and can be called “capitalistic.” In this view there is of course no room for understanding how the historical economies of pre-capitalist social formations worked on their own terms, because those terms are assumed ab initio to represent flaws, deviations from the Ideal Type that maximizes happiness.

And therein lies the reason that neo-classical economics provides an unstable intellectual foundation for capitalist reformism that unavoidably undermines any case for change, because all such reforms involve straying from the Ideal Type Market. That is why, in televised “debates” about regulation between conservatives and liberals, when the former extol the virtues of the market and call for “non-interference,” the latter start off the same way (Obama does this all the time) and then suddenly pivot to an argument that some specific reform represents an exception to the free market rule. Conservatives thus always come off as more intellectually consistent while liberals seem (and in fact are) intellectually muddled and confused—even when “the facts” seem to stand in their favor.

We, however, are Anti-capitalists, and we need an understanding of capitalism that historicizes it as a system with a definite beginning and, therefore, a possible end. Jump below the squiggle to see how.

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Reposted from teacherken by teacherken

in today's New York Times, titled Abundance Doesn't Mean Health.

Consider the following information, derived from Oxfam's "Good Enough to Eat" index rating of 125 nations:

The results for the United States make a fine case for American exceptionalism, though not in the way chauvinists will find pleasing.

We rank first in food affordability; food is cheap compared with other things we buy, and prices are relatively stable. We also rank highly (4th) in food “quality,” which is measured by (potential) diversity of diet, though access to good water is shockingly low (tied for 41st, about a third of the way down the list).

Then the hammer falls: When it comes to healthy eating as measured by diabetes and obesity rates, we’re 120th: sixth from the bottom, better off only than Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Fiji and our unlucky neighbor Mexico. (Canada fares a little better; it’s 18th worst.) We’re also in a tie (with Belarus and other powerhouses) for 35th in “enough to eat.” Really.

In fact, it’s hard to imagine having a food supply as abundant as ours and doing a worse job with it.

Please keep reading.
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Sat Feb 08, 2014 at 01:21 PM PST

Genetic Roulette in My Town

by occupystephanie

Reposted from occupystephanie ~ Stephanie Hampton by watercarrier4diogenes

I attended a screening of the film Genetic Roulette: The Gamble of our Lives sponsored under the Academy of Lifelong Learning. Our town is an affluent university town and boasts the highest average education in the state, so it offers many opportunities to learn about the world. As the most Democratic county in Oregon (rural as well as urban), progressive ideas find fertile ground.

The audience was not one that would normally turn out for an event of this sort. In that regard, it was the perfect activist’s dream of public education. The couple seated behind me were perhaps a case in point, as they interjected skeptical remarks throughout the movie and the Q & A afterwards.

Leading the discussion was Harry MacCormack , an organic farmer since 1974.  A local luminary, he was cofounder of our Saturday Market and Oregon Tilth, the first entity in the United States to certify organic farms.

Being someone who has always been able to attract a waitperson, I was able to grab the microphone and ask a question that I wanted addressed before the audience.

What is a food shed and how does it relate to food security and emergency preparedness?

Food shed. We understand how a watershed works by gathering the rain which flows to rivers and into our homes. In the same way the concept of a food shed extends that idea to include another essential staple of life: Food.

Harry MacCormack described a food shed as a locally-based regional food system which could ideally supply 30% of food available for residents. Currently, 98% of our food is imported which he described as a “dangerous situation” which would empty the grocery shelves in about a week and half. A few years ago when the Siskiyou pass to California was closed, most Oregon communities experienced food shortages. If the Big Earthquake which is predicted ever strikes, truck traffic would be disrupted for many weeks if not months creating a food emergency. Our county has recently launched an emergency preparedness program which addresses this issue by counseling people to stockpile food, an impossibility for many since 50% of our school-aged students qualify for free or reduced lunch and 20% of our residents fall below the poverty level.

For forty years, our local organic farming community has worked to establish a food shed encompassing three counties stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the Cascades. Our popular farmer’s market is the only one in the state that operates year-round.  We have several groceries with organic foodstuffs, most notably the Co-op which even so imports 73% out of its local 6 region (six surrounding counties).

Harry MacCormack described the most recent effort to establish local food sovereignty by the Benton County Community Rights Coalition. The county has refused to allow an ordinance to be placed on the May ballot, resulting in a lawsuit. The county attorney, buttressed by a Monsanto attorney out of Portland, called the petitioners "domestic terrorists" which was entered in the court record. The fourth and final court hearing is next week and I will report on that.

After the Q & A, I spoke with the couple behind me who turned out to be retired university faculty in engineering and the arts.  Essentially, they viewed the film and the anti-GMO movement as being quite emphatically “anti-Science”.  I agreed that Science was under siege in our nation from evolution to climate change; however, they still could not credit the many scientists and physicians in the film who offered their work in support of the harmfulness of GMO foods. Regardless of their belief in the benignity of GMO products, we did agree on the food security issue. We spoke for about ten minutes, shaking hands as we parted.

