Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Beyond Beltrami...

I seriously do hope that Frank Moe and Mary Olson do figure out how to run effective 'grassroots' campaigns with the core group of supporters they still have. Frank is a better deal than the Rev. Myers at this point, but he could be principled and more consistent, and he could profit from taking a rigorous course on debating, parlimentary procedure, and legislative tactics. I wonder if that is something that the Progressive Legislative Action Network could help him find.

However, I don't think that DFL progressives or even middle of the road Democrats are going to find much meaningful support among the large Green-leaning progressive base in Bemidji and surrounding areas until that constituency is invited to share power and be co-custodians of the DFL.

I told my mom about all of the happenings at the County convention, have shared the DFL ruling and challenge documents with her, and the newspaper articles, and about all she had to say was, are the Cecils still alive? Surely they know the process better than this... I think I told her that Lorraine Cecil was still alive and was involved with Mary Olson's campaign.

There will be perfectly good ways to aid the Democratic effort to recapture the State and Federal Legislatures without feeding the Beltrami Co. machine.

In Bemidji, effective issue advocacy needs to be done for environmental and social justice issues. Ideally local legislators would participate in this, but they haven't cast a wide enough net in previous efforts to stimulate discussion about wild rice or racial profiling.

As far as GM Wild Rice goes - the sportsmen of Minnesota and surrounding states need to know what hazard a GM Wild Rice, escaped into the environment and become a 'super weed' (see this recent article distributed on a Sustainable Agriculture listserve) might pose to habitats for fish and game species. Water quality experts need to consider the trade off between a GM Wild Rice that might reduce pesticide inputs in paddy wild rice (malathion) vs. a GM crop that has bacterial toxins that defeat lepidopteran seed eaters like Rice worm and also whether better knowledge of the ecology of Rice worm and the wild rice plant in agroecosystems might lead to Wild Rice IPM that would reduce environmental impacts of paddy wild rice growing while increasing productivity and profitability. This needs to be a statewide campaign that targets rural, ex-urban, and urban environmentalists, food consumers, and sport hunters/fisherman.

In a nutshell - removing a 'super weed' GM Wild Rice from our lakes and rivers would be trickier than removing Eurasian water milfoil, zebra mussels or purple loosestrife. Preventing its introduction is our only hope. There needs to be a permanent ban on planting GM Wild Rice in the state of Minnesota.

There is also a second argument to be made, that I can't make, as a scienticist trained with a bias towards empirical data and desire to understand seemingly inexplicable interconnectedness in ecology, that this interconnection to our environment has spiritual and cultural significance that outweighs the right of business interests to tinker with nature for small, short-term profit-making. I will leave that up to Winona LaDuke and the Anishinabeg people, but I will encourage them to consider taking this to the UN for consideration of the Red Lake and White Earth ricing areas as potential Man and the Biosphere reserve status, like Hugh Iltis sought and recieved for protection and recognition of the area of origin for Zea mays.

For more information see: Save Wild Rice - Keep it Wild campaign (website defunct as of 03/03/2013


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