US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Is your backyard garden illegal?

By Kevin Clarke | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

It's a cautionary tale of some kind, deciding which one is the problem. In a simultaneous demonstration of the vast power of the internet to confound reasonable people and of the public's general distrust of both government intrusion and corporate power, a widely disseminated cybertale has given big-ag bogeyman Monsanto a chance to play a role it doesn't often inhabit: victim.

In an opinion piece that has apparently launched a thousand e-mail trails, cyberpetitions, and blog posts, one vociferous critic of current government and corporate foodish tendencies asserted that HR 875, a bill before Congress ostensibly aimed at improving food safety, had the ultimate potential effect (and perhaps subterrenean goal) of shutting down America's organic farming industry and could conceivably even be extended to regulate mom and pop backyard gardens around the country. The columnist warned ominously that the bill's sponsor, Democratic Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, was married to a Monsanto employee and suggested that the legislation was part of a Monsanto campaign to close off America's vast food market to organic farmers, a growing (get it?) threat to Monsanto's genetically-enhanced-and-drenched-in-juicy-pesticides vision of American ag.

Trouble is DeLauro's husband hasn't worked for Monsanto for 10 years and the corporate behemoth most remembered for such cherished hits of corporate malfeasance as Agent Orange, Love Canal, GM corn (whether you want it or not), seizure-inducing sweeteners, and rBGH in every cup of milk claims to know nothing, nothing! about this proposed legislation.

This of course has only encouraged the aforementioned editorialist who started this cycle of confusion and paranoia to retract. . . er . . . restart the whole shebang by cranking the argument up a few notches. What's a fella to believe? I guess we'll know the truth when the FDA's jackboots are stomping through our tomato patches (the resulting paste will naturally have to be inspected before consumption). In my garden, said tomatos will of course be Monsanto's Roundup Ready™ unvarietal , suitable for eating (kinda) or for resting on a grocer's shelf for six to eight months or use as a bookend or self-defense projectile.

The moral of the story: Be careful what tough rows you hoe out there in the cyberfields of the Lord!