First, let me preface this by saying I have been a reader of Mother Earth News for more than a decade now. I've been a subscriber for just about that long. I've come to admire Mother's ability to challenge current views, to foster new ideas, to support an Organic and Sustainable way of living-- even if that makes them enemies and loses them subscriptions.
However, after reading their April/May 2013 issue, and receiving an email from Mother, in reply to a letter I wrote them about an article in that issue, I decided to post my original letter, the reply and my subsequent response, along with my reasoning for writing the article below. I've also put links in my original article on areas where you can find the information. I have noted that the "Dear Mother" section on their site still shows the previous month's letters, not the one I mention in the article below.
From: GrowGaia@gmail.com Sent: Monday, July 29, 2013 12:54 PM
To: Heidi Hunt
Subject: Mother Earth News - Letter to Mother re:GMOs, Monsanto, etc.
I've been thinking about writing Mother since I read Michelle Obama's article “The White House Garden Sets a Powerful Example” which appeared in the April/May 2013 edition. I've been a reader of Mother for the last decade and have a healthy collection of issues dating from before I became a subscriber. However, I was deeply saddened to see Obama's article with no reference at all to how her husband's administration is effectively fighting what she is trying to accomplish with her garden.
I've been prompted to write after reading Z. Bahti's letter in the August/September 2013 issue that I just got in the mail yesterday afternoon. Bahti is appreciative of the negative feedback letters Mother printed regarding the Obama article, but she accuses those letter writers of not having actually read the article in question. I read the Obama article, several times, and while I can find her garden admirable, I find it very disturbing that Mother hasn't published the facts about just how deeply interconnected the Obama administration has been with Monsanto and Big Ag. I find Michelle Obama's garden to be a marvel-- but a great distractor away from serious issues regarding the Obama administration's connections to GMOs, Monsanto, and Big Ag.
Admittedly, some of the letters were trashing Mother for taking a pro-Obama, hippy liberal approach and I'm sure that there are readers of a rightwing stance that would oppose the Obama article simply because it is written by Michelle Obama. I'm a hippy liberal. I've been, in the past, a supporter of the Obama administration and an admirer of Michelle Obama. However, after educating myself over the last several years about how invested our government has been –regardless of politics-- in Monsanto and other biotech and Big Ag companies. I would like Mother to publish an article pointing out how the Obama administration has effectively stood in opposition to Organic and Sustainable practices.I received a rather bland, uneventful reply that completely disregards the content of my letter, ignores my challenge to Mother to publish an article which portrays the Obama Administration's opposition to Organic and Sustainable food production, and denies that Michelle Obama, as the First Lady has any influence on her husband.
Indeed it goes back to the Clinton administration, however, President Obama has done more than any of his predecessors to guarantee that GMOs won't be labelled, that GM farming will overwhelm conventional farming and organic farming, and he has even gone so far as to support key Monsanto backers who themselves attempted to outlaw organic farming.
In addition we have Tom Vilsack, longtime proponent of biotech and Big Ag was appointed to the USDA Secretary post by Obama. Vilsack was perhaps the most vicious supporter of Monsanto, actively supporting and spear-heading the dangerous experimentation of GM crops and Factory Farming methods. Vilsack actively fought against any restrictions on experimental pharma crops, resulting in the contamination and destruction of conventionally raised crops which bordered the experimentation zones.
- President Obama appointed Michael Taylor, former Monsanto VP, as a senior adviser for the FDA.
- Roger Beachy, Director Monsanto's Danforth Center was appointed by Obama as the Director of the USDA NIFA.
- Islam Siddiqui, a Monsanto Lobbyist, appointed by Obama as an Agricultural Negotiator and Trade representative.
- Hilary Clinton, former Monsanto Lawyer for the Rose Law Firm was the Secretary of State. While in Congress Clinton supported HR 875 & S425-- bills that evolved into the Food Safety and Modernization Act of 2010 (HR 2751-- but began with specific clauses that would make organic farming and gardening illegal in the US. Because of the public outcry, these parts of the bill were never put into effect.
