Sticking Up for Yourself: A Call to Arms

Reader Contribution by Jane Heim
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                The earth is full … This means things are going to change.  Not because we will choose change out of philosophical or political preference, but because if we don’t transform our society and economy, we risk social and economic collapse and the descent into chaos. … It is the crisis itself that will push humanity to its next stage of development and allow us to realize our evolutionary potential. … It is a call to arms – a call to decide what kind of world we want to live in and what kind of contribution we can each make to define that. It is about a future we must choose. “The Great Disruption” by Paul Gilding.

                Corn is America’s biggest cash crop by far, and across most of the Midwest it is the most profitable by far. Because roughly 40 percent of the crop is being diverted into gas tanks, a bushel of corn fetches a much higher price today than it did before the government-subsidized ethanol boom. …  Another unwelcome hazard of government interference in the marketplace is a bacteria that survives primarily in the residue stalks and leaves left over after a farmer harvests a cornfield. Historically, Goss’s Wilt infected a relatively small part of the grain belt: Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota were high-risk areas. Today, the area at high risk for this potentially devastating plant disease extends all the way east through Iowa and northern Illinois into Indiana. … Planting “corn-on-corn” invites a crop disease epidemic. It would behoove the federal government to provide an incentive for sound stewardship of Midwest farmland, which is one of America’s greatest natural assets.  “Crop Politics,” Chicago Tribune Editorial, October 5, 2013.

What does it mean to stick up for your organic/no-spray way of life in the last stages of the Industrial Agricultural World?

First let me explain why I say “last stages.” Although the Industrial Agricultural World seems to be extremely robust and going full tilt at the natural world, it is not to last. (See above quotes.)

When a twirling ball gets off kilter, it begins to wobble outside its normal path. Then the wobble becomes more extreme – flying wildly from one side to the other side – ever more outside its path.

It is like that with our present agricultural system.  Years ago it started to wobble. Now it is acting crazy – alternating from one extreme to another. For example:  If our herbicides have fostered Super Weeds, we’ll make more potent sprays! If our insecticides have created Super Bugs, we’ll make more potent sprays! We’ll spray more with deadlier sprays! We’ll get them!

“When will the industrial agricultural system collapse?” you ask.

I have no idea.

None of us do. Suffice it to say, there will be something – some tiny thing – that will change the balance of power. Some little thing like a microscopic virus injected into some hybrid seeds. Perhaps Goss’s Wilt. Some tiny thing with gigantic consequences.

All I know is the more grasping the chemical giants’ power becomes, (much like Rome became more radical and abusive in the waning days of the Roman empire),  the more it is evident this will not go on forever. Chemical farming is wobbling.

What does it mean to stick up for yourself in these times? It can mean persecution by your neighbors, buzzing your house by childish chemical pilots, and stalling by officials. In addition, if these officials can find any way to get out of an open and shut case – you can also bet on a no-violation on your pesticide complaint. This can lead to your loss of faith in the system and a deep sorrow for our earth and country.

I wish I had better news. Yet based on the reports from spray-drift victims in Illinois and in several other states who spoke to Spray Drift Education Network, those who have repeatedly stuck up for themselves against pesticide drift, have had to face this.

Rather than discourage you from reporting pesticide spray abuse, I use these times to ask you to rise to your highest principles – it will take courage – and report your pesticide spray incident. It is only by uniting in a single cause that we make the first dent in the industrial farming industry armor that has run amok.

I ask you to be strong and do what is right. As Paul Gilding says so eloquently above:  “(This) is a call to arms – a call to decide what kind of world we want to live in and what kind of contribution we can each make to define that. It is about a future we must choose.

It is vital we stick up for ourselves and choose a healthy future. We still have basic rights in America. It is time we insist upon these rights being recognized. Eventually … hopefully before the “little thing” causes havoc to our world and our bellies –  eventually the tide will turn. Already consumers are questioning what is in their food and how it is “made.”

Let us show the entire world what is happening in our own backyards.

There’s no need to feel like a martyr. Just firmly stick up for yourself and your right to no chemical trespass on your home ground when reporting your spray drift incident. You have an obligation to your family and property. Face that obligation squarely.

Be strong. Be great. Do your part to save the world.

Jane Heim, in 2011, co-founded Spray Drift Education Network (SDEN); a grass roots organization dedicated to helping Illinois citizens report and prevent pesticide drift. She presently lives near Paw Paw, Illinois on 19 organic acres where she is transitioning to a Permaculture Restoration Farm. She can be reached at 815-988-2628 or read her farm blog at