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Michael Schmidt and the Food “Safety” Bill

Lost vest and stop sign? - 0110201016920

Creative Commons License photo credit: roland

How Schmidt’s Strong Stand Should Inform our Activism to Protect Local Foods

by Garlic Barnstorm

On January 21, 2010, Michael Schmidt, a Canadian dairy farmer, was cleared on all 20 counts of “selling” raw dairy in violation of Canada Health regulations. He was facing prison yet determined the government would have to send him there rather than find him guilty and send him home.

He will now continue operating his cow boarding program.

His win is a strong message to health regulators across North America that their orchestrated campaign against raw dairy farms and their customers is merit-less and oversteps bounds of duty and law.  And it is now clear any such moves against raw milk dairy farmers and people’s right to eat what they wish will be running up against rapidly growing and passionate public resistance.

Meanwhile, on the sustainable agriculture side where millions are already deeply invested in local farming, in CSAs, in farmers markets, in urban gardens, in their own home gardens, in raw food, in cooking, in everything foodie, they are all strangely, no, amazingly, no, astoundingly, no, stunningly silent about a “food safety” bill that will … how does one put this delicately? … Empty their egg cartons?  Poison their potatoes?  Contaminate their custard?  Wreck their rutabagas?  Fix their fennel?

Do them in.

Completely.

This “food safety” bill is to food safety what the bailout was to the economy.  Ouch.  Yes, “they” are after everything in agriculture now and have carefully arranged to take everything even if it IS nailed down.

Yes, it’s that bad.  Only worse.   Because it’s food they are after this time and try as we might, we can’t do without it like we can forgo the money they walked off with.

So, how are they planning to take everything thing to do with food.  Good question.

Notice all that corporate media muckraking on contamination?  Did it seem a little odd that corporate media was suddenly attacking corporations?  Nay, barraging everyone with horror stories all year?  5000 a year die from food borne illness.

Now, that’s bad but it doesn’t even make it on to lists of most common reasons for deaths per year, it is so low.  Meanwhile, darned if 100,000 a year don’t die from prescription drugs taken as directed yet no one at the FDA is saying a word, the same agency so bent out of shape and begging for POWER to save everyone from dangerous food.  For the 100,000, the media doesn’t have story after story on even one of the 274 people dying on average each day.  Not one.  Instead, it’s all “Contamination!!!” and “E-coli!!!!” and “Bad Meat!!!” until one could puke just from reading it.

It’s a booby trap.

Scare the public into the waiting tentacles of the-“food safety”-bill-which-isn’t-a-food-safety-bill.  A corporate bill to end not only organic, but all local farming and the (all joking aside) wonderful dreams of sustainable green communities.

Why would anyone want to do something so mean?  Because local organic farming and farmers markets and road side stands mean little to no profit to the big corporations selling GMOs, pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, and the rest.  And they mean zero – as in zero – profit to the food processing companies selling brightly packaged, sick-making junk they call food, made with all those poisons.  Not one dime.

Oh dear.

So, the bill will save their collective backsides by allowing “the Administrator” to mandate those things.

Yes, mandate GMOs, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and any other corporate garbage (or sewage).  If someone tells you it isn’t so, it would be appropriate to punch them in the nose (or say “piffle”) because it is so and they are doing what they can to keep you from facing a reality that will save your life.

How will they get away with it?  “The Administrator” (already famous for giving the country rBGH, unlabeled, and GMOs, unregulated) will formulate “science based minimum standards” necessary for animal health, animal feed, and the environment.   Not maximum that they may allow but minimum they will require.  A clever twist.  Will the corporate “Administrator” who favored GM hormones and GMOs require just sunlight for health and grass for feed?  Not likely.

Might he require “science-based” drugs for health, “science-based” GMO feed for feed, and “science-based” pesticides for pests?  Hmmm.  Let us think.   Same guy that gave us rBGH?  Same guy who wrote a white paper explaining how farmers could be sued for labeling their milk rBGH-free?  Same guy who games the regulations so we couldn’t stop GMOs?  Hmmm.  Want to bet what will be required?  That’s kiss organic gardening goodbye, all in the name of “science-based food safety.”  Such yummy food safety has happened before.

