J500 Media and the Environment

our food: priceless or pricey? by jessicasb
February 13, 2009, 1:58 pm
Filed under: Food + Health, Nature + Travel, Science + Tech, Society + Media

The difference between sustainability and non-sustainability can grow into a huge debate: What’s sustainable? What’s local? What’s the most important factor when determining what food to buy and eat?

But sometimes the difference is completely clear. 

I first heard about Monsanto, an agricultural corporation that sells genetically engineered seeds and the herbicide Roundup, when I saw the documentary The Future of Food. Numerous farmers have been butting heads with Monsanto because of lawsuits in which Monsanto claims patent infringement for reusing their seeds instead of buying more.

I first heard about White Dog Cafe this week. The owner, Judy Wicks, buys all of the Philadelphia-based restaurant’s produce from local, organic farms, pays her employees a starting wage of $9 an hour and follows fair trade guidelines.

Monsanto strives to own seeds — living things — and it’s been successful. In 2001, the Supreme Court ruled that “newly developed plant breeds are patentable under the general utility patent laws of the United States.” Monsanto holds a 70 to 100% market share for various crops.

Wicks, on the other hand, believes “individuals, or individual businesses, can’t provide for all our basic needs by themselves. We need a local food system, a local energy system, local clothing manufacturing, and green building methods.”

This results in two very different views of the local food system: 1) It can be owned, patented and sold. 2) It is a collaborative effort.

Is counting on local food systems overly ambitious, especially when working against major corporations? How do you think local food systems can survive in an atmosphere in which seeds can have a price tag?

— Jessica Sain-Baird

Thanks to NaturalNews.com for the image.


3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

It is amazing to me that a corporation can own a patent on a living thing like a seed. Monsanto controls so much of the seed market, especially in developing nations where resources are already scarce, how can anyone stop them?

Comment by mackenzies09

It also really shocks me. Imagine a monopoly on our food. It all comes back to education — making sure people know about who and what they are buying in terms of food, who to trust, etc.

Comment by jessicasb

I think “effort” is a key term here too. How much effort are we willing to put in to know where our food comes from? Are we willing to grow it ourselves? Are we willing to read labels?

Comment by Lauren Keith

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