In the early 1980s many of the laws key to the sustainable ag community
today took shape in that subcommittee. Mr. Brown's principles and quiet
leadership were critical and helped assure that at least some of the
legislation passed by the ag committee in that era served the public's
broader and longer-term interest.
George Brown was a deeply thoughtful and principled man. He was a Quaker,
and a scientist/engineer. He felt that politics was an honorable
professional and that people of good will could make the political process
work in the public's interest. I am sure his faith in the political
process was tested in his last years, but I am also sure he maintained it
to the end.
He was very interested in the applications of science to food production
and the food system. We held more hearings on S+T issues than any other.
Like then Cong. Gore, Mr. B. was definitely bitten by the information
systems and biotechnology bugs. He also believed that the complex, often
contentious intersections of
science-technology-agriculture-safety-regulation were among the toughest
tests of our public institutions and goverance processes. He worked during
his long career in Congress to try to sustain a place for reason and facts
in the way society works through contentious issues with a large dose of
the inherently unknowable.
After working for Cong. Brown I had the good fortune to work for Bill
Brown, then chair of the old (and long gone) Board on Agriculture, NRC/NAS.
Bill Brown was then the Chairman of the Pioneer Board and Emeritus-CEO of
Pioneer. I worked with Bill Brown for about 5 years. He passed away in
the late 1980s, I can't remember the date. Bill Brown and George Brown had
much in common, their faith, their respect for people, openness to ideas,
sharp minds that could isolate wisdom from facts, and above all,
compassion. They were able to engage tough issues with big stakes without
tearing anyone, or anything down.
These two Browns were statesman and scholars. They are and will be
missed. One wonders whether, and from where a new generation of
agricultural sector statesmen will emerge.
Charles Benbrook 208-263-5236 (voice)
Benbrook Consulting Services 208-263-7342 (fax)
5085 Upper Pack River Road email@example.com [e-mail]
Sandpoint, Idaho 83864 http://www.pmac.net
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