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President's Ponderings: Intellectual Property, business and the Grange

By Ed Luttrell, National Grange President, (President's Ponderings Blog - 5/16/13)

  MAY 17, 2013 --

I’ve seen a few emails from members about our press release about the recent Supreme Court decision about Monsanto’s intellectual property rights and thought a few comments to the world in general would be appropriate.

First, the Grange, since its earliest days, has always been in favor of technology being used to improve crops, livestock, and all the associated practices and methods in raising them. While those early members likely never dreamed of the capabilities of science that we enjoy today, our policies have remained consistent in promoting the use of science to advance agriculture.

While GMO’s are a controversial issue for some, the science from our land grant colleges, the USDA, and others continue to show that there is no detectable difference from the food grown from GMO or non-GMO seed.

The Grange continues to support all aspects of agriculture, from a small operation feeding a few families to large farms helping to feed the world. The diversity in agriculture in practices and produce are good for American consumers and the starving in the far corners of the world. We will always advocate that we are good stewards of the soil, water, and air regardless of the size of farm. Science remains a tool to assist all farmers to continue to do a better job of protecting our resources while increasing the food, fiber, and fuel we’ll need in the future.

Second, the Grange has never supported or opposed specific business, or corporations, with the exception of co-operatives which we introduced to America and have continued to support. Our organization advocated for many railroad lines and just as often advocated against some of their monopolistic practices such as unfair rate structures. The end result of our fight with the railroads was the adoption of the idea that monopolies can be regulated for the public good. Even today, we take many policy positions for or against the practices of businesses. This does not mean we support or oppose them, just how they are doing business.

Monsanto is a large business, but it does not meet the definition of a monopoly as there are other large companies competing in the same field and many smaller companies in competition with them. We supported Monsanto’s right to own and protect intellectual property that they developed. While some of their practices may garner our opposition, on this issue, we believe that their rights were being infringed upon.

Third, our policies are the result of many discussions and debates and each are eventually adopted by the delegates of the National Grange. These policies then are advocated for by the officers and staff of the National Grange. The strength of the Grange is this deliberative policy-setting process rather than allowing leadership to create policies based upon their personal views.

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