In the April 7, 2008 Concord Monitor there is a staff editorial on some of the benefits of eating locally. What caught my eye was this blurb at the end:
“Maine’s legislature is considering a bill to protect farmers from lawsuits by big seed companies seeking damages from growers whose crops are found to contain patented genes. It’s a tactic similar to the lawsuits filed by record companies over illegally downloaded music from the internet. Those genes from a hybrid plant don’t have to be downloaded illegally, however. They could have been in pollen blown by the wind or carried by insects, but that doesn’t matter. If the gene is found in the farmer’s crop, the seed company considers it a patent violation. The Maine law is an attempt to protect farmers whose crops are inadvertently contaminated with patented genes.
This season, gardeners can help protect thousands of un-patented, open-pollinated heirloom species grown by past generations. Some may not resist disease or drought as well. Others won’t tolerate the herbicides agribusiness uses instead of a hoe, or be of uniform shape or color. But almost all of them will taste better than their mass-produced relatives, and they tend to wear nametags that are apt for our times, such as the tomato varieties “Mortgage Lifter” and “Bloody Butcher.”
Good luck, and may your garden grow.”
For those of you familiar with the story of Percy Schmeiser, you know that farmers deserve protection fron pernicious agri-business giants. It was equally welcome to see the Concord Monitor encouraging gardeners and farmers to plant unpatented heirlooms that may not have the standardized look that many have come to expect.
Here’s the link to the editorial: