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What Will Survive?

Discussion in 'Back to Basics' started by Seacowboys, Jan 31, 2011.

  1. Seacowboys

    Seacowboys Senior Member Founding Member

    My Formula for Recapturing Our Nation
    I believe the loss of our liberty began with Monsanto and the death of the small American Farm. Monsanto and their minion, the corporate farm, destroyed the small family farmer and with it, the means of community segregation. Monopoly was created with the introduction of hybrid seeds. Now total control of the world food supply is in the hands of a mega-corporation. We were sold the many advantages of this; strawberries now are several times larger than they were ever meant to be and much more disease resistant and plants produce many times more fruit and only sacrificed flavor and the ability to germinate and control your own production of them. Look at what they make from soy, everything from plastic to meat substitutes but did you ever hear of native American soy?

    It is pretty clear that the “everyone has one of everything” economy has spiraled beyond it’s ability to regenerate. There is a massive herding of population into the urban centers by the corporate rulers, to better keep their slave labor in control and those of us the break the mold and become preppers, get labeled “extremists” and pushed to tin-foil hat lounge or Gitmo. It is my contention, that the only means of recovery is to revert to the principal of community segregation. The small farm has to recover and take over the roll of subsidizing the community. Cottage industry and communal labor will feed this system rather than feed on it, such as the present apparent. If one community produces a surplus of milk and dairy products, it will trade with their neighbor that had a bumper crop of peas and carrots. Eventually, community buyers will expand their territory to find the rest of the needs of the community and a new currency will be delegated in trade notes worth X-number of calories, BTUs, or whatever other energy standard is created to take the place of the worthless paper presently foisted on us by our masters. The logic of a monetary system based on useless paper or metal totally escapes me when it is apparent that all life exists as energy and requires fuel in one form or another.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 14, 2014
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  2. BAT1

    BAT1 Cowboys know no fear

    Whole Foods has now co-opted with them, Monsanto won over their CEO. I knew it was just a matter of time before their GMO pollen would infect natural food producers. We'll have to start dropping tubes of heirloom seeds to keep away from it and use greenhouses to try to keep the cross pollination.
    I agree, community segregation is the key. I'm sure they will counter with some law restricting that too.
  3. Falcon15

    Falcon15 Falco Peregrinus

    Stash those Heirlooms.
  4. Equilibrium

    Equilibrium Monkey++

    It's nice to "stash" heirlooms but if you don't know how to grow them and stop cross pollination thinking a greenhouse is the silver bullet that'll stop cross-pollination.... there's really no point to the exercise. Growing more of our own food is not easy and we'll all be in for some major league life style changes kissing away a good portion of any leisure time we had once spring hits. I thought it would be a walk in the park and it wasn't. The learning curve was beyond my wildest imagination and if you want some incentive moving beyond the "stashing" of seeds phase.... here ya go, USDA Decision On GE Alfalfa Leaves Door Open For Contamination, Rise Of Superweeds Those two are bone chilling to me... absolutely positively bone chilling after that executive order pushed through a watered down CODEX that I have no doubt will be fully harmonized with the WTO and WHO the minute the "warmist elites" can slip it through.
    There is NO SUBSTITUTE for hands on experience growing produce. No neighbors or family members left who know how>>> ? Then we need to look to recently immigrated Cubans, Mexicans, and Eastern Europeans. They're all good folk.... they'll help teach us. Maybe get a copy of 'Seeds of Deception' from your local library to spur you on. You can save as many books and as many online DIY articles as you want to your hard drive about using stashes of seed but based on my personal experiences over the past 5 years.... we'll be absolutely positively toast if more of us don't start taking some baby steps toward actual hands on growing be it on balcony or in our backyards or in community gardens. Oh God how I hate saying this but.... we need to garden organically as if our lives depend on it because.... I think our lives just might in the future and I'd rather feel foolish being wrong than go hungry.
    The vast majority of us will not be able to forage.... we've replaced native fruiting plants with "ornamentals" to the extent there's little left to forage for and I suppose we might as well count on the huddles masses wiping out entire areas of edible plants unwittingly leaving nothing for perpetuation of species.
    We won't be able to live on deer and goose alone after all the stray pets start disappearing just like they did in the 30's and 40's. Squirrels and pigeons will start disappearing too. Livestock including horses will go *poof* too.... nobody will care how chewy old horsemeat is or that our last horse slaughter house on American soil was shut down and taken away from us a few years ago by our government because "stakeholders" deemed it "inhumane" and not PC to eat horsemeat.
    And one last thing.... put down the RoundUp.... step away from the RoundUp and ALL similar commercially available pesticides on shelves from sea to shining sea. Those pesticides and synthetic fertilizers won't stand a chance of serving us in the future and they're part of the problem not the solution anyway. Getting off soap box and running for cover in another thread....
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 14, 2014
  5. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    No, that was well stated, Equilibrium.
  6. Seacowboys

