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Monsanto Does ‘Dust and Ditch’ Destroying Local Organic Farm

Monsanto Does ‘Dust and Ditch’ Destroying Local Organic Farm

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Monsanto Does ‘Dust and Ditch’ Destroying Local Organic Farm


(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.

Leave a Comment and Tell Us How Evil is Monsanto?

Source: grist.org

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  1. What a horrible thought from the cropduster. Regardless of whether you support organic or “conventional” methods of growing, the fact that people were in the field picking while it was “accidentally” sprayed should be a source of concern to anyone. And one could say back to him, it would be better if everything was organic, then it wouldn’t even be a concern.

    I definitely agree on the word conventional. Truly, organic is the conventional method. It’s the method used to grow food for thousands of years while chemical fertilizers and pesticides are a result of leftover chemical weapons.

  2. I don’t think it’s correct that the crop dusters can’t be sued. The organic farm should talk to an attorney about the liklihood of “piercing the crop dusters’ corporate veil.” Generally people lose the liability protection corporations provide if they don’t adequately capitalize or insure the company. In which case the organic farm should be able to go after the crop duster’s personal assets. Also, a good lawyer should be able to figure out a way to include Monsato as a defendant. I know it’s expensive, but if small companies don’t start fighting back against corporate giants like Monsanto, they’re going to be run over.

  3. For those who don’t know, Monsanto is an incorrigible multinational tox-strategist (my own word for a person or company who appears to look for opportunities to spread their poisons). Monsanto has been “challenged” and has lost in Courts of Law.. the “next time” they simply change their venue. Read about hero Percy Schmeiser in Wikipedia. In 2000, he received the Mahatma Gandhi Award for working for the good of mankind in a non-violent way. In 2007, Percy Schmeiser and Louise Schmeiser were named winners of the Right Livelihood Award (also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize) [3]:

    “… for their courage in defending biodiversity and farmers’ rights, and challenging the environmental and moral perversity of current interpretations of patent laws.”

  4. Thanks for this great article, Jason! Cropdusting is not only poisoning us through our food, it is also ruining the air quality in Iowa. This story is unbelievable. I wish that there was something we could do to help this poor farmer. We need more truly conventional, organic farms here in Iowa!

  5. Here is a little more background on this.

    Mr. Dunham is a neighbor of ours, with his farm adjacent to one of our seed production facilities. As sometimes happens between neighbors, we had an unfortunate issue arise.

    The pilot who performed the crop dusting was spraying our farm plots. After becoming aware of the incident, the pilot self-reported the event to officials at the Iowa Department of Agriculture. The Dept. of Ag is currently conducting an investigation.

    We contacted both the farmer and the applicator to understand what happened. We are hopeful that after the Dept. of Ag completes the investigation, we can reach an amicable resolution.

    Many farms of different types can and do co-exist – conventional, organic, biotech-all across the country. We will work with Mr. Dunham to make sure both farms can continue to operate in the manner of their choice.

    Mica Veihman
    Monsanto Company

  6. M. Veihman,
    I don’t understand what amicable resolution can possibly be reached when irreparable harm has been caused to the Dunham Family. You cannot un-poison his crops, nor his crew’s bodies. You cannot undo the damage done to the soil and insect populations. This is much more than an unfortunate issue. What is unfortunate is that Monsanto thinks they can justifiably continue doing harm to this planet and the people on it. We are all paying the price.

  7. Sure Mica, the way you guys always work with others, right?

    I have a plot of dessert to sell you.

    You guys are destroyers and should have been out of business long ago.

  8. I was so sorry to read this!! I used to live on a cotton, corn and sorghum farm in South Texas. Once upon a time, a few years back, I heard the crop dusters & still had my horses out in the pasture. I ran to put them up in the barn. In the meantime the crop duster kept spraying, spraying me and my horses. Are the crop dusters “God” or something? Able to do whatever they want anytime they want….GEEZ!

  9. While the incident with the cropduster is incredibly unfortunate, and is a massive step back for that farm, I feel that there should be a degree of neutrality presented.

