The Seventh Annual Organic Festival in Beautiful B.C Canada. This event has taken place at the Summerhill Winery now for 7 years. Please view our you tube channel for many other video’s.Soon as we have next year’s date you can find it on our events page on the Locals Supporting Locals – Okanagan Chapter website. Like us on Facebook for many other events that take place in the Okanagan. http://www.localssupportinglocals.ca
Neil Young released his mini-documentary Seeding Fear yesterday, which coincided with the House of Representatives passing the infamous DARK (Denying Americans the Right to Know) Act. Seeding Fear is a 10-minute documentary that exposes how the multi-million-dollar biotech company Monsanto has unjustly sued small farmers for patent infringement on its genetically modified seed. The Dark Act is a bill that would forbid states from issuing mandatory labeling laws on GMO products, even in states that have already passed GMO labeling laws. Young’s mini-documentary piggybacks the release of his album The Monsanto Years in late June.
Seeding Fear follows the journey of Michael White, a fourth-generation organic farmer in rural Alabama who was sued by Monsanto in 2003 for copyright infringement after unknowingly cleaning GM soybeans for a local farmer. Michael says he was chosen by Monsanto to be made into a “poster boy” in order to intimidate other farmers.
“Many of us at Monsanto have been and are fans of Neil Young. Unfortunately, for some of us, his current album may fail to reflect our strong beliefs in what we do every day to help make agriculture more sustainable. We recognize there is a lot of misinformation about who we are and what we do – and unfortunately several of those myths seem to be captured in these lyrics,” Monsanto said in response to the singer’s album.
Monsanto abuses local farmers and farming practices
Michael’s story is not, of course, unique. Monsanto has sued hundreds of local farmers for copyright infringement. Much of the time, the genetically engineered crops inadvertently cross-contaminate farmers’ non-GM crops. The wind can carry pollen from one crop to a neighboring crop. Even though most farmers are innocent, Monsanto has the financial and political means to win the majority of its court cases.
The absurdity lies in the fact that Monsanto is able to sue farmers for their crops being contaminated by other farmers’ GM crops, but farmers generally can’t sue when their crops are contaminated by GMOs. Organic farmers don’t want to use Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds. The Roundup herbicide used on the crop contains glyphosate, which is toxic to human cells. Organic farmers wish to keep their crops pure.
Monsanto has tarnished farming practices that have stood the test of time, most notably the right to save and reuse crop seeds. Farmers can save money by saving and reusing seeds from previous crops. Farmers who use Monsanto’s seeds are prohibited from reusing the seeds; farmers must purchase the same seeds next year. At best, farmers can use the seeds for animal feed. Monsanto forces farmers to repurchase their seeds in order to make a greater profit.
Michael White vs. Monsanto
What makes Michael’s story unique is that he is one of the few farmers who can publicly speak about his court case. Most farmers go broke before they are cleared for a jury trial; however, Michael was the exception. He was able to settle his case with Monsanto in 2006 after he was cleared for a jury trail.
Michael took on the biotech corporation with his father, Wayne White. Michael says that the lawsuit ruined his father’s life, and that he went to the grave in fear of Monsanto. “It’s pretty hard taking your 80-something-year-old father to federal court on a walker when he’s falsely accused by a big corporation,” Michael said in the mini-documentary.
Despite Young’s campaign against Monsanto, the House of Representatives passed the Dark Act by 275-150. If passed by the Senate, the bill will make it impossible for states to require GMO products to be properly labeled. Just as was the case with Michael White, individual rights have been replaced with corporate rights.
The Panama Papers have brought the powerful role of whistleblowers back into the public consciousness. Several years after WikiLeaks’ Cablegate and theSnowden revelations, the next big leak has not only caused the downfall of Iceland’s prime minister (with others possibly to follow), but has demonstrated that the practice of exposing hidden information is very much alive. The struggle over controlling this kind of information is one of the great conflicts of our times.
It might seem that such leaks are rare. WikiLeaks’ publication in 2010 of the Iraq and Afghanistan war diaries and of US diplomatic cables brought major political repercussions, but public interest in WikiLeaks has fallen since. Whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations in 2013 about mass surveillance programmes by US and British intelligence services returned the power of the leak to the spotlight, triggering new legislation in the UK in the form of the Investigatory Powers Bill. But no mass movement of whistleblowers appears to have emerged in their wake.
Nevertheless, plenty has been going on. WikiLeaks has continued to expose hidden information, including files onGuantanamo Bay operations, secret drafts of the controversial TPP trade negotiations, and more recently a recording of anIMF meeting that provides significant insights into current conflicts between the IMF, the EU and the Greek government in their handling of the eurozone crisis. Other leaks include those that revealed HSBC bank helped clients conceal their wealth.