    Seacowboys Senior Member Founding Member

    We have been Pavlovian conditioned to accept crumbs of liberty in exchange for supermarkets. I remember a free cheese program in Memphis several years back. Isn't that a novel concept? Free stuff? I suppose the food fairy pays for that.
    Notice how mega-mart no longer has twenty varieties of the same thing? Now they just have one or two to choose from. Doesn't seem that big a deal until you realize that 18 other manufacturers of varieties 2-20 have no market and no reason to continue to provide jobs and income for anyone. I guess they can all live on free cheese and if we can get them into close enough distribution centers, Monsanto can make lots of cheese from soy products. The fences won't go up until the trucks stop running.
    Food production on a community level doesn't have to equate with primitive living. Every bite grown contributes. That is why the easiest starting point is always at the beginning. Grow tomatoes in a window box and expand from there. It's like cutting down a tree; each chip counts.
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  7. Falcon15

    Falcon15 Falco Peregrinus

    I was stating, to clear the air, that you need to buy and stash EXTRA heirlooms. Soon those seeds will be ILLEGAL or at the minimum extremely difficult to obtain. Buy NOW while the supplies are good. That does not preclude starting by growing what you can where you can, up to an including your FLOWER BEDS if that is all you have. Raised bed gardens are also a good start, particularly french method or Square Foot Gardening. Buy a book on saving seeds, read, read, read, then practice, practice, practice. Like SC Said, start with a window box if you have to but START NOW. Buy and save heirlooms before the gov-goons make it impossible for you to get a seed stockpile!
  8. Catullus

    Catullus Monkey+ Site Supporter++

  9. Equilibrium

    Equilibrium Monkey++

    Catullus> They're good people.... I ordered from them 4...maybe 5 years ago. They've definitely got some decent general planting instructions as long as we all keep in mind each grow site is a little different. This goes well beyond basic USDA hardiness or first and last frost dates. One thing about the seeds offered in the vaults.... we can garden organically using organic seeds or we can pretty much garden the 20th century way which is anything goes as long as we're buying "stuff" using organic or organic heirloom or heirloom or any other type of seed we want if it makes us feel good. I don't see where any of their seed is certified organic and vault or no vault.... some seeds like parsnips, parsley, and onion just won't remain viable beyond 1 year.... 2 at the most when stored properly. Those must be grown year to year and the seeds must be saved properly or those foods would have to be eliminated from our diet in a SHTF scenario.
    Falcon> I totally agree with this statement, "start with a window box if you have to but START NOW" which is why I had previously posted this, "[FONT=&quot]we'll be absolutely positively toast if more of us don't start taking some baby steps toward actual hands on growing be it on balcony or in our backyards or in community gardens.[/FONT]". Have you actually found a seed saving book that addressed cross pollination by species? I've not seen that covered in any seed saving book I've ever flipped through beyond a mere mention that it can happen. What good is saving seed if what were saving is hybrid seed laced with frankengenes compliments of biotech's dirty genes floating everywhere? Here's how my corn got polluted by their genetically engineered seeds, We're going to have to take into consideration when the variety we're growing blooms and what similar varieties are being planted within 1-5 miles of our properties. Heirlooms are open-pollinated seeds.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 14, 2014
  10. overbore

    overbore Monkey++

    Seed Storage

    WE put the heirlooms inside a double heat sealed vacuumed mylar bag that has and O2 absorber then it is into the freezer. About 75% germination rate for 10 year storage.