Oh, and the bill never mentions seed, not even one itty bitty time, but will take it over.  I know … it’s insane, it’s devious, it’s nasty, but then isn’t the worthless food they produce and then dress up to look appealing?  Isn’t the  bribery they commit to corrupt the system?

So, insane, devious and nasty isn’t surprising.

No, but what is surprising is the silence from the sustainable ag community.  They appear to be drugged, or have narcolepsy or dementia or some bad case of something interfering with basic brain function.  Or they are something beyond gullible.  Dupe-able?

First they were told by their NGO leaders that those warning them that organic farming and farmers markets were in trouble, were “alarmist” and “not to worry.”  They kept asking and they kept being told “not to worry.”   Then, as it became clear the alarmists were speaking gospel and there really was something and something big to worry about, the NGO leaders said “we’re are having meetings with some legislators and are going to get exemptions for small or organic farmers.”

After HR 2749 passed the House, it became clear that those exemptions didn’t stick and the bill, now S  510 is on the way to the Senate, the NGO leaders are saying “It’s a done deal,” and now they are only hoping they can get any dinky exemptions at all.

Wow, what tigers.

Schmidt was ready to go prison, actually having refused beforehand to accept a guilty verdict that did not put force the government to put him in prison, so large was the principle of defending people’s right to farm and to sell food to those who want it.  After all, he saw he defending the right to absolutely everything that matters to survival.

The same principle is at stake with the food safety bill only it is a MUCH greater threat than anything facing Schmidt because it would not only wipe out farmers across the country and take seeds but poison animals, the land and all food, and give complete control of seed and the food supply to the corporations – ending not only safe food and health but all food security.

So, does anyone even remember a whimper going up from the NGOs?  A weak alert to members such as “everything you love and depend on might just be in a little trouble”?

Can’t think of any.

First, “it’s untrue.”  Then, “It’s true but not to worry, we’ll make a deal for you.”  And now, “it’s done deal.”  Kind of bypassed informing people, kind of left off organizing anyone (or except for “click here to do squat,” kind of forgot that public outrage from a million irate foodies could stop the thing.  Kind of did all they could to keep anyone from knowing or feeling a thing.

That’s leadership.

A few small reminders.

1.  Everything to do with food and farming is at risk with this bill.

2.  It’s not about food safety.

3.  Nothing is ever a done deal.

4.  Some things one fights for no matter what because they are that important.

5.  This is one of those times.

6.  This is about the right to farm, the right to food, the right to health, the right to survival.

7.  This is one of the most important moments in American history.

8.  This is part of an international human rights battle to save food from corporation control.

9.  Be inspired by Schmidt.

10. This involves everyone and will be won.

Oh, and if your NGO is not encouraging all its members to raise bloody hell and is not refusing to compromise on the FULL and INDIVISIBLE life-or-death human rights involved here – to farm, to produce food, to have seed, to to choose whatever food people wish, to live on one’s land undisturbed and under the rule of law (the same issue as in Canada’s C-6), your NGO is … contaminated?  processed?  adulterated?  mislabeled?  unsafe?

Garlic is someone dedicated to eating, finding that not doing so is ill-making.  Garlic, having studied on this subject extensively, discovered that farming is essential to eating.  Based on that, Garlic dislikes and deplores and deprecates all the “to comply, you’ll need a $60,000 piece of equipment to touch that chicken and you’re missing the 1000 pages of paperwork” laws to get rid of local farmers and stop people from eating what they want.  In Garlic’s famous word on the subject:  “Duh!”
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Comments

  1. The part about the NGO’s is so true. The Cornucopia Institute is pedaling this same line: the bill is good ,except we’re trying to get you little/organic guys an exemption so the FDA will focus on the big, bad Big Ag. Except there are no exemptions forthcoming because the food safety bills are not about food safety: they are about controlling, as completely as possible, the food supply in this country.

    It is no mistake that while the country focuses on nationalized health care on one hand, the other hand is busy covertly undermining our ability to eat food that keeps us healthy. They want you in “the system” one way or the other.

    It sounds very paranoid and conspiracy theory-like, but after thinking about it and watching it for the last several years (as a small grower) I cannot reach any other conclusion.

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  1. […] inform American activism to protect local organic food Jump to Comments Here’s what a recent post on Kimberly Hartke’s blog has to say on the subject: Raw milk farmer Michael Schmidt talks to news media following his […]

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