We can predict our future by our inability to think outside the current task, by clinging to practices that have been proven by a better way, by our apathy, ignorance and sometimes stubborn belligerence. We can also take some good things, too far. We all can do this.
One of these practices that is impacting our future world is the use of synthetic chemicals. Many of the synthetic chemicals for agriculture exploded in use after our nation’s wars like Atrazine (first registered for use in 1959) and Agent Orange (or 2, 4-D) that was used in Vietnam. Some of these synthetic chemicals disrupted many of the historic practices of rotating crops that helped curtail weeds and build up soil naturally.
The synthetic chemicals used in agriculture and some lawn care is a difficult subject to discuss because it’s so broad, diverse and impacts so many – especially here in agriculture country. It’s almost a religious exercise, you either believe in chemicals or you do not – no room for any discussion in many circles. So, as I always do when I decide to venture out into subjects like these, I pause somewhere in the middle of that “religion.” I consider those I know who work for chemical companies. I also consider the farmers. I consider them; but, I also prayerfully keep writing because I am compelled by what’s happening in the bigger picture that impacts all our farms and our entire world. It’s an impact far greater than even the most recent Roundup® resistant weed.
The American Agriculture Movement (AAM) held their grand opening of the AAM History Exhibit in January of this year at none other than the Bayer Museum of Agriculture in Lubbock, Texas. In other news, on a bigger scale, this past year has also brought much talk around the Bayer-Monsanto merger. The irony perhaps, is that many of the farmers in the AAM movement most likely opposed the merger of the two companies.
Regardless, you can visit the museum and see how the AAM tried to change agricultural policies throughout its history. Most famous is probably the 1979 Tractorcade where thousands of the country’s farmers drove their tractors to Washington D.C. The news release about the AAM exhibit included the following quote from AAM President, David Senter, “This is a proud day for AAM to have a place where our children and grandchildren can come to see what their parents and grandparents did to help protect independent family farms. All we ever wanted to do was to farm, but if producers had not taken a stand together, many that are on the farms today would have been lost. AAM will turn our attention to Washington and our broken Congress. Our nation is in a spiraling farm crisis that is putting at risk our next generation of family farmers.”
In the meantime, more mergers – ChemChina and Syngenta and, just days ago, the Dow – DuPont merger wins U.S. antitrust approval too. While the U.S. Justice Department gave conditional approval of the more than $100 billion merger between Dow Chemical and DuPont companies, John Hansen – Nebraska Farmers Union President said in a news release, “. . . The deal creates the largest agriculture biotechnology seed firm in the United States. It’s another example of the continuation of ag concentration across the country.” The release went on to note that Hansen and NeFU believes this will result in higher prices for farmers and fewer choices.
I am not against farmers and I am definitely for true independence and the abundance the land can produce – abundance that supersedes nutrition to areas such as community and family stability. I am also for independent research. I am also for consumers asking questions. I also know chemicals are part of our daily lives. And, while some have been beneficial, many of them have been linked to some cancers, neurological issues and other disorders. That is why I am for a reduction in chemical use and for a continued look at new options that put all our health, including the farmers’ health in mind. I am for this vision unfolding, not by the control of a corporate few, but by and for the public and their collective good.
There’s something thought-provoking to consider when the story regarding the fight to retain our nation’s independent farms and ranches (a number that dwindles every year) is now housed in a museum laden with a chemical company’s name. In his book, “1984,” George Orwell wrote, “Those who control
the present, control the past and those who control the past control the future.” Some companies’ public relations departments call it carefully sculpted words such as “innovation.” However, the history of chemicals and agriculture coincide in a much more coercive and avarice fashion. What it really comes down to is those with the money will continue to make the next merger as we all march along – or we learn a better way and refuse to allow our farms to become history too.