    I work in health food. I help communicate healthy practices and natural/organic living to people who either need it to improve a health condition or seek it simply to improve their lives.

    I also work and am deeply involved in agriculture. Mass-production agriculture in the US definitely does not cater to the needs of the organic community; however, without this system, millions across the world would be missing out on valuable nutrition.

    I can’t say whether Monsanto did this intentionally; I doubt it, since most agriculturalists support the act of growing. Very, very few farmers would even dream of intentionally harming another man’s livelihood. It’s a great blow to this farm, and does make me sad, but this single incident does not exhibit a plot to sabotage organic growing in the US.

    There has to be a balance. Without mass production agriculture, not only would the world lose it’s largest food supply, but millions in America would be rendered jobless and the economy would be completely upturned. Organic living, on the other hand, is an incredibly beneficial and wholesome lifestyle choice that has been proven to improve the livelihood for many people.

    I simply felt the need to add a bit of balance to the situation. I respect and admire the resolution to live organically, or live a raw lifestyle. However, I also see the importance that agricultural companies like Monsanto have in this country.

    Thanks for your time.

  10. Thats crazy dude. Awsome article

  11. Kelly Rivard: I wish we could expect “neutrality” from blog sites, but it looks like being inflammatory is the way to get views, these days.

    Organic Jar: You gain publicity by playing up the emotional aspects of the story, but are you really helping anyone by getting people angry? Is your aim here to find a solution, or just to stir the pot?

  12. Yoshi, my goal is as it’s always been: to provide helpful and interesting information regarding health, green living and organic news. I think people should get angry about this. Monsanto doesn’t have the human population in mind when they poison our food.

    FYI: There are many types of anger, I think most of the readers are expressing Constructive Anger.

  13. Well, this just goes to show how ignorant these crop dusters are. Unless Monsonto is actually paying them to dust the crops of organic farmers, they’re losing money. And there’s no way those farmers are going to change their mind on the subject because of the stupidity and illegal/harassing behavior of these dusters. It’ll more likely just make them stick to their guns that much more. And if, by some remote chance, they do give in and switch to conventional farming, I’m fairly certain that it’s the competitors of those who harassed them in this manner that will get their business.

  14. Yoshi, This isn’t inflammatory…it’s factual. If what you owned to make a living was just destroyed by “accident”, I would suspect you would be a bit peeved. As well, anyone who has lived around crop dusting can attest to the fact that if you are under it as it goes over, it can easily be detected as poisonous. I grew up around DelMonte and can tell you for a fact, you do NOT want to be outside. And, an organic farm ?? An accident?? Inexcusible to ruin an organic farm. The govt is already clamping down wanting to run organic out of business as well as closing down farmers’ markets.

  15. I think this article is very important, content-wise!

  16. Let me stir the pot, then. This is a matter of public record, BTW. I’m not making this stuff up.

    This incident is only one symptom is a much larger problem, and I don’t believe this case, and others, have been intentional. The problem is we can’t get away from unintended consequences, not matter how much we may scream, “It was an accident!” even when it was.

    Mosanto is the largest producer of industrial seed in the world. They are also one of the largest chemical companies in the world. Second to them is DOW Chemical on both fronts.

    What Mosanto has done is genetically modify crops so they stand up to another Mosanto product, Round-Up. None of this means higher yield, or better nutrition. It just means Mosanto can sell more seed and more broad spectrum herbacides / pesticides. This stuff stays in the ground for years, and enters our water supply, and we can’t control it, not to mention the potential for it to enter our bodies through the food supply, itself.

    They have also added genetic terminators in an attempt to limit the fertility of the resulting seed. This limits the ability of farmers to do what they have done for thousands of years- save seed to replant next season. This forces them to buy more seed each year from Mosanto.

    The pollen from these GMO plants naturally drifts from field to field, fertilizing the non-GMO crops with GMO DNA. This effectively destroys the organic farmerss business because they can no longer claim their product is non-GMO. This is a blatant restraint of trade issue, let alone a health concern for some people.

