> On Wed, 12 Apr 1995, Robert Kluson (BIO) wrote:
> > In regard to Tracy Aquilla's post of April 11th concerning the
> > post "Organic Cotton-Help!!!", I want to note the following aspects
> > of the "dialogue":
> > 1) Several of the responses to... Tracy have quickly surfaced as personal
> > attacks on Tracy's credentials and credibility. . .
> > 2) One major dissappointment in the critical responses is the bias
> > towards a "nozzlehead" worldview even in this select audience of
> > sustainable aggies.
> >>>>>>>DH: I am new to this group, and was rather dismayed at
> finding that a subscriber had to defend IPM!! AND herself from personal
> attack!! I have experienced the exact same tactic from people who are
> extremely conservative in other newsgroups. I thought I would find
> people here who were well versed in the efficacy and rationale of IPM, or
> who wanted to become so.
> Because transnational and local corporate interests drive
> the media as well as Congress, it is extremely important for
> "alternative" thinkers to guard themselves against co-optation of
> alternative terms, such as "sustainable agriculture." . . .
Danielle, I couldn't agree more with you. Rachel Carlson would
definitely relate to these times, and probably feel as if nothing much
has changed. While this topic has not generated much discussion with
SANETers, it should be very important to all of us to continually reaffirm a
consensus on constructive dialogue among ourselves. If we are truly
advancing sustainable agriculture here, let us "criticize" and analyze
the system's inadequacies and constraints in fully implementing
sustainable technologies (eg. agroecology, IPM, etc.) on a case by case
Recently on 4-19-95, there was good news in the post Organic Cotton
Monitor from IATP. We have learned that the organic cotton growers in
Texas have been reprieved from state imposed "IPM" for 3 years. That's
great but let's not just sit around until the next crisis. Now is the
time for input to these producers from SANETers about how to reshape that
agricultural bureacracy so that greater emphasis on biological IPM is
implemented (see Tracy's post for examples).
> > 3) Finally, it is interesting to hear Tracy's call for the use of
> > property rights against the widespread application of malathion. Just
> > several weeks ago, a message was posted about Ciba-Geigy's use of
> > grassroots tactics for corporate lobbying purposes. Here we have the
> > inverse situation where environmentalists are being asked to employ
> > corporate tactics.
> >>>>>>>>>DH: The use of "property rights" is not a
> grassroots nor a corporate tactic, it is part of the Constitution. The
> Fifth Amendment has a "Taking" clause that states:
> "nor shall private property be taken for public use,
> without just compensation."
> The common legal interpretation given this clause is that the government may
> take private property under the power of eminent domain, but that it must pay
> a fair price when taking private property. . . Most common case law
> finds that environmental laws are not takings (guess who drives the
> "justice" system as well as the media and Congress). Only in extreme situations
> where an owner is precluded from making any sensible use of the land is
> there the possiblity of a judge finding that a regulation is really a taking.
While it is useful to restate the 5th amendment to remember the
historical aspects, it is not a fair description of the facts today to
understate the active role of corporate interests in redefining the legal
system's application of "tackings". Words in the constitution are empty
unless they are enforced, and this redefinition effort using property
rights by special interests represents a major political strategy! In
today's extreme legislation of anti-environmental regulations from the US
Congress, it is clear that a "tragedy of property rights" is a real
possibility for our country. Consequently, it is prudent to ask ourselves what
are our goals by considering the use of property rights to advance
protection and compensation of organic producers from legislated mandatory
> If the takings clause were to be used to assert that spraying
> poison on organic cotton crops is a taking because the farmer is stripped
> of the organic certification that drives his profit, it would be a novel
> case (meaning the lawyers would have to paddle upstream to change the
> accepted interpretation of economic viability of land use to include a
> special definition for organic profits, and that means a hell of alot of
> work and creative thinking!!!). . .
> This is not to say that bringing a suit based on taking from
> organic farmers is not worth a try. It would be very challenging, and I
> think probably has already been done and denied, so the more cases, the
> better, each done with a different strategy of evidence. . .
> I don't think there will be any compromising of future arguments
> for sustainable developments of land. Actually, I think the faster
> environmental lawyers start changing the legal paradigm, the better,
> although this closely resembles banging one's head on a brick wall.
> The only compromise that I fear is that the definition of economic
> viability of land use from the organic farmers point of view would be
> scuttled in a judge's ruling to undermine the very concept of
Yes, creative and critical thinking, as well as a long term committment
to work through the courts and legislatures, will be required to do the
job. However, maybe we could start a dialogue here around the strategy
of using property rights for sustainable agriculture purposes. Are there
SANETers with experience and/or plans to pursue this strategy who want to
add some input?
My own thoughts would center around redefining the concept of property
rights itself. (In many respects we would have a lot in common with
attempts to find/continue legal protection for other ecologically-based
concepts, eg. endangered species and habitat protection, as promoting the
common good.) Clearly, our intent would be to safeguard the investment
at the scale of single organic farms. However, there should be major
incompatibilities of the assumptions of sustainable property rights
versus conventional property rights. For example, conventional property
rights are ascribed to entities of a farm with marketable value, e.g.
land, commodities, structures, etc. Sustainable property rights would
require an expansion of this definition to include the ecological
integrety and components of a farm. For example, how would an organic
farmer be adequately compensated for the loss of re-established
populations of biocontrols with the effects of aerial sprays? This step
must assess marketable value, therefore, on previously non-valued
entities, such as biodiversity and watersheds.
My point is that "let's look before we leap"! Let's get clear about the
real differences in any use of the property rights strategy, and not
compromise our positions advancing sustainable agriculture. As it
stands now, the rhetoric using property rights from Congress and the Farm
Bureau does not support most attributes of sustainability, e.g. land
planning, carrying capacity, ecological limitations, etc. Let us not
promote directly or indirectly these efforts. Yes, let us join the
debate because it's here and going to be around for the long haul but
let's redefine it towards sustainability.
USF, Tampa, FL