Posts Tagged 'organic'

It’s Time to Break Up Monsanto

From Food Democracy Now…

Last year the Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Agriculture held a series of 5 hearings investigating anti-competitive practices in the food and agricultural sectors. The hearings were historic and gave a vital opportunity for hundreds of thousands of America’s farmers, agricultural workers and citizens to call for an end to agribusiness’ excessive monopoly power. 1

Last December, Food Democracy Now! delivered more than 200,000 citizen comments to Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney with your demands to break up the worst abusers. 2

Nowhere are these abuses more prevalent than in the extreme market share enjoyed by the seed and chemical company Monsanto, which has a virtual stranglehold on seed supplies in crucial sectors that has severely limited farmers’ choice in what seeds they can buy. Monsanto’s control of the seed market is so high that 93% of soybeans, 82% of corn, 93% of cotton and 95% of sugarbeets grown in the U.S. contain Monsanto’s patented genes. 3

Not only is this level of market share allowing Monsanto to jack prices up on farmers because there’s no competition, but it also threatens our democracy as Monsanto uses their corporate power to influence our regulatory agencies, like the USDA, EPA and FDA, as well as Congress and the White House.

It’s time to fight back and the only way to do that is to make sure that the Department of Justice continues their investigation into Monsanto’s anti-competitive business practices.

Click on the link below to automatically add your name to the letter asking for the Department of Justice to break up Monsanto. It’s time to stand up for farmers and our democracy. Tell the Department of Justice that it’s time to do what’s right!

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/357?akid=303.53115.iz1tE2&t=7

Over the past two months the biotech industry has gotten their way in Washington with the approval of three new genetically modified (GMO) crops. First GMO alfalfa, then GMO sugar beets and most recently an industrial GMO corn for ethanol.4

The common link between these crops, except for the fact that they’re bad for farmers and the environment, is that they face virtually no oversight once they’re planted and their genes are allowed to contaminate neighboring fields and our food. These multinational corporations are not required to submit rigorous, independent peer reviewed studies prior to approval, but are allowed to submit their own corporate science to the federal government for approval.

To date, no petitions for approval of GMO crops have been denied. The only way to reign in the abuse that determines the quality and safety of the food that you and your family consume is to put pressure on the Department of Justice is to make sure that they follow through on their investigations into Monsanto’s abusive practices.

Last year seven state attorneys general launched an investigation into whether or not Monsanto “has abused its market power to lock out competitors and raise prices” while the DOJ is investigating anti-competitive practices with Monsanto’s marketing abuses in limiting access to seeds for farmers and competitors through manipulative contracts.5

It’s time to end Monsanto’s abuses, tell the DOJ to do their job and complete this investigation. It’s clear that abuses of farmer’s rights are taking place and the U.S. government needs to stand up to them now!

Click on the link below to automatically add your name to the letter calling for the DOJ to protect our democracy and break up Monsanto!

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/357?akid=303.53115.iz1tE2&t=9

Thanks for taking action — your support is greatly appreciated! We need your help to keep the pressure on! If you can, please consider chipping in as little as $10 to help us continue this fight.

http://fdn.actionkit.com/go/donate/133?akid=303.53115.iz1tE2&t=12

We rely on folks like you to keep us going. Thanks again for your support.

Thank you for participating in food democracy —

Dave, Lisa and the Food Democracy Now! Team

Sources:

1. “DOJ’S Holder Calls for Historic Era of Antitrust Enforcement in Agriculture”, March 16, 2010.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/352?akid=303.53115.iz1tE2&t=14

2. “Your Voices Were Heard Loud and Clear in DC this Week, Thanks for Standing Up for Family Farmers”, Food Democracy Now!, December 10, 2010.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/353?akid=303.53115.iz1tE2&t=16

3. “Monsanto’s Dominance Draws Antitrust Inquiry” Washington Post, November 29, 2009.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/354?akid=303.53115.iz1tE2&t=18

4. “Update: Obama Goes Rogue on GMOs, Tell Him to Say NO to Monsanto”, Food Democracy Now!, February 15, 2011.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/355?akid=303.53115.iz1tE2&t=20

5. “Monsanto 7-State Probe Threatens Profit From Gene in 93% of Soy”, Bloomberg, March 10, 2010.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/356?akid=303.53115.iz1tE2&t=22

 

On Scatology and Compost

No, not eschatology, though many folks consider than an equally excremental topic. Rather, yesterday’s post Organic Church: Full of Crap? elicited a lot of lively feedback (thanks all!). One friend in particular emailed me off-blog  and wondered if perhaps I was carrying the metaphor of church history/our personal experiences-as-compost a bit too far; couldn’t saying that the ‘crap’ is valuable justify abuse, manipulation, or normalizing sub-standard experiences? It’s a good question. Here’s what I replied:

Great question. And if I was brutally honest about my own ‘organic church experience’ over its 10-year period, on a scale from Euphoric to $#!tty, I’d probably say it’s somewhere in the middle – and that I’d rather not spiritualize my experience of the latter.