    Because the US Patent Office has ignored the ruling that things occurring in nature, they have allowed Mosanto to patent the genes of their GMO products. In cases where Mosanto pollen has fertilized organic farmer’s crops, Mosanto has successfully sued farmers who’s crops have been contaminated for growing Mosanto owned crops without a license.

    It is because of these facts that many countries have started banning the import of certain US food products. Mosanto is currently involved in hundreds, if not thousands, of lawsuits over this, on either side of the bench.

    There’s an interesting documentary that you may want to check for a larger view – http://www.hulu.com/watch/67878/the-future-of-food

  17. Perhaps Grinnell should contract with a company to shoot pesty crows with a 50 cal. that accidentally grounds a crop duster. Some folks are just poor shots you know and the word will spread fast in the crop dusting community.

  18. I dont know how people like Mica Veihman can sleep at night- that post is patently unbelievable. The reason for Monsanto’s existance is to make profit for their shareholders- NOT to “reach an amicable resolution”. In fact, it is in Monsanto’s best interest if that organic farm FAILS- and no amount of silly “lets all get along” public relations craptivism on the web will change that. Lesson number one- Monsanto watches the web. Lesson number two- Monsanto spokespeople are willing to spout off ANYTHING to collect that paycheck on the bedside table each morning. Lesson number three- when the spokeswhores get paid to troll online comments sections, you know the company has already jumped the shark in the eyes of the public. Enjoy the ride, Fonzi!

  19. Amicable resolution… that’s nice. So does that mean you are going to pay him his projected income for the next 3 years since you’ve set him back 3 years? And what compensation to the workers who were subjected to the poisons? What’s your life worth Mica? Come on, give us a dollar amount, because you can’t actually undo the damage you have already done.

  20. John, thanks for posting all that. I’m just floored, could things be any more wrong? The nerve of Monsanto, and the stupidity of the legal system. What about suing Monsanto for their pollen trespassing on other farmer’s land and ruining their crops? Is Monsanto a front for a terrorist group? How to bring down an entire country, and their economy by poisoning their food and water supply and get the rest of the world to boycott their exports. It’s not so far-fetched is it? Most people are killing themselves eating fast food and drinking high-fructose corn syrup, but for those pesky individuals among us who are trying to be healthy… Monsanto’s got you covered.

  21. In reality, a small farm like the one involved is barely worth Monsanto to pay attention to. I hardly feel that the company deserves the wrath being directed to it for this incident. As stated before, the company is LOSING money when this sort of thing happens; a single, small, family-owned organic farm isn’t worth the thousands of dollars that a duster a field’s worth of chemicals would cost.

    GMO’s have been developed to benefit the mass population. In other words, the research has been done to feed the world, not just America. Drought-resistant maize is being worked on to be introduced into Africa. If it weren’t for triple-stack corn (and I bet few of you know what that means), we’d have to use double- to quadruple-times the amount of harmful chemicals.

    I am not saying that mass-production agriculture as is stands if perfect. In fact, half of my job is teaching people how to live more natural, beneficial, healthful lifestyles. But as it stands, GMO’s are responsible for improving quality of life in many places. Until organic farming can find a way to reach that level of sustainability, I stand by GMO’s.

  22. I would like to point out that in the first paragraph of the above comment that I did NOT mean the organic farm is worthless: simply than a single small farm should not have been viewed as any type of threat. As stated in past comments, I myself work in nutrition and teach others about living naturally, organically, and/or raw. I fully understand the benefits of leading such a lifestyle, but also understand the necessity of mass production agriculture.

  23. A couple of things, Kelly. If we push aside any incriminations and simply look at what happened as “a mistake” it still stands out as an unnecessary action– and therefore reprehensible. It is sadder because of the long-term effects of this toxin being sprayed on this farm and its workers… will Monsanto address the long-term effects? Not likely.