    Laus Deo
  11. Equilibrium

    Equilibrium Monkey++

    Again…. storing heirlooms is great providing…. what we got our hands on was truly an uncontaminated heirloom and providing we know how to keep them pure. If the heirloom we purchase isn’t certified organic…. it’s not a possibility but a probability we’ve got some mighty fine pull-the-plug genes in our seed that could manifest themselves when we least expect it. No one should be ignoring or downplaying the need to purchase organic seed or the need to educate one’s self on the best science available to stop cross pollination IMHO.
    Here’s what put the fear of God in me…. beets, wheat, rice, barley, oats, and soybeans (staple “feed the world” and feed Americans kinda plants) are C3 plants like most trees. I’m sure they’ve got a computer model (assuming global warming) out there to dazzle us thus trivializing this fact. I grew up on a farm…. a dairy farm to be exact. I don’t purport to know 1/100th of what farmers know but…. whacky weather seemed to always help crops I now know are cold weather crops like cabbage…. broccoli…. and cauliflower while hurting warm weather crops while alfalfa and wheat were always tricky and this is a glimpse into how tricky wheat can be, Winter Wheat Production Manual: Chapter 12. Something I learned from growing tomatoes which are a warm weather crop like soybeans, rice, and corn is that…. temps don’t need to get anywhere near freezing once they’ve started active growth to totally wipe em out. This should be making everyone think of all the crop failures earlier in 2010 down south and out east and along our western coast as a result of wet and cold weather during these “anthropogenically” warming times then the wave of GE crop failures across Russia and then China for wet and cold weather and then we should start thinking about dairy cows. One thing about colder weather that always worries farmers is if there’ll be enough hay and silage to make it through spring. Dairy cows eat more in colder weather….they need more energy to keep warm and…. healthy and… producing milk. Livestock eats more to stay warm in cooler temps… just like humans and then think about the fact that…. we have been systematically and methodically culling all buffalo that wander out of National Parks. Little voice tells me they’ll be replacing our dairy with their GE Soy and when the latest and greatest pest is introduced that will decimate their GE Soy…. oopsie for us.
    We obviously could NOT stop that GE alfalfa and we might as well throw in the towel trying to stop future GE introductions that are AGW compatible without the patenting of life making its way to the Supreme Court and…. it won’t… they’ll see to that. Forget that we don’t have the faintest clue of all that these frankengenes are doing to our bodies for a moment because the NSF will never fund that type of research…. forget that most of them are categorized as terminator, ZOMBIE, exorcist, and pull-the-plug plants... which is all so fiendishly laden with unbridled greed it would be almost laughable had we not cast Borlaug's lessons of sustainable agriculture to the wind….. their seed is pesticide dependent and it has been and continues to hybridize with our seed and I believe GE alfalfa is the straw that’s going to break the camel’s back. I’m pretty sure we’ve reached a point where we need to forget about “developing” nations….tens of millions of us… that’s you, me, our children, our grandchildren, our neighbors, our friends, and everyone we’ve ever crossed paths with throughout our lives…. are at risk of starving if Earth isn’t heating up like they led us to believe it was ramming that NWO sunshine and socialism down our throats.
    Americans have billions of Asian and African and even Middle Eastern straws in our fresh water aquifers. Billions of our fresh water is getting hauled in spragg bags across the oceans to recharge "developing" nations' aquifers to support their agricultural practices while many of our rivers are running dry and we're experiencing droughts and one crop failure after the next as a result of same. Americans are literally getting sucked dry but the real miscarriage in their “social justice” programming is if we’re actually in a cooling phase and…. I believe we are… crops like that new GE alfalfa are going to fail to yield. Period. They will fail. That’s the real scam IMHO and call me off my rocker but that’s how I believe the elite intend to relieve environmental stresses created by a burgeoning “global” population.
    I have been following the money to the best of my ability and if more of us don’t begin paying attention to what’s going in our mouths and what we’re doing to make sure we’ll have nummies for our tummies for the long haul…. we’ll be brought to our knees because of the chokehold they’ve got on our food and water. When we start dropping like flies…. they will ring their hands and shed tears for the cameras claiming that if only they had known…. if only they had known. It won’t be just humans dropping in third world nations…. it’s going to be humans dropping in OUR country yet few seem willing to discuss the pesticide dependencies of GE crops openly because that tends to round robin to discussions of the need for humane population control which… is sorta taboo in our society. So far the only ordinary folk I know openly discussing the long term ramifications of pesticide and activator dependent GE seeds are licensed applicators who grow their own food and dissenters from the scientific community who no longer feel Americans can afford to “believe” in AGW. They figured out why so many tax payer funded “global” seed and gene banks were popping up globally. In lieu of a planet to jump to after the dust settles and the bodies are disposed of from SHTF…. they created an ark.
    Scary but....there is a disproportionately high number of Americans who don’t know how… let alone why…. they should be gardening organically with a goal of reducing the cross pollination risk. I know some of the people I love aren’t going to make it through what I think is coming our way. The only muscles they’re exercising are the ones in the arm they use to swipe credit cards.
    Please… crossing fingers somebody will read this and “connect the dots”, ISU Weed Science Online - Effect of cool temps on herbicides.
    Now please consider this. Listen to what this former UN advisor predicted…. he said we were heading very rapidly to a point where somebody has to decide who dies , YouTube - Peter Taylor - Food Shortages & Global Cooling
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 14, 2014
  12. Falcon15

