There is something inspiring about community.
This week Santa Fe was host to the inaugural Edible Institute – a gathering of food writers and activists from across the country who came together for discussions on a variety of issues. Topics included how to educate the public about SOLE food (Sustainable, Organic, Local, Ethical) without sounding preachy, specific ethical issues affecting food politics, and of course a panel discussion on the Southwestern Foodshed.
Perhaps the conversation most relevant to this blog was the panel discussion on the Southwestern Food Shed. The discussion was focused primarily on seed sovereignty and the work people have put into legislation here in the state that will protect farmer’s rights as concerns their ability to not only save their seeds, but also to be safe from biotech lawsuits in the event that GE crops cross-pollinate through no fault of the farmers.
I was fortunate enough to be able to ask a question of the panel about the GE chile mentioned in this post. Unfortunately I failed to get an answer as to whether or not the chile was in production, but I did get a long history of the chile. Apparently the research is being conduced at NMSU, located in Albuquerque, and began in 2005.
Additionally, it appears as though while originally New Mexico was breaking ground in seed sovereignty and farmer protection, this is no longer the case. A Seed Sovereignty Declaration was originally written here in New Mexico and has since been signed by not only all the major Native tribes, but also by International groups. Unfortunately the state that launched this movement is now watering down the original language thanks primarily to a million dollar donation by the biotech company in favor of continuing research on the GE chile.
Additional information on the Seed Sovereignty declaration as well as up to date information on the status of the legislation in question can be found here at the New Mexico Acequia Association web site. I highly recommend all readers in the state of New Mexico read the information contained on this site and, if inspired, contact your representative to express your concerns over GE crops, especially the chile.
And while this conversation was most relevant to me given its local flavor, the other thing of extreme interest to me was a discussion on the rights, or lack thereof, of farm workers. Particularly those workers who may be illegal immigrants and who are working for large commodity growers.
There is a lot of discussion about how disenfranchised small and medium farmers are in the current economic situation, but the rights of the workers are frequently overlooked. In fact, there have been 7 cases of farm worker mistreatment that have been successfully prosecuted under this country’s slavery laws! The most famous of which involved workers actually being chained to farm equipment.
The conversation was specifically focused on the Imokalee Tomato Workers and their struggle for rights. More information can be found on their web site here.
All in all, the experience was fabulous and I really enjoyed participating. These kinds of community events are so important – to share information, connect with others and generally feel as though the momentum of the SOLE movement is going strong.
This post has been my contribution to Food Renegade’s Fight Back Fridays blog carnival. Check it out for more Real Food info!