Edible Baja Arizona Strongly Opposes Proposed Monsanto Development

Edible Baja Arizona magazine posted this strong statement against the proposed Monsanto development in Pima County. View the original post of this article on its website.

A proposed Monsanto greenhouse in Marana would undermine and threaten Tucson’s designation as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy.

edible-baja-statementIn early October, biotech seed company Monsanto purchased 155 acres in Avra Valley northwest of Tucson for $3.74 million. According to reporting by Tony Davis in the Arizona Daily Star, Monsanto intends to install a seven-acre greenhouse on the site to grow and test corn and soybean seed. Without public input, Pima County’s Economic Development office offered Monsanto access to the financial advantages that come with being part of Tucson’s foreign trade zone. Davis has reported that this is essentially a tax incentive package for Monsanto, which could possibly reduce the company’s property tax burden by two-thirds.

Edible Baja Arizona joins many community organizations, farmers, and local food advocates in voicing our strong opposition to Monsanto’s presence in Pima County.

We request that that the County convene a citizen’s taskforce of farmers, local food economists, crop breeders, weed scientists, and ethicists to fully review and critique Monsanto’s plans on behalf of the Board of Supervisors. We also oppose its inclusion in the Foreign Trade Zone as a surreptitious tax incentive, and call on all Pima County Supervisors to vote no when it comes to a vote on November 22.

Our concerns focus on how Monsanto’s research in Pima County might threaten the integrity of our local food system in Baja Arizona. Other communities, from Hawaii to Mexico to Zimbabwe, have chosen to avoid the biotech corporations’ well-documented predatory business practices and litigation against small farmers. Elsewhere, their herbicides have reportedly contributed to the proliferation of herbicide-tolerant “superweeds.”

What is especially egregious about the proposed tax incentive is the lack of transparency and public input on a deal that could so fundamentally alter the trajectory of our 4,100-year agricultural history in Baja Arizona at the very moment it is being celebrated internationally. If the county is serious about supporting Tucson’s recent designation as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, it should be spending taxpayer money to support small farms and ranches, as well as place-based innovations in arid lands agriculture, rather than one-size-fits-all corporate-controlled farming and research. We believe that reductionist biotech research, which tends to homogenize our global and national food system, is antithetical Tucson’s status as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy.

Many people have questioned why Monsanto purchased land before the tax incentive package was approved. It is our opinion that the company intends to convey a sense of inevitability, to perpetuate the false narrative that we the community don’t have a voice in the matter.

We do.

Monsanto’s proposed tax incentive package will go to the Board of Supervisors for a vote on November 22. Contact the clerk of the Pima County Board of Supervisors to express your opposition to the tax proposal.

Monsanto’s proposal is opposed by two of the five county supervisors: Richard Elías (D) and Ally Miller (R). Supervisor Ray Carroll (R) says he’s still neutral on the proposal. Supervisors Sharon Bronson (D) and Ramon Valadez (D) haven’t commented on it yet.

Ask your county supervisor to vote no on the tax incentive package and to establish a citizen’s expert taskforce to review all Monsanto proposals in Pima County. Barring a no vote, request that the vote be delayed to include time for public hearings.

What can you do to voice your opposition to Monsanto in Pima County?

  1. Contact the clerk of the Board of Supervisors to oppose any tax incentive offered to Monsanto without a thorough vetting process and without input from the public. Request open public forums on this issue that is so vital to the future well-being of Pima County and our UNESCO City of Gastronomy.

Robin Brigode, Clerk
Julie Castañeda, Deputy

 All correspondence sent to the clerk is distributed to all supervisors. You can also contact your supervisor directly to request that they vote no on tax subsidies to Monsanto.

If you live in Arizona but not in Pima County, or if you are a winter visitor or travel often to Pima County, please call our supervisors and tell them you will no longer travel and spend money here if Monsanto establishes a facility in this area.

  1. Plan to be at the Board of Supervisors’ meeting on November 22 at 9 a.m. at 130 West Congress Ave. Fill out a card and ask to speak. We need to show our elected officials that our community stands against giving a tax incentive to Monsanto.
  1. Sign this petition from the Pima County Food Alliance. Send it to your friends.
  1. Save the date on November 17 for a community event at the Southside Presbyterian Church to learn more about the proposal and how other communities have effectively fought Monsanto. Another community event will be held at the Oro Valley Public Library on Saturday, November 19. 

To express your opposition to Monsanto:

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