    Falcon15 Falco Peregrinus

    You know, once the fecal matter strikes the oscillating air mover, the mega farms will start closing, trucks will stop moving produce, and infrastructure will shut down, hence food shortages. GMO seeds do NOT propagate well on their own, no matter how "aggressive" they may be. Farmers, back in the day, would save a portion of their crop for seed, and I am sure some can to this day, to a point. MOST (90+%) farmers have to buy their seed stocks annually from the big seed houses. In fact many farmers who I know, whose families made it through the Great Depression dust bowl, have lost their farms because they cannot afford to buy seed and cannot get loans or loan extensions. 1-2 years post SHTF, lack of refined fuels, pesticides, fertilizers, mega farms, and logistics to move the GMO crops will see a die off of all active plantings. GMOs are not good past 2 generations, generally. One serious consideration is the farther you are from a mega-farm, the better your chances of success without cross pollination from these frankenplants. Also your heirlooms, within 1-2 years post-SHTF, could be "openly" grown with little to no cross pollination. Multiple years worth of planting and seed saving - with proper labeling - will eventually "weed" out the frankeplant crosses (if any) from your gardens. Once the SHTF recovery starts...that is a whole different story.

    The SHTF scenario fast approaching is economic collapse - "adjustment" as the pros in the biz call it. This massive "adjustment" will create an economic chaos so great that society as we know it, supported as it is by the nations mega-farms and truck lines, will screech to a grinding halt. The infrastructure will remain, but the capacity and economic ability to maintain that infrastructure will be gone *poof*. We ride a delicate edge of instability. One good nudge and we topple.

