Big Ag Gets Ag-Gag Envy, Helps Bring In 'Seed-Preemption' Laws Across The US

from the local-democracy,-who-needs-it? dept

As multiple Techdirt stories attest, farmers do love theirag-gag” laws, which effectively make it illegal for activists to expose animal abuse in agricultural establishments — although, strangely, farmers don’t phrase it quite like that. Big Ag — the giant seed and agricultural chemical companies such as Monsanto, Bayer, and DuPont — seem to have decided they want something similar for seeds. As an article in Mother Jones, originally published by Food and Environment Reporting Network, reports, it looks like they are getting it:

With little notice, more than two dozen state legislatures have passed “seed-preemption laws” designed to block counties and cities from adopting their own rules on the use of seeds, including bans on GMOs. Opponents say that there’s nothing more fundamental than a seed, and that now, in many parts of the country, decisions about what can be grown have been taken out of local control and put solely in the hands of the state.

Supporters of the move claim that a system of local seed rules would be complicated to navigate. That’s a fair point, but it’s hard to believe Big Ag really cares about farmers that much. Some of the new laws go well beyond seeds:

Language in the Texas version of the bill preempts not only local laws that affect seeds but also local laws that deal with “cultivating plants grown from seed.? In theory, that could extend to almost anything: what kinds of manure or fertilizer can be used, or whether a county can limit irrigation during a drought, says Judith McGeary, executive director of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance. Along with other activists, her organization was able to force an amendment to the Texas bill guaranteeing the right to impose local water restrictions. Still, the law’s wording remains uncomfortably open to interpretation, she says.

You would have thought that farmers would welcome the ability to shape local agricultural laws according to local needs and local factors like weather, water and soil. But apparently ag-gagging activists to stop them doing the same is much more important.

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Companies: bayer, dupont, monsanto

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Comments on “Big Ag Gets Ag-Gag Envy, Helps Bring In 'Seed-Preemption' Laws Across The US”

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ECA (profile) says:

Love it?

I love all the ploice stories on TV, REAL and imaginary..
I love all the Judge programs on TV..
ALL the different Police agencies..Wonderful isnt it..

Love all the people being arrested based on all kinds of Proof..

WHY cant we show how Corps are being run? Abuse? Robbing the citizens?? Finding ways to cut ANY| AND ALL corners and STILL charge us AS IF..the goods were made in the USA, with the BEST QUALITY parts, and a decent warranty..

AS bad as our gov, Cutting ALL the corners it can, THEN sending the money to the military, and WE DONT SAVE ANYTHING..because the CORPS get that money ALSO..

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Giving more protections to companies who have sued farmers for DARING to let their crops be fertilized by the GMO crops sending its pollen everywhere.
Suing farmers who sifted seeds & was able to extract better ones for patent infringement.

I see absolutely no downside to corporations that hide how toxic their weedkiller is in humans having total control of the ag business.

Once they figure out they’ve doomed the bees, no amount of GMO goodness will keep humans alive… but damn that quarterly profit was important.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

GMO is extremely unlikely to cause bees to go extinct.

I see more problems in:
1. GMO crops are immune to one kind of herbicide. Thus, you are going against centuries of knowledge about how using a single herbicide is causing a lot of problems like resistant weeds in the long run.
2. GMO has another genetic composition than natural strains. Genes may eventually travel to natural strains, which will have unknown effects on natural products and every field not using the GMO.

These effects usually show 10+ years after the first use: The effects are non-specific causing the ag-industry to be able to blame something else for them, like climate change. The effects are close to permanent, making repairing impossible. But 10+ years in the future, many of the legislators have left for another job. Also, there is some very scary paperwork from Monsanto pointing towards “fiddling” with scientific reports and not be as truthful as could be when communicating with people outside the company.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Personally, I buy non-GMO stuff to avoid the patents and generally-evil "Big Ag" behaviour (suing farmers, and winning, for planting seeds). That problem should go away after 20 years, unless farmers are still bound by some contracts; still, someone like me who hasn’t signed the contract could grab some formerly-patented seeds from a farm and replant/distribute.

  1. GMO crops are immune to one kind of herbicide. Thus, you are going against centuries of knowledge about how using a single herbicide is causing a lot of problems like resistant weeds in the long run.

The companies that make these GMOs might be depending on that. Patents on herbicide-immune crops will run out after 20 years. If the herbicide is still useful, who would need newer GMO strains? But if pests become immune to Roundup, unpatented Roundup-ready plants will need to be replaced with the next big (patented) thing.

JoeCool (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Bees WERE dying for a while about 5 to 10 years back, but it was not from pesticides. Bees have since rebound and are fairly common again. The most reputable reports linked the deaths to a virus from imported Australian bees. The Australian bees were carriers, not affected by the virus, but devastating to other bees, especially wild bees.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Dying, yes, but not dying out.
There was a noticeable dip in the population, but it was nothing that hadn’t been recorded before and it wasn’t a significant enough amount to justify calling it “the end of the world” and especially not by the massive amount of media and people in general, who did it.

JoeCool (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Yes, the media (as usual) blew things well out of proportion. It was worse in some places, better in others. Where I live, most of the wild bees died, and there were enough deaths in the non-wild bee population that farmers hired companies to bring bee-hives to their farms at the proper times of the seasons. As I mentioned, bee populations have rebound here, with the level of bees I’ve seen around my place being fairly comparable to how they were before the problem occurred.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

but damn that quarterly profit was important.

You only get to live once you know, and you don’t get to take it with you. So of course they are going to be so greedy as to make even Scrooge McDuck blush. They just have to have that money.

Of course the reality is it’s a failure of them keeping their lust for money in check on their own, and our failure to deny them fulfillment of that lust, especially once it started causing others to suffer.

Their greed is a disease that affects all of us, and they need to be put back into their place before their sickness gets us all killed.

Daydream says:

Irony: the more laws that are passed, the more lawless the country gets.

…Bugger, I forgot how I was going to elaborate.

Some kind of pithy comment, stuff about people’s rights, how police and big corporations don’t actually obey the law and this new one is just a rationalisation for bullying potential competitors, legal redress is so expensive as to be impossible while disobedience will see you/your family killed, enslaved in prison or left homeless…

Did I miss anything?

freedomfan (profile) says:

You would have thought that farmers would welcome the ability to shape local agricultural laws according to local needs and local factors like weather, water and soil.

Actually, farmers don’t see things that way because that’s not how it works. The ability of cities or counties to pass their own regulations on X doesn’t mean that the state or feds won’t also regulate X. So, that ability encourages regulations at every level, meaning more regulations overall, not just locally tailored ones.

Additionally, in many areas, those local politicians and bureaucrats passing new rules on how to use seeds or whatever aren’t farmers, don’t know anything about agriculture, and are reacting to volatile public opinion. Should a biased article in Rolling Stone about bee apocalypse prompt local panic and new regulations about planting "bad" seeds? What sort of local laws might come about from internet rumors that cell phones are killing bees? I can see how a state-level law to prevent such local legislation might be favored by farmers.

This isn’t saying I think the state-level legislation in question is necessarily a good thing. But, the idea that the nominal "local control" aspect of the current system would be appealing to farmers just doesn’t reflect reality.


Re: Hooterville City Council

I think you are grossly overestimating the number of city slicker rubes that are part of the equation in farming areas. The countryside is much less sparsely populated. There are going to be much fewer people in general and certainly fewer people completely disconnected with agriculture in farming areas.

The clueless rube contingent is more likely to be a problem in places like Dallas were social media causes triggers a completely unwarranted gasoline panic.

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