Stop Pima County from Rolling out the Red Carpet to Monsanto
Update: The Board of Supervisors is meeting TUESDAY Nov. 22, at 9 a.m. at 130 West Congress Ave.
Please print out and hold a copy of the below image to show your position on Monsanto. You can download in PDF form by clicking this link: Stand Up To Monsanto Graphic.
In early October, Monsanto purchased 155 acres in Avra Valley northwest of Tucson for $3.74 million. They intend to install a seven-acre greenhouse on the site where they will grow corn and soybean seed for research purposes. Monsanto has negotiated an incentive package with Pima County to reduce their tax burden by two-thirds. This corporate subsidy will go to the Board of Supervisors for approval on November 22.
The Pima County Food Alliance is a grassroots policy council working for a just, local, environmentally sustainable food system in Pima County. As such, we wish to voice our concerns about Monsanto’s plans in Avra Valley, and call for greater transparency in this process. We are concerned that our elected officials are making backroom deals without vetting and input from the public, and we request an open and transparent public forum on this issue that is so important to the future of food in Baja Arizona.
According to reporting by Tony Davis in the Arizona Daily Star, 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.
Monsanto’s checkered past of patenting seeds and prosecuting small farmers for infringing on intellectual property rights when their GMO crops cross with farmers’ organic crops is of concern, as is their pending merger with Bayer, another giant chemical corporation. The environmental and health impacts of Monsanto’s pesticides and herbicides is also of concern to many.
Our concerns focus on how Monsanto’s presence will affect not only the economy, but also the sustainability of our local agricultural system, particularly given Tucson’s recent designation as a UNESCO World City of Gastronomy.
The UNESCO Gastronomy designation honors Tucson’s 4,100-year-old agricultural history, its multicultural foodways, and its work to end food insecurity and support a vibrant local food system. We do not believe a Monsanto greenhouse supports Tucson’s claim to be a UNESCO City of Gastronomy.
We demand transparency from our county supervisors as these negotiations, purchases, and plans move forward. Monsanto’s history of disenfranchising small-scale agriculturalists is not in line with PCFA’s mission nor with the goals of the UNESCO Gastronomy designation.
Please join PCFA in asking the Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry for more transparency in this process, and for the Board of Supervisors to reject a tax incentive package for Monsanto, which will only exacerbate corporate control of our local food system.
What can I do, you are asking?
2. Visit Against the Grain Nutrition to stay informed as this issue quickly unfolds.
3. Contact your supervisor (and all the supervisors if you can) and tell them that you are outraged that the county administrator seems to be making a back room deal with Monsanto without a thorough vetting process and without input from the public, that you want and demand open public forums on this issue that is so critical to the future well-being of Pima County, and that you vehemently oppose both a tax break for Monsanto and Monsanto in our community in any way. To find out who your supervisor is, click on the following link for a map of the supervisors’ districts:
Republican Supervisor Carroll, who was called an outspoken environmentalist by the Star, is not running for re-election. Write him and urge him to make his lasting legacy a good one for Pima County’s environment by voting against a tax incentive for Monsanto. Write Supervisor Elias and thank him for saying he won’t support a tax break for Monsanto.
To the other three supervisors, write them and ask them to come out with a public statement on whether they support a tax break for Monsanto or not before the election on November 8th. Before you vote, find out how the opponents running against them stand on the issue, then vote for the person who best represents your views.
If you live in Arizona but not in Pima County, or if you are a winter visitor or travel often to Pima County, please also call our supervisors and tell them you will no longer travel and spend money here if Monsanto establishes a facility in this area.
4. Plan to be at the November 22, 2016 and December 13, 2016 Board of Supervisors’ meetings at 9 a.m. at 130 West Congress Ave. We need to show our elected officials that our community stands against giving a tax incentive to Monsanto.