One person I met that afternoon was my 27-year-old daughter’s pediatrician.  I told him we thought of him as our beloved physician. The man is ever gentle and sensitive, making him a superb doctor. However, faced with the evidence in the film of children developing allergies and gut problems with the GMO food, he brushed my compliment aside, saying that he ought to have been doing something about this. I reminded him that the 20-year GMO food experiment was done in secret supported by for-profit “science”. My daughter has suffered many gastric tract issues which he knew. I told him that she  had finally improved by switching to a non-gluten diet which was essentially organic and non-GMO.

I will be posting diaries about our continuing food fight.

Discuss
Reposted from occupystephanie ~ Stephanie Hampton by ninkasi23
Long-fought small victories are what Pete Seeger meant when he spoke of a “teaspoon brigade” and the power of small. When asked to comment upon the size of an assembled crowd of tens of thousands, he responded-- ‘Why not a hundred small ones?

Seeger’s metaphor for the teaspoon brigade involved a teeter-totter which had a concrete weight at one end and a porous laundry basket on the other. He asked us to imagine that people were trying to fill it with teaspoons of sand that simply ran out. Others would laugh at them, saying ‘How can you expect to fill that!”. He asked us to further imagine if a lot of people were doing this and it became full, so that people would say, ‘Now how did that happen so quickly?

A basket was filled in my town last week by a small determined group of people who have been loading their teaspoons of sand over the past two years when their Food Bill of Rights Ordinance finally passed Constitutional muster and can now appear on the ballot.

The Ordinance:

The Benton County Local Food System Ordinance establishes a right to local and sustainable food systems, seed heritage, clean air, water and soil for Benton County, and prohibits unsustainable activities – like the planting of GMO’s – that would violate these rights.

These three people—two longtime farmers (organic and conventional) and a former farmer now home baker—represent the growing ranks of local grassroots efforts under the banner of the national Community Rights Movement. Local communities are successfully applying the direct democracy tactics of county and state ballot initiatives to bypass the Federal, State and local officials who are firmly in the grip of corporate interests.

Popular sovereignty, which supports this kind of citizen action, is enshrined in the first article of the Oregon State Constitution:

Article 1: Section 1. Natural rights inherent in the people. We declare that all men, when they form a social compact are equal in right; that all power in inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their peace, safety, and happiness; and they have at all times a right to alter, reform, or abolish the government in such a manner as they think proper.
Long urged by the Progressive movement as the basis for calling a new Constitutional Convention on a national level, these natural rights can be extremely effective on the local level to claim the people’s sovereignty to deal with all the ills brought upon their communities from harmful corporate activities such as fracking to water-despoiling industries to GMO contamination of conventional and organic crops.

Make no mistake, this is a battle for our rights to protect our communities from corporate rapaciousness, and there will be pushback. Congress passed the Monsanto Protection Act which forbade federal courts from halting the sale and propagation of genetically modified seeds and crops if safety tests revealed safety concerns. It was mercifully allowed to die through the prodigious efforts of progressive U.S. Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-Md) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore) backed by overwhelming public support.

Threatened by GMO bans in three counties, the Oregon legislature attempted to pass a bill dubbed the “Oregon Monsanto Protection Act” which would preempt counties and local municipalities from enacting laws concerning agriculture. It failed due to overwhelming public outcry. As we have seen on the federal level, this legislation was “gutted and stuffed” into an appropriations bill in order to secure Republican votes and was made law. Proponents of this law argued that it was necessary to prevent a “crazy patchwork quilt” of ordinances which would hurt commerce.

What if all those crazy quilt squares of local communities and counties keep being stitched together until they form a quilt to cover all thirty-six counties in Oregon?

Lane and Benton Counties’ initiatives have passed judicial review and are on their way to the ballot. Many other Oregon counties have expressed interest in launching their own grassroots initiatives for such ordinances.    

There will likely be legal challenges, particularly concerning Oregon’s Monsanto Protection Act; however, in a contest between the first article of our Constitution and an act that did not pass legislative muster, I am betting on the people to prevail.

Photo by occupystephanie

Caption: Chief petitioners Harry MacCormack, Dana Allen, Clint Lindsey, and their attorney, Ann Kneeland, on the courthouse steps after the ruling that the Local Food System Ordinance had met the constitutional "single subject" requirement for initiatives to be placed on the ballot.

Discuss

Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 03:22 PM PDT

Fish Not Out of Water

by Land of Enchantment

Reposted from Land of Enchantment by marykk

A lot of efforts to protect endangered species get framed as jobs vs. the environment. With salmon, that's not the case. Instead it's a matter of different sectors of the economy at odds with each other. (Those sectors, as it happens, include traditional Native America n economies and cultural practices.) And for a long, long time, salmon - and the tribes - have been on the short end of the stick.