    In the meantime, buy up huge stocks of Heirloom seeds, plant now, get practice, save the seeds if you can (PROPERLY LABELED), separate from your stock of seeds, and replant each year with what you have saved, supplementing if you have to with "fresh" seed. Preserve your harvest. Get a DEEP larder in place. It may have to last you a couple of years before it is "safe" to start planting again, anyhow. Takes time for masses of unprepared people to eat the stock piles of food that exist now. Sad to say, there will be an attrition period. Disease, illness, lack of proper nutrition, lack of proper medical treatment...these things will reduce the "GOLDEN HORDE". Think like the ant from the fable the ant and the grasshopper. When the SHTF winter comes, settle in and live off of the fruits of the labor you invest NOW and live for LATER.
  13. Equilibrium

    Equilibrium Monkey++

    Wrong.... they will experience temporary disruptions for the sake of the media. The media must be in a position to portray an image that "we're all in this together" but those mega farms are BigBio's babies and they will be supported throughout what's coming at us with public funds.... you know.... in the name of public health. I'm from the death industry... I wasn't always a soccer mom. It's that compartmentalization Broker always speaks of that's thrown everyone for a loop even when the documents were in our hands. It's part of their blueprint for controlling us throughout their well orchestrated economic collapse process.

    adding... in a world controlled by "We" the People.... there would be no local militia controlling roads determining which vehicles get through and which don't. But... "We" the People no longer have control... we're already under Martial Law whether we want to accept that or not. The elite's "people transporters" and their mega farm produce tractor trailers and all those tankers filled with pesticides and their water tankers filled to the brim with our fresh water for those needy "developing" countries and all health care supplies and pharmaceuticals deemed in the best interests of "public health"... will get through. They already have a system designed to let all those that are approved through their checkpoints and it was distributed a few years ago. We won't get through but.... they will.
  14. Falcon15

    Falcon15 Falco Peregrinus

    In this EQ we will agree to disagree. I am basing this on PERSONAL knowledge of fuel/petrochemicals/logistics. I do this for a living. Once the economy goes FIZZ, nothing in the country will MOVE.
  15. Equilibrium

    Equilibrium Monkey++

    Oopsie.... I was adding to my previous post while you were replying to me. It doesn't matter whether you and I agree or disagree. There's too many pieces of the puzzle out there and I have no doubt both our belief systems would change dramatically were all the pieces put into our hands at once so people with more than two neural cells to rub together could compare notes. One thing I am sure we agree on is that what's going on is positively diabolical. It's too bad I don't believe in Hell because if I did.... that's where I'd want all those responsible for what they've done to the human race to rot for eternity while all the people who truly care.... like you.... were routed to heaven.
  16. Falcon15

    Falcon15 Falco Peregrinus

    EQ, nicely said. We are in the middle of a diabolical scheme. As it stands now, I pray daily for our nation, our Constitution, and the people who will suffer when the fecal materials start flying. I am just so happy that the folks on the Monkey boards are such great information sources. I have learned quite a BIT since coming here. Always a student, never the master.
  17. Equilibrium

    Equilibrium Monkey++

    Right about now.... while I'm dehydrating more onions contemplating just how extremely vulnerable my family and friends really are.... I'm praying you're totally right and I'm wrong.
  18. Seacowboys

    Seacowboys Senior Member Founding Member

    I have been aware and battling this conspiracy since high school. We have to awaken folks and expose the propoganda mill for what it is and we don't have a snow-ball's chance in hell of doing that. Only by small cadres of community based groups, will we survive. Calories will be and should be the monetary system of the future. Eat well, live well.
  19. ColtCarbine

    ColtCarbine Monkey+++ Founding Member

    Speaking of Monsanto, thank you for bringing this up.

    Ruling on modified sugar beets will affect Oregon seed farmers

    Published: Saturday, August 14, 2010, 9:17 PM Updated: Sunday, August 15, 2010, 4:09 PM

    [​IMG] By The Associated Press

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    <form class="mt-enclosure mt-enclosure-photo" style="display: inline;">[​IMG]View full sizeTorsten Kjellstrand/The Oregonian/2008Frank Morton looks over some organically grown gold chard that he allowed to go to seed in 2008, the year he joined a lawsuit over genetically modified sugar beets. Morton said at the time that he feared modified crops would contaminate his own organic plantings, rendering them worthless.</form>
    A federal judge has revoked government approval of genetically altered sugar beets until regulators complete a more thorough review of how the scientifically engineered crops affect other food, a ruling of particular significance to Oregon seed farmer.

