Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Rice, crisis? Really.

I have read with interest about people walking in to their closest market or big box store and finding rice being rationed in some areas of the country. This caught me by surprise as I had not heard there was a problem with rice production in the U.S. So I decided to a bit of research.

The California Rice Commission (ask me about agricultural commissions sometime) there is no shortage of rice. California rice that is...
You see we are growing lots and lots of rice here in the rural community state. (Yes, guvner Schwarzenegger, most of us here in California live in rural areas. Not big cities, and that mouthful of veggies you're enjoying, some country/rural bumpkin grew it for you.) Where the shortages are taking place are in places like India, Thailand, and China. U.S. farmers grow 90% of all the rice U.S. citizens eat. While the U.S. rice farmers grow 90% of what we eat, they only priduce 1 -2 % of all the rice eaten world wide. Wow. There is a lot of rice being raised elsewhere too! That's where the problem begins.

You see there is this evil group out there selling "premium" rice seed. It is being sold to poor farmers in poor nations. It is being sold to them with lies. The farmers that are buying this "premium" seed are being told it will produce a heartier crop, and they will have a great harvest. Well, it does. The farmer, like all good farmers, save a portion of their crop for next year's planting. It help defray the cost of planting and makes sure the farmer can produce a consistent crop. But oops! Did we forget to tell the poor farmer that when they plant that second year, using seed they saved from last year's harvest won't grow! Oh, we did leave that out poor farmer. It has been genetically altered to only produce one time. It is called a terminal seed. One time shot, and we have taken away the gene the great creator put in it to produce itself year in and year out. Because if we didn't do that, you would have no need to buy from us again. And we really want you to be able to only do business with us. Because we did something else too. We put a genetic marker in our seed that will pollute you fields. It will tell us that no matter when you plant again, you will owe us money. Yep, good business, good business indeed. Well, for us at least.

So when the farmers world wide planted the rice crop they thought would grow, it didn't. And now that they crop didn't produce a harvest, the world is short rice. And people are starving. We only have Monsanto and and the rest of the GMO kings to thank.