(OrganicJar) Grinnell Heritage Farm is 152 years old. Andrew Dunham is the fifth generation of his family to work this land about 50 miles east of Des Moines. He is a direct descendant of Josiah Grinnell, founder of the town and the man Horace Greeley once famously quoted as having said, “Go west, young man, go west.” Andrew and his wife Melissa are a few months shy of receiving their formal certification as an organic farm.
Across the road, due north of their land, is a field of corn that is owned and managed by the Monsanto seed corn plant. In Iowa and anywhere commodity corn is grown, it is common practice around this time of year to use chemicals to control fungus. Often this is accomplished via the use of aerial application, commonly referred to as cropdusting. On July 6th, a rustic-looking old biplane swooped in to spray Monsanto’s field. To put it mildly, the pilot’s bombardiering skills were not what one would hope.
Dunham’s crew was in the field picking broccoli and spinruts (“turnip” backwards—a Japanese form of the root vegetable). They witnessed the plane as it failed to shut off its spray mechanism, and the fungicide drifted into their fields. “The ground is in the third year of transition and would have become organically certified on September 1st,” Andrew said. Now, probably not.
You’d think that this would be a clear-cut cause of action, as the legal folks would put it. But the clever folks at Monsanto hire the crop dusters as contractors, and they in turn use a corporate shell with no assets, so when something like this happens and a victim sues, they simply file bankruptcy and then form a new corporation.
A fellow cropduster, Bob Howard didn’t see what the big deal was.
“If everything was Roundup Ready it would be the greatest thing in the world, if they would all go to Roundup Ready or all go back to conventional farming it would sure be a lot easier on us.”
It’s stunning that someone so obviously shortsighted was able to obtain a pilot’s license. His apathy toward his community and flagrant self-centered simple-mindedness are indicative of the unconscious conspiracy to which so many are a party. They have all been bamboozled into believing in “Better living through chemistry.” So much so, in fact, that the methods most farmers have used for a mere few decades are called “conventional,” and the few who practice farming as it was done for millennia are the outliers. Monsanto’s website even claims that they are “Growing yield sustainably.”
Farmers like Andrew Dunham can do little more than stand in their contaminated fields in stunned silence as Monsanto’s contracted crop dusters continue to fly in the face of logic. But Dunham and his family still manage to produce excellent food.
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