    The ruling by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White Friday in San Francisco means sugar beet growers won't be able to use the modified seeds after harvesting the biotechnology beets already planted on more than 1 million acres spanning 10 states.

    Most sugar beets are grown outside the Pacific Northwest, but virtually all seed used to plant those crops comes from Oregon.

    The Center for Food Safety, Organic Seed Alliance and Sierra Club have been trying to uproot the biotech beets since filing a 2008 lawsuit. Frank Morton, an organic seed farmer in Philomath, joined the lawsuit to stop the planting of genetically modified sugar beets in the Willamette Valley.

    Morton could not be reached Saturday for comment. When the lawsuit was filed, he contended that pollen from genetically modified crops could contaminate Oregon's organic crops, eliminating their certification and rendering them worthless.

    At issue is Roundup Ready beets engineered by Monsanto to be resistant to the herbicide Roundup, which it also manufactures. That lets farmers use Roundup to control weeds in their fields without risk to their beet crop.

    Friday's ruling means additional planting won't be allowed until the U.S. Department of Agriculture submits an environmental impact statement. That sort of extensive examination can take two or three years.

    The federal judge declined a request to issue an injunction that would have imposed a permanent ban on the biotech beets, which farmers have embraced as a way to lower their costs on labor, fuel and equipment.

    Andrew Kimbrell, the Center for Food Safety's executive director, hailed Friday's decision as a major victory in the fight against genetically engineered crops and chided the Agriculture Department for approving the genetically engineered seeds without a full environmental review.

    "Hopefully, the agency will learn that their mandate is to protect farmers, consumers and the environment and not the bottom line of corporations such as Monsanto," Kimbrell said in a statement.

    Attempts to reach the Agriculture Department for comment Saturday were unsuccessful. Monsanto, based in St. Louis, referred requests for comment to the America Sugarbeet Growers Association, which pointed to a Saturday statement from the Sugar Industry Biotech Council.

    In the statement, the sugar beet council said it intends to help the Agriculture Department come up with "interim measures" that would allow continued production of the genetically altered seeds while regulators conduct their environmental review.

    If a temporary solution isn't found, the planting restrictions are likely to cause major headaches for sugar beet growers and food processors.

    The genetically altered sugar beets provide about one-half of the U.S. sugar supply and some farmers have warned there aren't enough conventional seeds and herbicide to fill the void. The scientific seeds account for about 95 percent of the current sugar beet crop in the U.S.

    "The value of sugar beet crops is critically important to rural communities and their economies," the Sugar Industry Biotech Council said Saturday.

    White expressed little sympathy for any disruption his decision might cause. He noted in his 10-page ruling that regulators had time to prepare for the disruption because he had already overturned the deregulation of the genetically altered beets in a decision issued last September.

    The Agriculture Department "has already had more than sufficient time to take interim measures, but failed to act expediently," White wrote.

    Organic farmers, food safety advocates and conservation groups contend genetically altered crops such as the sugar beets could share their genes with conventionally grown food, such as chard and table beets.

    Those arguments helped persuade another federal judge in San Francisco to stop the planting of genetically altered alfalfa seeds in 2007 pending a full environmental review that still hasn't been completed.

    Monsanto took that case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which in June overturned an injunction against the company's sale of the modified seeds.

    In the alfalfa case, the U.S. Agriculture Department has yet to decide whether to allow the genetically modified seeds to be planted. It had earlier approved the seeds, but courts in California and Oregon said the USDA did not look hard enough at whether the seeds would eventually share their genes with other crops.