Far be it from me to make the compost metaphor whitewash the $#!t and justify manipulation and groupthink. Rather, I think that this image of spiritual life can stand – on a personal/local level as well as a macro/historical level – as an ecosystem metaphor for even the best of times and the healthiest of institutions/movements. ‘Cause when you think about it, most people don’t pile steaming excrement on their home compost heaps. That’s just fertilizer – and that’s helpful too, but somewhat different. No, the compost heap in my parents’ backyard garden gets a regular supply of egg shells, carrot peelings, old lettuce, and other bits of organic matter that were (and are, strictly speaking) life-giving – just not at that moment for my parents. They were yesterday’s meals – yesterday’s manna, if you will. By sewing into the compost heap, they hope to reap some life-giving food down the line a bit. Even a psychologically-healthy, well-adjusted group will have old manna to put on the compost heap for tomorrow’s nourishment.

You’re right, too, that we don’t worship the decay – the compost heap isn’t = the life of the Spirit. Rather, it’s the fertile ground where the Spirit can do her work.

Organic Church: Full of Crap?

The Web has had been a-buzz with some conversation about my native church milieu, ‘organic’ church – aka house church or simple church. Folks meeting in homes, rather decentralized, certainly de-clericalized. Senior Christianity Today editor Mark Galli wishes organic churchers well, but is concerned that we might burn out on our lofty ideals.

What I worry about is the coming crash of organic church. And after that, I worry about the energetic men and women at the forefront of the movement. Will they become embittered and abandon the church, and maybe their God?

Some folks think this is over-dramatic – including Neil Cole, who responded to Galli’s editorial here. (Update: Frank Viola has responded too.) But others, like my friend Neil Carter, were writing about the death of idealism in organic church before they even read Galli’s piece. Carter finds himself looking at organic church on the outside after 10 years as an insider: Far from breathing the rarified air of ‘changing the world’ (as Cole suggests organic churches do) or ‘revolutionizing the history and practice of the church’ (as the house church stream Carter & I share proclaims as one of its goals), Carter is now churching with that most ubiquitous (and some would say, boring) of tribes: Southern Baptists. Reflecting on this, Carter writes:

It’s funny how you can age ten years in the space of just one, while at other times you can go ten years and hardly age a year. It’s a variable process, it turns out. It’s all about what you learn — what you experience in the space of a year. Having said that, I feel I’ve aged more years than I know how to count just in the last 12 months.

Specifically, he recounts a major compromise with his ideals in allowing some professional pastor dude baptize his youngest daughter – even though he baptized his first two daughters himself as part of his former house church community, in a swimming pool. He quotes a coupla Michael Caine flicks – “Obsession is a young man’s game” and “Idealism is youth’s final luxury.” Neil’s only about five years older than me, but he’s musing, as Blink-182 did a decade ago, “I guess this is growing up.”

Or is it?

Do-it-yourself New Testament scholar Bill Heroman – whom I also shared a living room with, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away – thinks the organic church movement is full of crap – in a good way. “The challenge,” he says, “is sustainability.”

Human systems last a long time mainly by suppressing the human element that challenges established traditions, but that same human element also provides authenticity and vitality. Thus, the best way to survive for a long time is to be nearly dead. Nature, naturally, sustains itself quite differently. The work God needs to do within a local body of believers will always be messy, but Institutional Christendom keeps peons & yokels from participating precisely because they make messes. The shift is: who says messes are bad? Antiseptic works well for hospitals and elementary schools, but not in gardens or forests. After all, crap makes good fertilizer, and God is a gardener.

God is a gardener, and we – our individual lives, collective lives, our history and our institutions – are compost. Just like the Holy Spirit, Sarayu, in The Shack: She is unoffended by our messiness and our chaos. Indeed, it is beautiful to her.

So thanks, Bill, for stealing my metaphor. :)

Even so – I understand and respect my friends like Neil Carter, who find themselves outside of these more ‘ideal-laden’ patterns of doing and being church – whether by necessity or shifting sensibilities. It’s an internal tug-of-war, sometimes. Even though I’m far more interested in liturgical and traditional elements (from the ‘compost’ of our history) than I once was, I’m as opposed to clericalism as I’ve ever been. Even so, I’m not at all opposed to leadership – even strong leadership – as some in the organic stream are. Leadership is, it helps, and not everyone is gifted at it. That said, any leadership modeling itself remotely on that of Jesus or even Paul will be continuously giving power away – “You feed them!” “Try this!” and not seeking its own self-preservation. Because while we’re not all ‘leaders,’ we are all priests.

What does this look like, practically? These days I’m drawing inspiration from the 70-year-old Church of the Saviour cluster of churches in the D.C. area (read Inward Journey, Outward Journey by Elizabeth O’ Connor! Do it now!), as well as the 30-year-old St. Gregory of Nyssa congregation in San Francisco (do yourself a favor and pre-order Sara Miles’ new book Jesus Freak: Feeding/Healing/Raising the Dead). While these fellowships are older than the current ‘organic’ church nomenclature’s popular use – and they certainly have the trappings of Galli’s ‘smells and bells’ in significant ways – to me they embody composted communities; not experiments in puritan house-cleaning, but groups who are full-of-crap and they know it. It’s from this rich, loamy soil that they can sprout the Spirit’s life afresh in each generation.


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    My Writings: Varied and Sundry Pieces Online

    Illumination and Darkness: An Anne Rice Feature from Burnside Writer's Collective
    Shadows & Light: An Anne Rice Interview in MP3 format from Relevant Magazine
    God's Ultimate Passion: A Trinity of Frank Viola interview on Next Wave: Part I, Part II, Part III
    Review: Furious Pursuit by Tim King, from The Ooze
    Church Planting Chat from Next-Wave
    Review: Untold Story of the New Testament Church by Frank Viola, from Next-Wave

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