Old-world and new-world media organisations have developed processes to deal with anonymous data leaks and protect the safety of the whistleblowers. Organisations such as the New York Times, The Guardian and Al-Jazeera use secure digital dropboxes for depositing files anonymously. Major publishers established collaborations to share resources and expertise in order to analyse and make sense of the huge amount of data quickly and to maximise international exposure.
Leak activism and hacktivism
And beyond the major news organisations, a culture of “leaks activism” has emerged. Hacktivist groups such asGlobaleaks have developed technology for secure and anonymous leaking. Local or thematically-oriented initiatives provide new opportunities for whistleblowers to expose secret information. Citizen Leaks in Spain, for example, acts as an intermediary that accepts leaks, reviews them, and sends them on to partner newspapers. Run by Xnet, an anti-corruption group, Citizen Leaks has helped uncover major cases of corruption in Spain that brought to court leading Spanish politicians such as former minister of the economy and chairman of Spain’s largest bank, Rodrigo Rato.
As intermediaries rather than publishers, organisations such as Citizen Leaks remain largely invisible to the public. But their role is crucial to expose corruption and other wrongdoings and so they are an important feature of the changing media landscape. Following the WikiLeaks revelations in 2010-11, US scholar Yochai Benkler conceptualised this emerging news environment as a “networked fourth estate”, in which classic news organisations interact with citizen journalists, alternative and community media, online news platforms, and new organisations such as WikiLeaks and Citizen Leaks. In Snowden’s case, he (the whistleblower) worked with documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, independent journalist and former lawyer Glenn Greenwald, and The Guardian, a traditional media organisation.
Leaks activist groups and platforms are increasingly relevant because digitisation makes it easy to collect and transmit vast troves of data. The 7,000 pages of the Pentagon Papers that Daniel Ellsberg had to photocopy in 1971 would be a small PDF file today, while the huge amounts of documents that comprise the Panama Papers would have been impossible to leak in pre-digital times.
No love lost for whistleblowers
Consequently, as organisations become more vulnerable to leaks they try to protect themselves through other means. TheInsider Threat Program adopted for US public administrative agencies requires employees to report to their superiors any “suspicious” behaviour by colleagues.
Under the Obama administration more whistleblowers have been prosecuted than under all previous Presidents combined. Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison, Julian Assange is holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, and Snowden lives in exile in Russia. So as leaks become more common, the response by states and corporations becomes harsher.
Whistleblowers are exposing the secrets of the powerful and the foundations on which contemporary political and economic power relations are built. Activism based around hacking, leaks and the release of data has put tools to affect world politics into the hands of those outside the classic structures of power and influence. Yet as previous high-profile leaks have shown, the degree and direction of change is far from clear, and there’s no doubt that the consequences for whistleblowers can be life-changing. With the stakes rarely higher, the struggle to control information is likely to stay at the top of the political agenda.
If another last-ditch effort fails tonight to save West Bench Elementary, it could turn into a windfall for the Penticton Indian Band’s school.
Outma Sqilx’w Cultural School principal Phil Rathjen said his facility, which currently has the equivalent of 90 full-time students, is in line to get four new classrooms when it reaches 100 kids.
The new space would be created by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, the federal agency that funds Outma.
Rathjen said he had “a couple” of new registrations for the 2016-17 session in the run-up to the board of the Okanagan Skaha School District voting March 30 to close nearby West Bench Elementary, and going ahead with that decision could very well push Outma over the top.
“We’d be ambitious to say we’re going to get to 100 and we’re going to build, but we’d be hopeful for that,” said Rathjen.
“I think staff are certainly looking forward to the opportunity for expansion, but we certainly don’t want to do it at that cost” of West Bench closing.
Outma has a reciprocal agreement with School District 67 that allows students to transfer between facilities, regardless of their heritage.
That deal, combined with West Bench’s proximity to Outma and its relatively high number of aboriginal kids – estimated by a parents’ group at 40 per cent of the 90 learners there – bodes well for the PIB.
First, however, School District 67 trustees are expected to discuss tonight at their regular meeting a proposal from the West Bench to raise taxes in order to provide a special operating subsidy to help keep the community’s school open.
According to an analysis prepared by Michael Brydon, who represents West Bench on the board of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, a $150,000-a-year operating grant would cost the average homeowner there about $220 annually.
That’s a bargain compared to the estimated $6,000 loss in value an average property owner experienced the moment the decision was made to close the school, concluded Brydon, citing a U.S. study on the issue.
Besides his proposal, trustees are also expected tonight to hear from three parents from Trout Creek, home to another elementary school that’s slated for closure June 30.
The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at the school board office on Jermyn Avenue.