- Lidia Watrud, a New Technologies manager for Monsanto, was appointed to the USDA & later EPA during the Clinton through to Obama administration.
- Rajiv Shah, a former agricultural development of Monsanto's biotech partners, served as Obama's USDA Secretary for Research Education and Economics and is now the head of the USAID.
- Elena Kagan, Obama's Solicitor General before she took her seat on the Supreme Court as his appointee, sided with Monsanto AGAINST Organic Farmers in the Roundup Read Alfalfa case.
While Michelle Obama's committal to organic practices and gardening is commendable-- she stood firm when MACA, Mid-America CropLife Association, urged her to use pesticides on her garden and the American Council of Science and Health claimed organic gardening was irresponsible-- the picture is skewed. As perhaps THE most active voice in the Organic and Sustainability movement, Mother must present the above facts to its readers. If you don't then you are supporting the political nonsense. I don't oppose Obama because of a political divide. I'm in opposition to his administration's connections to Monsanto, Big Ag and biotech firms that have effectively destroyed our food sustainability.
I thank you for your time and for being an invaluable resource. I will not cancel my subscription because of the Obama article and find that readers who have threatened to do so cannot see past the political garbage. I implore you to publish something that can serve to counter the whitewash the Michelle Obama article has put on her husband's support of non-sustainable farming and gardening practices.
Staten Island, NY
Jessica, thank you for your comments. What Mrs. Obama has done, in our thinking, is not in any way related to what the president does. The garden stands on its own as a great example of self-reliance. It also was an excerpt from her book.
Mother Earth News
And so I replied again, just now.
Such a short reply and one that denies the correlation. When Hilary Clinton was First Lady her input-- and her experience as a member of the vast array of Monsanto legal counsel-- virtually gave us GMOs in the first place. Mr. Clinton's presidency undermined our food security by allowing the GMOs into the food supply and I believe-- as do many many others-- that Hilary's input as First Lady and her connection to Monsanto shapes her husband's administration in regard to GMOs. By Having Mother Earth News ignore the Obama Administration's efforts on behalf of Big Ag against Organic and Sustainable practices is very disturbing.
I will be publishing my letter to Mother, along with your reply to me on my Blog. If you won't print my Letter in the Letters section, then I have to wonder if Mother really has the truth at heart. I understand the article was an excerpt from Michelle Obama's book, but is Mother unable to rise to the challenge-- to present the fact that the Obama administration has undermined our food security by appointing so many Big Ag advocates-- which itself runs contrary with his wife's attempts at portraying a self reliant culture of gardening and sustainability?
If you cannot present the entire picture-- that is very unsettling news for the state of affairs regarding GMOs-- and I fear that Mother is not the advocate of Organic and Sustainable living as Mother's readers have come to believe.
I will continue to push the issue with Mother Earth News because they ARE the biggest voice in the Organic and Sustainability movement. With a circulation of half a million readers of their magazine alone, 176,000 Facebook followers, 43,000 Twitter followers, plus the tens of thousands who have attended the past Mother Earth News Fairs, all combined with the page views on Mother's site in the millions per month-- Mother Earth News stands to once again challenge the status quo. They stand to actually affect change in a real way by exposing what it is the Obama Administration has done. And, regardless of how wonderful Michelle Obama's garden is-- harkening back to the time of Victory Gardens, which is something I believe in wholeheartedly-- Mother can make a plea to Michelle Obama to really support our nation's children by speaking out against GMOs in our Food Supply.
I'm not saying that Michelle Obama's garden is a complete bamboozle to get Americans-- and the world-- to turn away from the issues with GMOs, but the thought had certainly crossed my mind. As a strong-minded woman, an independent woman, and a woman who actualizes change in a monumental, global way, Michelle Obama also stands to make real change for the benefit of the generations to come by opposing GMOs. It is absurd and a complete farce to say that women don't influence their spouses at all. But it is irresponsible of her not to challenge her husband to stand with her and millions of Americans against Monsanto, GMOs, and Big Ag.
Until Mother will take that challenge then they don't actually have the truth at heart.