Biotechs called the shots in Vermont (4/6/2006)

Douglas based veto on rumored threat
Times Argus, June 4, 2006

The cancellation of the June 1 vote to override Gov. James Douglas' veto of the Farmer Protection Act may be a blessing in disguise, causing us to look at the issue in broader terms. Rather than showing division between farmers, this bill has pointed out a great commonality. Whether big or small, organic or conventional, dairy or vegetable, all Vermont farmers understand that they are indentured to the interests of major corporations like Monsanto that benefited most from his veto.

The farmers who were opposed to the bill based their opposition on the fear that, when made to take responsibility for their product, genetically modified seed manufacturers would not be willing to sell in Vermont. The governor used this rumor as the basis for his veto despite a statement to the contrary from the industry spokesperson herself. Since there was no official threat, the biotech industry needed only to plant the rumor of a threat to get the hard-working farmers of Vermont who use GM seed to put on their green hats and fight their battle for them. The power that the industry wields over these farmers has never been clearer.

Even if this bill had passed, it would only have altered the playing field on which a Vermont farmer could do battle with Monsanto in the courts.

The contamination will have already occurred and the farmer will face an endless court battle against Monsanto, its infinite resources and its team of corporate lawyers.

We, the people of Vermont, need to first address the question of who should wield power in a democracy: the few or the many. If seed manufacturers can prevent the passage of law merely with the rumor of a threat, then they have usurped our authority to govern ourselves. Change begins with the acceptance that we are not currently self-governing, the knowledge that we are capable as citizens to make the decisions that affect our lives, and the courage to accept nothing less than real democracy.

Rick Scharf


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