Thursday, April 22, 2010

Mo vs. Mo in Food Inc.

As an agriculturalist, I have never criticized Food Inc. In fact I didn’t even have my pitchfork sharpened last night when I flew (figuratively) through the door at 8:45 p.m. after a meeting and turned on PBS. I did not see the first 45 minutes but I spent the next hour asking….can that be?

I’ve heard a lot about Food Inc, if not through the beef industry then via the Academy Awards list of Best Documentary Nominees. But I have been slow to criticize, because I simply had not seen it for myself.

One thing really surprised me. Although I’ve been in production agriculture all my life and spent several summers testing grain at the Co-op, I had no idea what a bunch of "jerks" worked at Monsanto. Wait a minute…my brother (who I find quite likable) works there. The portion of the movie that I watched (which was technically part two), didn’t spare any expense at providing Monsanto a one-sided fight. Especially, when all of the talking is done by those "poor farmers.” I couldn’t wait to hear what my brother had to say when I texted him while watching. Fortunately, this email arrived from him this morning:

"How dare Monsanto patent the seed that they put billions of dollars of research into? Why shouldn’t farmers get the technology for free?

To give you an idea it is estimated that Monsanto spends $2.6 million a DAY on seed research.

What they fail to tell you is that Monsanto isn’t out to destroy poor innocent farmers by taking them for all they are worth. Rather they are out to protect the patents of their products that they have worked to develop. One thing they also forgot to mention in the movie is Monsanto doesn’t collect a dime from the lawsuits. Anything that is awarded to Monsanto either through lawsuit or settlement is immediately donated back to youth scholarships and agriculture education groups within the area that the farmer is from. Click here for their side of the story.

As far as poor Maurice (Mo) Parr the seed cleaner from Indiana. No one stated he had to quit cleaning seed. He simply has to quit cleaning seed with Monsanto’s genetic traits in it. It was sad how the movie portrayed Monsanto squashing poor Mo. Read Mo here.

Then there is Troy Roush. Never mind the fact that Monsanto should sue him again for confidentiality violations as was determined per his settlement. The guy still buys seed from the company he hates."

I assure you my big brother is not a company spokesman, just someone who offers another side to the story. While he's not unbiased, he did mention he needed a raise. No one's totally satisfied with company policy.

However, while watching the video in my home, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for poor Mo and the gang. I have a real soft spot for elderly men, especially elderly farmers. I’m a prime example of one more person watching this film without all the facts.

Unfortunately, anyone watching this movie was doing it without all the facts. I was saddened and shocked by the blanket statements about dishonest people in the food industry. As a chronic perfectionist I’m open to a discussion about how I can do anything better, including raising food. I’m a firm believer that anything can be done better. But don't attack the hardworking men and women racing to keep up with the challenges of feeding a dramatically increasing population, that is demanding affordable food.

I believe there's a place at our tables for all types of production including organic, grass-fed, and conventional. I do however have a serious problem with one producer disparaging anothers product without true scientific evidence.

What this video misses is that we have the safest, most abundant food supply in the world that is the envy of our neighbors. Daily we walk into clean, brightly lit stores to purchase, affordable, wholesome, and (when prepared properly) safe foods. How lucky we are as a nation to have this much time on our hands to complain about it….it’s probably because we aren’t cleaning our own chickens in the backyard.

My lunch break is over and an hour isn't nearly enough time to dispel all of the myths in this film. Visit Safe Food Inc. to learn more about the films inaccuracies.

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