John, great job describing the Grange history and litigation issues happening. It's the most concise and objective explanation we've heard to date.
As far as the complex issues of litigation are concerned, it's our informed opinion after talking to Grange members and reading the court depositions on file that Mr. Luttrell is unequivocally and stubbornly refusing to mediate or compromise in any form or fashion other than using his imperial authority of edict to shut down- and take-- the California Grange properties for his own use, and spending millions of dollars of precious Grange dollars to do so through unnecessary litigation. He may talk about brotherhood and cooperation, but his vindictive actions speak louder than his words in this regard.
Mr. Luttrell comes up for election in November. We hope all Grangers see fit to have him removed through their votes, stop the hemorrhaging of Grange monies on needless litigation, and elect a Grange Master who has the common sense and tactical ability to unite and mediate issues as individual differences of opinions emerge.
As I said, there are more myths about GMOs than you can shake a stick at. Monsanto sues, based on intellectual property rights, farmers who cherry pick seeds that have the herbicide resistance gene. They want Roundup Ready capability! One farmer who was successfully sued by Monsanto specifically saved seed from an area adjacent to a neighbors GMO-seeded field. Of course, saved seed from a hybrid, GMO or otherwise, will not exactly replicate the properties of the parent plant so it's a bit self-defeating anyway. Patent rights on Monsanto's seed will eventually expire so if you are really inspired to save GMO seed, you will eventually be able to do so.
As the author said, opposition is mostly about Roundup, but it's also about Monsanto suing farmers who are accidentally contaminated by GMOs rather than the other way around.
Good to read that small farmers are starting to stand together in the Grange. They represent local food resources that are badly missing in modern life. However, that being said, I've always been a bit baffled by the anti-GMO stance of some small farmers. Those who deny the food safety of GMOs are simply in the same intellectual category as denial of vaccine safety and denial of climate change. The science behind GMO food safety and the understanding of the genetic mechanisms involved in GMO development are too well known and form a broad scientific consensus on the matter. There are more myths associated with GMOs (e.g. suicides in India) than you can shake a stick at. Furthermore, if you don't like Monsanto and its corporate practices, don't buy anything from them and more broadly encourage less corporate influence on the laws of the land. If you are organic and don't like mineral fertilizers you don't buy them, right? If you are worried about "contamination" from GMO plants you are probably living in an alternate reality where there is such a thing as plant "purity." Virtually every domesticated plant has a long history of drastic genetic alteration from its original species. Even your heritage varieties such as tomatoes are simply stabilized hybrids. Did you know that some people demonized hybridization as "unnatural" in the past? Simply selecting non-shattering wheat varieties altered the entire subsequent history of human food consumption due to the human selection of plants with a random alteration of one single gene. Similarly GMO technology very precisely selects usually one single gene for addition, deletion or modification and the results are tested to insure that the change occurred as intended. If you save your own seeds without strict physical controls (or even with controls due to random mutations) you are very likely to altering your plants' genetics to some degree every generation even without cross pollination from the next row of tomatoes. Further, even if GMO DNA enters your plant, remember, it's only DNA and your body in digesting the millions of DNA molecules you consume every day can't tell a hybridized gene alteration from an engineered gene alteration. We could go on and on. I think that small farmers could pick far more productive targets than the anti-science stance of anti-GMO attacks.
Many thanks to Mr. Collins for so adeptly covering a story that's been in desperate need of a storyteller. The California Granges are thriving, precisely because they have overwhelmingly supported the food movement's push towards creating a truly resilient, sustainable, localized food & ag system which places family farmers front and center. Stewardship of the land on behalf of future generations is absolutely central to the California Granges' ethos. When the story of the Grange's 21st Century rebirth is written someday, National President Ed Luttrell will become forever associated with an agricultural system that is not only unsustainable, but is absolutely certain to continue enriching only a select few corporate shareholders and officers at the expense of our climate, our soils, and our communities.
The Transition into a New Life: Church Land into Farm Land