Michelle Obama’s Garden vs Big Ag

April 14, 2009

Michelle Obama’s organic garden caught the eye of many of us and not everyone is happy about it. MidAtlantic CropLife Association (MACA) for one is none too pleased.  This is an organization whose mission “…is to identify business issues related to food production and to take action to address those issues identified as important to our membership.”  Who are the members?  They include Dow AgroSciences, Dupont Crop Protection, and the Monsanto Company as well as many many other less well known companies that are part of the agricultural business in one way or another. 

In response to the White House’s garden MACA sent Mrs. Obama a letter  in defense of conventional farming in America.  The letter can be read on La Vida Locavore. [A nod here to mom go green where I first encountered this story.]

Why did they send it?  It isn’t because they want Michelle Obama to become an ambassador for the American farmer.  No, the e-mail they sent to their cohorts along with a link to the letter gives a pretty clear idea of why they sent the letter:

Did you hear the news?  The White House is planning to have an “organic” garden on the grounds to provide fresh fruits and vegetables for the Obama’s and their guests.  While a garden is a great idea, the thought of it being organic made Janet Braun, CropLife Ambassador Coordinator and I shudder.  As a result, we sent a letter encouraging them to consider using crop protection products and to recognize the importance of agriculture to the entire U.S. economy.   [La Vida Locavore]

It is great that we have a First Lady who can cause any industry to take notice.  But it’s disturbing that MACA, or anyone, finds organic gardening worthy of a shudder.  I guess the organic farming industry isn’t among MACA membership.  Agribusiness is large and diverse; how often is one part of MACA  in conflict with another?  And when conflict occurs, who wins?  I’d venture to guess that the Monsantos and Duponts have more pull than most of the other smaller companies.  Still, instead of shuddering at organic food production perhaps MACA should be embracing it into their food production fold. 

If you think MACA’s letter to Michelle Obama is worthy of a negative comment back to them, CREDO has a petition you can sign.  And I have an organic garden to tend to.


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