“Little Crop of Horrors,” or, How Can They Say This Stuff?

By Miryam Ehrlich Williamson

Only in America would an industry dedicated to selling petroleum-based fertilizers, genetically modified seeds, and pesticides so safe you’re advised to put on a respirator before you apply them to your plants call what they advocate “conventional agriculture.”

Only in America would a lobbying organization representing this industry – an organization whose members include upstanding environmental citizens such as Monsanto and Dow – call itself the Mid America CropLife Association.

Only in America would such an organization launch a letter-writing campaign urging the President’s wife to spray poisons on the organic garden she and a group of schoolchildren started on the White House lawn.

And only in America would an organization that calls itself the American Council on Science and Health (funders, according to Politico, include Pepsico and Coke. Their use of high fructose corn syrup and the artificial sweetener aspartame is implicated in the proliferation of obesity and related ills, according to reams of laboratory research I’m currently plowing through in preparation for my next book.) ally itself with the poison vendors to claim that by failing to poison the garden, First Lady Michelle Obama is causing increased rates of (simultaneously!) starvation and obesity, as well as cancer.

In a nifty bit of mischief, Jon Stuart of “The Daily Show” got comedian Samantha Bee to interview Jeffrey Stier, associate director of ACSH. The episode, entitled “Little Crop of Horrors,” runs 4 minutes and 35 seconds and appears below. In it Stier says the Obama garden “should come with a warning label.”

It’s irresponsible to tell people that you should have to eat organic and locally grown food. Not everyone can afford that. That’s a serious public health concern.”

His reasoning: “People are going to eat fewer fruits and vegetables. Cancer rates will go up. Obesity rates will go up. I think if we decide to eat only locally grown food, we’re going to have a lot of starvation.”

If you find yourself experiencing nausea as you watch this video, remind yourself that, except for Stier’s assertions, this is satire.

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I don’t know about you, but nobody could pay me enough to humiliate myself in public by uttering such stupidity.

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7 Responses to ““Little Crop of Horrors,” or, How Can They Say This Stuff?”

  1. […] doors in places like Health and Human Services, the Education Department and Housing and Urban “Little Crop of Horrors,” or, How Can They Say This Stuff? – ruralvotes.com 06/19/2009 By Miryam Ehrlich Williamson Only in America would an industry […]

  2. […] lunch wherever he can, recently plopping down at a tiny desk inside Rep. Barney Frank’s office “Little Crop of Horrors,” or, How Can They Say This Stuff? – ruralvotes.com 06/19/2009 By Miryam Ehrlich Williamson Only in America would an industry […]

  3. Thought you’d find this educational.

    Letter to the editor: June 19, 2009
    By: Jeff Stier
    June 19, 2009 06:33 AM EST

    It is so emblematic of Marian Burros’ “reporting” (“Grapes of Wrath?” June 17) for her to rely for info on a comedy show that’s known for using fancy editing to make things funny — and she didn’t even call me to correct the record.

    Burros quotes verbatim off-air what she should know is an already-edited interview, making it sound as if I predict both obesity and starvation will be caused by Michelle Obama’s one tiny White House garden.

    The simpler — and more linear — point that both “The Daily Show” and Burros may have missed but which I stated clearly in the full interview is that organic food is more expensive, and consumers (especially the poor) react to prices.

    In the unlikely event that humanity tried to eat “entirely” locally grown food, I said, we’d starve. These are, after all, the ancient agricultural methods that kept humanity teetering on the brink of famine for millenniums — and there’s no way to keep 7 billion of us alive that way. By contrast, if we simply switch a huge portion of fruits and vegetables toward organic, their price will rise, driving the poor away from fruits and vegetables toward generally more-fattening alternatives.

    I also want to point out that like countless nonprofits, yes, we accept corporate donations but will also happily accept donations from anyone — even Burros — concerned about combating junk science, as long as no strings are attached to our conclusions.

    In my nonwork hours, I am a gardener and an avid visitor to pick-your-own farms — which means I appreciate the great benefits of wisely applied chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Don’t let Burros scare you, kids (and parents) — even organic vegetables are made of chemicals.

    Jeff Stier is the associate director of the American Council on Science and Health.

    © 2009 Capitol News Company, LLC

  4. Talk about a WTF moment! Samantha Bee is a laugh riot, but Stiers, even if his comments were taken out of context (and I sure hope they were at leat that!) is really out there to assert that organics equals high prices equals poor people will starve without chemical alternative to healthy veggies. Whoa Nellie, there’s a trail of cow manure!

  5. Dear Miryam,
    My google alert for HFCS picked up your article. I too am researching literature for a book on the evils of HFCS. My proposed title
    (alas, I am a musician), is Killing us Sweetly – what you should know about HFCS.
    Have you read Dr. Dana Flavin’s summary
    on the “Metabolic dangers of excess fructose”.
    It’s available at LifeExtension.com.  I’m glad
    to know that there are others who are writing about HFCS other than blogging.  The CRA is an inordinately powerful lobby. It’s going to take  a lot of effort to get Congress’ attention.
    To your health.

  6. Nice post.

    This is kind of off-topic, but what is your favorite soil conditioning fertilizer? I’ve tried Bio-Magic on my veggie garden, but I don’t know how happy I am with the results. Anyone have suggestions?

  7. I would like to thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this blog. I am hoping the same high-grade blog post from you in the upcoming as well. Actually your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to get my own site now. Really the blogging is spreading its wings rapidly. Your write up is a good example of it.

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