    I must also take issue with GMOs being responsible for improving the quality of life abroad. If you look at a load of “nutritional” products with unknown long-term effects b/c of their genetics, being dropped off in some African community, this is a very short-sighted and potentially disasterous situation. Take another read on what countries in Africa think of “terminator seeds”. Take a look at WHY various global countries have set aside indigenous, heritage seeds in secure vaults. Countries that haven’t done this are ones whose governments are pretty corrupt and not looking at sustainable agriculture in any serious, knowledgeable way.

    I come from an agricultural background. My father was actually instrumental in introducing “seed patents” in our country in the early 60s and is very regretful– was regretful almost immediately when he was ‘briefed’ a little too late to stop the legislation. He is still sharp-minded in his 80s and a wealth of information for anyone who wants to ‘talk agriculture’ (or history or whatever lol). I am amazed at his understanding of a sustainable agricultural system… he has lots of regrets, too, for his part in ushering in the Big Farma chemical companies.

    I can understand your concern for peoples of other nations who are in famine and desperate need… I just think that the short-sighted view (I’m being generous here)is NOT the vision that will sustain our global peoples and their food-growing lands.

  24. Monsanto=the seed Nazis

  25. Here in Minnesota, When we posted our small farm as Organic, the sprayers backed up to the fences with our pregnant sows and let it blast in 17 mph winds directing it over the sows and the pasture they were in. Within 3 weeks 7 of the 9 aborted their fetuses and 1 absorbed hers with 1 sow having 3 normal looking piglets and 1 monster that was dead at birth. When we filed a complaint with the Department of Agriculture the following spring the applicators again backed up to the fence and let it blow with Atrazine and Metalachlor delivering an almost lethal dose to a man with Parkinsons Disease who could not leave the area who was with 3 young children at the time. The man with Parkinsons had an immediate falling off of medications and a rapid progression of his disease. The company was fined approxiametly 2500.00 which can be reimbursed by the department of Agriculture to the company. The applicators license should have been pulled and he should have been charged criminally instead he is a applicator in good standing with the state.This has been ongoing and the County Attorneys are responsible to press charges and they don’t.

  26. We used to live in New Cuyama, California, a small community along Highway 166. Surrounding it there is a large carrot operation there both conventional and, supposedly, organic, across the street from each other, both run by an operation called Grimmway Farms. The operator was and probably still is a guy by the name of Dale Jackson. It seemed like the guy was constantly flying over in his crop duster, a little yellow plane spraying his fields. As winds were a regularity out there I had to question the integrity of his organic fields. I called the local ag commissioner who gave me his telephone number. So I called him to ask what he sprays since our small town was on the edge of his fields. I wanted to know what we were being exposed to. I was very polite as I was hoping to get some info. No dice. The guy was immediately abusive and threatening. In the course of our “conversation” he let out that he believed that I was calling from the school. There is an elementary school also next to his fields. I later researched and discovered the school had been closed twice in the past due to overspraying and contamination. The guy had no remorse whatsoever for these incidents and couldn’t care less who was exposed. Believing that I was calling from the school he threatened that he was going to call the school district and complain. We finally moved because I didn’t want my daughter, who was about to enter school attending there and because we were worried about the constant spraying around our town. I believe if an investigation was done they’d find that his so-called “organic” operations, the carrots from which I’ve found in natural food stores around the central coast are no more organic that his conventional ones. In my opinion the guy is a total fraud.

  27. Here’s an article about one of the New Cuyama incidents.

    “In May, in the agricultural community of New Cuyama in Santa Barbara County, a pesticide drift incident prompted the evacuation and closure of New Cuyama Elementary School. Five school employees and 17 students suffered nausea, sinus headaches, sore throats, burning eyes, vomiting and fainting after being exposed to off-gassing of the toxic pesticide metam sodium, which had been applied to an adjacent agricultural field several days earlier.”

    http://articles.latimes.com/1999/sep/05/local/me-7101

    They talk about a one mile buffer from sprinkler application of these toxic chemicals but what is he spraying from that airplane?

  28. That sure is hateful to ruin someone’s organic certification. That old saying holds true, “good fences make good neighbors.” But how high a fence must be to stop a light plane.