    The case pits Monsanto against a Greenleaf, Idaho, company, Geertson Seed Farms, which was founded in Oregon and has grown, bagged and sold alfalfa seed since 1942.
  20. ColtCarbine

    ColtCarbine Monkey+++ Founding Member

    A Tale Of Two Seed Farmers: Organic Vs. Engineered

    by Dan Charles

    January 25, 2011

    Listen to the Story

    All Things Considered
    [6 min 22 sec]

    text size A A A
    January 25, 2011
    The Cold War phrase "peaceful coexistence" has been revived in a new context: as a potential solution in the clash between organic agriculture and genetic engineering.
    This agricultural battle is global in scope, but one place where the tension is most tangible — and where its consequences are most concrete — is the valley along Oregon's Willamette River.
    [​IMG] Enlarge Dan Charles for NPR "This valley is not big enough to have genetically engineered crops and normal crops growing together without cross contamination happening," says Frank Morton, an organic farmer who grows Swiss chard for seed.

    Dan Charles for NPR "This valley is not big enough to have genetically engineered crops and normal crops growing together without cross contamination happening," says Frank Morton, an organic farmer who grows Swiss chard for seed.

    This valley is a wonderful place to grow things; the soil is fertile and the climate is mild. Settlers who arrived here via the Oregon Trail once called it "Eden."
    Farmers here can grow almost any crop, and the valley has become a global center of seed production: Seeds for cabbage, spinach, Swiss chard, beets, grass and many other crops are harvested here and shipped all over the world.
    Since seeds are genetic packages, it is perhaps unsurprising that a battle erupted when some of these farmers started growing genetically engineered sugar beets a few years ago. The beets have a new gene, created in the laboratory, which allows them to tolerate the weedkiller Roundup.
    On one side of the battle is organic farmer Frank Morton, a relative newcomer to the Willamette Valley's farming community. He grew up in West Virginia, but moved to Oregon in the 1970s to go to college. "This valley is not big enough to have genetically engineered crops and normal crops growing together without cross contamination happening," he says.
    On the other side is Tim Winn, who has lived and worked on the same farm his whole life, on the banks of the Willamette River just northeast of Corvallis. Winn says government scientists have concluded that there is nothing dangerous in the new gene, and thus no novel risk for Morton or his customers to worry about.
    [​IMG] Enlarge Dan Charles for NPR Farmer Tim Winn, who has a farm on the banks of the Willamette River, says government scientists have concluded that there is nothing dangerous about the "Roundup Ready" version of the sugar beet crop.

    Dan Charles for NPR Farmer Tim Winn, who has a farm on the banks of the Willamette River, says government scientists have concluded that there is nothing dangerous about the "Roundup Ready" version of the sugar beet crop.

    "We can invent a perceived risk in our mind; a lot of us do," Winn says. "And if the science doesn't support it, then it's not a risk. And I guess if [Morton] wants to stay in business with those customers, it would be in his interest to educate them."
    The standoff between these two farmers raises a question: Can genetically engineered crops and organic farms can be good neighbors, no matter where they are grown?
    Concerns Of Cross-Pollination
    To understand why the tension exists, I visited the farm where Morton grows his organic seeds: Gathering Together Farm, outside the town of Philomath. Morton takes me on a tour of the fields, showing off enclosures for growing vegetables in winter, piles of compost, and fields of cabbage, arugula, turnips and kale. We stop and get out at a field of chard.
    This chard, Morton explains, is actually the same species as beets. They're all Beta vulgaris, the way black Labradors and golden retrievers are all dogs. So anyone growing these plants for seed has a special concern: windblown pollen.
    Those different plants will cross-pollinate, so if you want to produce high-quality chard seed, you do not want beet pollen blowing into your field, either from a neighbor's field or from stray plants along a nearby road. And pollen can blow for miles.
    As it happens, there's a sugar beet seed grower straight across the fields a couple of miles away, Morton says. This has not, until now, become a problem.
    [​IMG] Enlarge Dan Charles for NPR The Willamette Valley Specialty Seed Association uses a simple system to avoid cross-pollination: A map of the valley with pins in it shows where each type of crop is planted. It's first come, first served — if you "pin" a sugar beet field, nobody else is supposed to grow seed for Swiss chard within three miles.

    Dan Charles for NPR The Willamette Valley Specialty Seed Association uses a simple system to avoid cross-pollination: A map of the valley with pins in it shows where each type of crop is planted. It's first come, first served — if you "pin" a sugar beet field, nobody else is supposed to grow seed for Swiss chard within three miles.

