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December 25, 2014
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Notes from the NOFA-NY conference; Weekend of activism and organics

Poet, educator, conservationist and farmer Scott Chaskey was the one of the featured speakers at the NOFA conference.


GMO crops also got a mention from Scott Chaskey, who is a past president of NOFA-NY and also an educator, conservationist, farmer and poet. During one of the two keynote speeches of the conference, Chaskey used a phrase coined by author Ronald Wright when he called the spreading use of GMO crops a “progress trap.” He said, “A progress trap is a short term social or technological improvement that turns out, in the long term, to be instead a backward step.”

The other keynote touched not on GMO crops but instead on nuclear power. Shinji Hashimoto is an organic farmer from Japan and head of that country’s Teikei, or association of consumer-supported agriculture operations. Part of his address dealt with organic farmers who were ordered off their land because it had been contaminated by radioactivity in the wake of the tsunami in March 2011, and the subsequent disaster at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant.

On the fringe of the contaminated area, one farmer was trying to prevent his rice plants from absorbing radioactive cesium by applying heavy applications of potassium. Hashimoto said the authorities insist they will clean the land, and eventually the famers and other villagers will be able to return.

Hashimoto, however, said the farming area is surrounded by forests. He said, “It’s not possible to clean the forests because the contaminants are among the leaves.” Even though government officials say otherwise, Hashimoto said, “They will never go back to their homes."