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Food and Taxes 4.28.08

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Dear MP Network,

Below is a short piece on the way the soon to be set in concrete Farm Bill

still slights another emerging food threat (bee extinction), violating our right

to representation as taxpayers. As you have doubtless heard, every third bite
of food we eat comes from the work of our very threatened pollinators.
Please feel free to pass the piece on or republish it online or off.

If you like what the Metaphor Project has been doing pro bono online and
other places since 1997, please send your tax-deductible donation to:

The Metaphor Project, Post Office Box 892, Orinda, CA 94563.


Susan C. Strong, Ph.D.

Founder and Executive Director

The Metaphor Project




Food and Taxes

by Susan C. Strong

There's more to the world's growing food crisis than rising prices, food riots, and the rush to replace oil with ethanol. Some trends now surfacing as media fodder have been at work for decades. (For info on long term causes of world food shortages see: http://www.smallplanet.org/ ). But there is another, even more dangerous kind of food crisis shaping up in the U.S. It's one which legislators still at work on the new Farm Bill are largely ignoring. The fact is they are ignoring it while preparing to spend a lot of our tax dollars on things that just will make it worse. National polls have repeatedly shown that a majority of Americans want far-sighted, wise public policy. The kind of behavior represented by some Congressional Farm Bill antics is actually taxation without representation--something our forefathers took very seriously. It gives the phrase 'taxpayer rights' a completely new meaning.

What ignored food crisis am I talking about? As reported by Carolyn Lochhead in the April 19 San Francisco Chronicle,

'Farm bill little help to plight of bees,' the new farm bill still being worked on now in Congress will provide only minuscule research funding for the problem of bee colony collapse disorder, while richly funding increased farm activities that will greatly worsen commercial and wild bee living conditions. Since one out of three bites of food we eat comes from the work of bees and other pollinators, this is short term stupidity of the most amazing kind. We can easily predict the headlines coming someday soon from this one--Bees extinct, Food supplies reduced by one-third, Riots in U.S. And this mistake is being made with our tax dollars. Moreover, once current Farm Bill negotiations are completed, and should the thing pass and/or sustain a presidential veto, we will be chained to it for the next five years, since the Farm Bill only comes up every five years.

In a piece on the Farm Bill published last year (http://www.michaelpollan.com/article.php?id=88), Michael Pollan argued that people who could afford it were already 'voting with their forks' about our food, but that we will all have to get more direct than that, if we want to see any real change in our country's increasingly dangerous agricultural policies. For too long the Farm Bill has been off most activist radar. Farms and food in our rich country may have seemed like the least of our problems to many people. But this bill deeply violates our rights as taxpayers to get good government that protects and promotes the general welfare, especially when it comes to the bees. You might even say 'Bees R Us' ---what threatens them threatens us. But there isn't much time to have our say now; congressional negotiators have just given themselves one more week after the original May 2 deadline, to finalize this bill. Senator Harkin is the man in charge; he needs to hear that we want our rights as taxpayers respected when it comes to our food supplies.

For information about what Senator Barbara Boxer originally proposed for pollinator protection research in the Farm Bill and why, see: http://boxer.senate.gov/news/outreach/2008/03/0320.cfm According to Carolyn Lochhead, the original $20 million has been reduced to $2 million in the current version of the bill. For more on the pollination threat, see http://www.nappc.org/ and http://www.pollinator.org/ ) For a fun site that will offer new resources soon, see http://www.helpthehoneybees.com/. Also be sure to check out the new book coming out on June 3, 'A Spring Without Bees: How Colony Collapse Disorder Has Threatened Our Food Supplies,' by Michael Shacker. The book has been likened to An Inconvenient Truth and Rachel Carson's Silent Spring.

Susan C. Strong, Ph.D. is the founder and executive director of The Metaphor

Project, http://www.metaphorproject.org/ ; the Project helps progressive

activists mainstream their messages about sustainability, peace, and