  29. Mica Lehman of Monsanto. You could put some money in your apology handshake. Why do you need to screw with genetics of food and sell people dead seeds anyway. Are you really that destructive? This is why Monsanto is a hated name like Haliburton. People don’t fear power, they fear abuse.

  30. How can Monsanto be “nazis” if they are apparently so focused on keeping black africans from starving themselves?

  31. It seems to me that a farmer should wait to see if there crop has been “decertified” before talking about lawsuits and legal battles over crop dusting neear his field. This article and the following posts read like the guy intentionaly assulted a farm field as if he wanted to drop a deadly bomb on a threatening enemy. And the comments about the pilot are rediculous. I’m sure that the guy worked EXTREMELY HARD to get his commercial pilots certificate, they do not just hand them out for a small fee. You have to prove your are able and qualified and I’ll be willing to bet that most people that have posted and even the person that wrote this article have not accomplished what this man has. It’s not an easy task.

  32. Anyone who cares to investigate objectively just a little bit can find out how Monsanto and corporations like it operate. They figured prominently in the show “The Corporation. Got money? Got lawyers? They have. They count on the public and competition not to.

  33. Kelly Rivard is a Monsanto shill.Brad Mitchell the usual media pr guy must be on holiday?
    Triple stack corn, no wait now they have an 8 stack!
    the more they add gene snips the more chance of errors and mutations there are. they admit!! that the PVR plants loose their traits!!!! if seed is saved! ie roundup begins to affect them, and most are hybrids anyway.(dont breed true, revert to poor species)
    The pilot should have his licence removed, and monsanto own the land contracted, arranged it and chose the chemicals. so how? are they NOT directly guilty?
    See the world according to Monsanto,
    go to the union of concerned scientists and see just how untrue the yield /lower pesticides/ etc etc, really are.
    RR resistance now reqires 2,4D or Triazine to knock off volunteer GM and RR Weeds. less chemical use my butt! more roundup, then more toxic chem.Buy up all the seed companies and contaminate and patent the germ plasm, make it damned near impossible to source and NON GM seed, contaminate sue and drive small farmers off their land,Wonderful record of it.FACT ; USDA was partners with Delta Pine and Land, who developed Terminator Genes. guess who bought Delta?? yup! Monsanto!
    so? do any of you have any questions now, about why? the USDA approves just about every GM product??
    a 42 day shed trial on 2 sheds of chickens does NOT constitute a safety test, especially when one sheds data is not available. yet FDA and FSANZ both accepted that? as proof a 2x modified soy is ok for HUMAN consumption!

  34. As a Newbie, I am always searching online for articles that can help me. Thank you

  35. Very cool! Glad I found this post. I wanted to say hello and thanks for posting such good stuff. – Devin

  36. They are just greedy pigs who care nothing for the earth. I can’t believe they can just file bankruptcy and get away with owing the farmers so much money. There has to be a loophole for the farmers if there is such a huge loophole for THEM to sneak away…it’s just not right

  37. You know what is the kicker? Do these Monsanto people think they are immune from the effects of eating their GMO’ed crops?? How can they sleep at night??? These are among the worst of evils that could ever be perpetrated on this earth!! We cannot accept this….

  38. This is a flagrant disregard of the rule of law and decency, something that Monsanto is immune from. I would wager that the pilot was given a few extra $ to go a bit off course to take out the organic farm. Fedco seeds in New England has informed its customers that Monsanto has purchased some lines of heirloom seeds so they are now unavailable for purchase…and most likely have been destroyed. And does anyone care? As long as food is cheap, the average American, 85% of the population (see George Orwell) will not care about any of this.

  39. It doesn’t matter if they just file for bankruptcy, there’s no statute of limitation on destruction of property. Can’t they claim that by virtue of destroying the organic nature of the food, it became unsaleable and thus resulted in huge damages? Best of luck to them anyway! Great blog, keep writing!

  40. that is pure T evil. why not put up tall nets that have to be avoided by the planes, thus forcing them to not be able to fly over the organic farm? just an idea.

  41. What a terrible and planned destructive act!

  42. grrrrrr

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