    "Apparently they aren't finding any of my red chard or golden chard seed in their sugar beets, and I'm not finding any of their genetics in mine. That I know of," Morton says. "There's always some question, and that's the problem — there's always some question."
    The Willamette Valley Specialty Seed Association has a system for avoiding cross-pollination, and the approach is charmingly low-tech: just a map of the valley with a lot of pins stuck in it to show where each seed crop is planted. For farmers, it's first come, first served — if you "pin" a sugar beet field, nobody else is supposed to grow seed for Swiss chard within three miles.
    George Burt, the former manager of the West Coast Beet Seed Co. in Salem, Ore., helped set up this system before he retired.
    "You're really trying to minimize the risk," he says. "And you can get it down to the point where you're relatively sure that you're not hurting anybody else and nobody's hurting you."
    But seed growers agree: It's almost impossible to guarantee that absolutely no cross-fertilization will ever happen.
    Finding Common Ground
    Organic grower Morton didn't worry about this until farmers in the valley started growing genetically engineered sugar beets. For him, those man-made genes are different and require different rules. Morton wants a guarantee that pollen from those genetically engineered beets will not fertilize his chard or red beets. If it did, he says, it would violate his organic principles — and it would destroy his business because his customers wouldn't buy his seeds anymore.
    Moving Toward Compromise

    In December, officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture floated a proposal they hoped could ease some of the ill will between organic farmers and farmers who grow genetically engineered crops. The proposal would allow farmers once again to plant genetically engineered alfalfa, after a court-imposed moratorium on it that has lasted almost four years. But it would restrict the areas in which farmers could grow the crop. Neither side was enthusiastic about it.

    Under the proposal, which could be adopted as early as this week, entire counties in nine Western states where alfalfa seed is grown would be declared off-limits for genetically engineered alfalfa — except for carefully controlled production of seed. This would reduce the odds of cross-pollination with alfalfa seed being grown for organic farmers.

    Biotech companies and farm groups accused the USDA of ignoring its own science, since the agency has concluded that genetically engineered alfalfa is completely safe. The organic industry, for its part, called the proposal a step in the right direction but demanded additional measures to protect organic growers from contamination.

    Some of the leading companies in the organic industry, meanwhile, have been pursuing their own form of pragmatic coexistence. They have formed a "Non-GMO Project" that is drafting standards for food that can be labeled as "non-GMO" — not genetically modified, or genetically engineered. Under these standards, GMO presence would be minimized, but not eliminated. Organic corn that's used as animal feed by producers of organic meat or eggs, for instance, might contain up to 0.9 percent GMOs. The GMO content of corn chips for human consumption, however, would be limited to 0.5 percent.

    — Dan Charles

    In fact, he says, just the possibility of contamination is starting to hurt.
    "We think that buyers from overseas — organic seed companies — we think they have already started to avoid buying from us," he says.
    So Morton, together with some environmental groups, went to court and won.
    A federal judge banned the planting of "Roundup Ready" sugar beets until the USDA does an environmental impact study that examines the economic consequences of cross-pollination, especially for organic farmers. In a similar case, another judge demanded the same thing for genetically engineered alfalfa.
    Listening to Morton and Winn, there doesn't seem to be an easy solution.
    Morton says his business cannot survive the presence of genetically engineered crops, often called GMOs.
    "It will be a valley fit for growing GMOs, but won't be a valley where people from Europe and Japan and Korea come to have seed grown," he says.
    And on the other side, Winn says Morton's demands could unnecessarily cripple a valuable industry.
    "Quite honestly, if you regulate this valley to the point where you don't have sugar beet seed production, or production of some other major commodities — that's a huge deal!" Winn says.
    There is one voice calling for compromise: Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack released an open letter last month calling for a "new paradigm of coexistence and cooperation" between the two sides. Giving in a little, Vilsack said, would be better than litigation that puts one side or the other out of business.
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