This exchange was sent to be shared. Gov. Schweitzer reminds us that claiming ignorance, passing the buck, kissing up and kicking down are political staples well beyond Washington.
From: Paul Stephens
Date: Thu, Dec 10, 2009 at 3:02 PM
To: "Schweitzer, Brian"
Dear Organic Agriculture List people and organizations,
Here is the response I received to my e-mail of November 29, in which a Washington Post story about pending anti-trust suits against Monsanto was discussed. Governor Schweitzer passed along my letter to the Montana State Dept. of Agriculture Director, Ron de Yong.
Apparently, Mr. de Yong, like Secretary Vilsack, is completely unaware and/or misinformed about the massive assault on family farms and the food supply by companies like Monsanto. Or, we can simply assume that they are all paid off, coerced, or otherwise controlled by these same ag companies, just as most university researchers, ag journalists and broadcasters, etc. have apparently been forced to accept, and not publicly oppose, the products and business practices of companies like Monsanto. You can e-mail him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
We now have a Governor and a United States Senator who are multi-generational family farmers, with Senator Tester actually having won the "Farmer of the Year" award a decade or so ago, given by AERO, a group which is devoted to promoting organic, sustainable agriculture practices.
Yet, neither of them campaigned against Monsanto or genetically-modified organisms, and neither seems willing to publicly express any opposition to the devastation which Monsanto has caused - certainly not in any legislation or policy initiatives.
As Burke said, "all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." Gov. Schweitzer claims to be done with politics when his term expires, so he is no longer seeking campaign contributions or endorsements from organized agribusiness or other PACs. His response gives me some hope that he might take some executive actions to protect family farmers, the environment, and the food supply here in Montana from further predation by companies such as Monsanto.
As for Mr. de Yong, I would suggest that he resign immediately. He is obviously a kind of "GMO", himself, posing as a "public servant" while actually serving nothing but the interests of murderous companies like Monsanto. Where do they find people like this? And why has no group like AERO or the Montana Farmer's Union opposed him?
Paul Stephens, CasCoGreens, 4th generation Montanan from Upper Highwood
On Thu, Dec 10, 2009 at 12:12 PM, Schweitzer, Brian wrote:
December 10, 2009
Thank you for your email . I appreciate the time you've taken to share your concerns about the actions of Monsanto.
I shared your message with Ron de Yong, Director of the Montana Department of Agriculture, and asked him to provide me some background information on this issue. Director de Yong provided the attached memorandum in response to my request.
I hope the information provided by Director de Yong is informative. While the agency is the best resource for information on this issue, please let me know if there is anything else I can assist with in the future.
C: Ron De Yong
Page 1 Memorandum
DATE: December 3, 2009
TO: Governor Schweitzer
FROM: Ron de Yong, Director
RE: Constituent email – Paul Stephens re: Monsanto
News and analysis about Monsanto always evoke passionate responses, in part because
the company is a dominant force in genetically modified crops and aggressively defends
its patents against rival companies and farmers it perceives to be violating its terms. One
can make the case that farmers need some protections against possible intimidation from
firms with vastly superior legal and economic power. And, there are legitimate concerns
that too much of the world's food security will become dependent on a handful of large
That said, there is a need for agricultural innovation to feed a growing world population.
This includes crop improvement through gene transfer and conventional breeding with an
assist from the use of genetic markers. Mr. Stephens makes the statement that "no farmer
has benefited from using Monsanto seeds." Quite to the contrary, Monsanto and its
subsidiaries are the leading sellers of corn and soybean seed precisely because farmers
have found they can produce more, and make more money, by using the technology. One
can argue that seed companies get too much of the profit, and that farms generally would
be more profitable if everyone produced less. But, in a competitive world market, farmers
make choices that work best for them as individuals.
I can't speak to the issue of RGBH in milk, except to say that consumer choice should be
encouraged. For choice to be a factor, food producers must be allowed wide latitude to
present information about food ingredients, origin and how foods are produced and
There is room in our food system for large and small producers, suppliers and processors.
Given the proper incentive and latitude, entrepreneurs will fill the gaps and provide the
diversity consumers demand in an information society.
Good answer, eh? Tiger Woods should hire Ron DeYong to reframe the mistress woes in terms of Tiger suffering a dysfunctional disorder where a "wide latitude of information" must be allowed and considered.
It is unclear whether that latitude of information would include any public discussion of the safety of biotech food or Monsanto's controversial involvement with the Montana State legislature a few months ago.
Great Falls Tribune - March 23, 2009 - Monsanto courts Senate committee at private dinner
HELENA (AP) — An unusual private dinner shared by most of a Senate committee and biotech giant Monsanto has led to talk that unfair tactics, avoided by even the most seasoned Montana lobbyists, are being used by groups that slip through the state's lobbying laws.
The controversy has sprouted over a bill that would set rules for how seed samples are taken from farmers' land for patent enforcement by companies such as Monsanto. On Tuesday, a Senate committee is scheduled to vote on a measure that has already passed the House on a 57-43 vote.
That St. Louis-based agribusiness, known for its sturdy varieties of corn and soybeans, has been courting the Senate Agri-culture Committee to table House Bill 445, although it's not currently registered as a lobbyist in the state.
Instead of offering public testimony at the committee hearing for the bill, Monsanto shared its opposition to the measure during a private dinner with the Senate committee at the Montana Club, according to committee chairman Sen. Donald Steinbeisser. Six of nine committee members attended the dinner, but all were invited, he said.
Full story - http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_17359.cfm