Salmon are anadromous fish, which means their life history requires an entire freshwater watershed, in addition to time spent in the ocean maturing to adulthood. Adults return to their birthplace in the headwaters to spawn, where the young hatch. They make their way downstream, undergoing a major physiological change to transition from fresh water to salt water in a life stage known as smolt, spent in estuaries. They are vulnerable to environmental damage (logging, dreding, filling, dams, toxins, siltation) at any point in their life history, anywhere in the watershed.

Shows various salmon habitat throughout a river watershed in the Puget Sound area, Washington State
And in larger rivers like the Columbia (or the Sacramento or the Klamath) dams like Bonneville and Grand Coulee caused precipitous drops in salmon spawning runs. The good news is that there were more chinook salmon pass upstream at Bonneville in this year's run than there have been since the Army Corps of Engineers built it in the 1930s.
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Reposted from pdc by marykk
Here's some good news for ya:

http://www.rawstory.com/...

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., center, stands newly-elected Senators on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Nov. 17, 2008. From left are, Sen.-Elect Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Sen.-Elect Jeff Merkley, D.Ore.,  Sen.-Elect Tom Udall, D.N.M., Reid, Sen.-Elect Mark Warner, D-Va., Sen.-Elect Kay Hagan, D-N.C., and Sen.-Elect Mark Udall, D-Colo.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Senate Democrats are drafting a government funding bill that would allow the so-called “Monsanto Protection Act” to expire at the end of the month.

According to the New York Daily News, the Republican-supported Farmer Assurance Provision rider will expire on Sep. 30 because it was attached to to the previous Continuing Resolution, and Democrats have no plans to renew it. In a last-ditch effort, Republicans have attached the rider to H.J. Res. 59, the Republican bill to defund Obamacare, but that law stands virtually no chance of passing in the Senate.

The House Republican’s government funding bill, which passed in the House last week, contains a three-month extension of the Monsanto Protection Act, which shields companies like Monsanto and Dow Chemical from legal action resulting from Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) crops. The Act also places the authority of whether or not GMO crops can be grown and sold domestically into the hands of Federal Department of Agriculture rather than with the courts or public referendum. The Democratically-controlled Senate is making no plans to work to keep the rider active beyond its current expiration date. - Raw Story, 9/25/13

Here's a little more info:

http://rt.com/...

The Senate version of the legislation will make clear the provision expires on Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year.

“That provision will be gone,” Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) told Politico.

Pryor chairs the Senate subcommittee on agriculture appropriations.

The Center for Food Safety said the Senate’s eradication of the rider was “a major victory for the food movement” and a “sea change in a political climate that all too often allows corporate earmarks to slide through must-pass legislation.”

“Short-term appropriations bills are not an excuse for Congress to grandfather in bad policy,” said Colin O’Neil, the Center for Food Safety’s director of government affairs.

The biotech rider first made news in March when it was a last-minute addition to the successfully-passed House Agriculture Appropriations Bill for 2013, a short-term funding bill that was approved to avoid a federal government shutdown.

Following the original vote in March, President Barack Obama signed the provision into law as part of larger legislation to avoid a government shutdown. Rallies took place worldwide in May protesting the clandestine effort to protect the powerful companies from judicial scrutiny.

Largely as a result of prior lawsuits, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is required to complete environmental impact statements (EIS) to assess risk prior to both the planting and sale of GMO crops. The extent and effectiveness to which the USDA exercises this rule is in itself a source of serious dispute.

The reviews have been the focus of heated debate between food safety advocacy groups and the biotech industry in the past. In December of 2009, for example, Food Democracy Now collected signatures during the EIS commenting period in a bid to prevent the approval of Monsanto’s GMO alfalfa, which many feared would contaminate organic feed used by dairy farmers; it was approved regardless. - RT- 9/25/13

And Senator Jeff Merkley (D. OR) is praising this as a victory:

http://www.eurasiareview.com/...

“This is a victory for all those who think special interests shouldn’t get special deals. This secret rider, which was slipped into a must-pass spending bill earlier this year, instructed the Secretary of Agriculture to allow GMO crops to be cultivated and sold even when our courts had found they posed a potential risk to farmers of nearby crops, the environment, and human health. I applaud the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have worked hard to end this diabolical provision.” - Eurasia Reviews, 9/25/13
Merkley has long been an outspoken critic of the Monsanto Protection Act:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

Merkley has opposed the measure since it quietly passed in March, when it was attached to another spending resolution. Merkley led an online petition to oppose the extension, and unsuccessfully offered an amendment to the farm bill intended to kill what opponents have dubbed the Monsanto Protection Act. Monsanto is the world's largest seed company. - Huffington Post, 9/24/13
This is good news indeed.  Senator Merkley spearheaded efforts in the Senate against Monsanto and has never given up.  Now it's paying off.  Please do thank Senator Merkley by donating to his 2014 re-election campaign:
https://services.myngp.com/...
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