Politics and food...ARGH!!! was RE: [tomato] Re Caspian Pink

cvinson@mindspring.com (Tomato@GlobalGarden.com)
Fri, 2 Apr 1999 21:11:34 -0500

I'm going to try and keep this brief.....a few things I've just got to say
about what is rapidly becoming an acrimonious exchange about a) tomato
pedigrees and provenance, b) individual's "agendas" on this list, c) global

First off, I bring some baggage to the table. Recently, I've been accused
with distributing "terminator tomato seeds" to roughly 1,000 gardeners
around the globe. The source of the original accusation remains unknown to
me (wish I knew, I'd like to smack him/her up the side of the face), but the
experience has left me with some real misgivings about the growing climate
of distrust and fear when it comes to something as fundamental as our food
supply. Granted that the Internet can magnify and distort issues, often
turning molehills into mountains. Still, I would NEVER have believed that
anonymous e-mail from unknown sources would cause people whom I had assumed
were rational to destroy their plants, burn their seed, and haul off their
potting soil as contaminated waste! And yet that's what happened in a couple
of cases. Other people said they were only inclined to keep the seed and
continue growing it because "a background check of Catharine (source of
seed) didn't turn up anything negative."

In other words, I am *very* sensitive to anybody accusing *anybody* of
distributing "bad seed". That kind of accusation crosses the line in my book
and had better be backed up with hard evidence before it's made.

For the record, I am seriously opposed to the whole "terminator technology".
I believe it is both a dangerous and a poor solution to the need to increase
crop productivity.

All this being said, I'm really amazed that Chuck Wyatt (someone for whom I
have had enormous respect) appears to be engaging in the same kind of "it
might be poison" thinking that was directed at me--and by association at
Chuck, since he was one of the suppliers whose seeds I distributed. With all
due respect Chuck (and I have great respect for your efforts and knowledge
of heirloom tomatoes), you do yourself no service by the tone of
"conspiracy" that comes through in your recent posts. I'm astonished. If you
have hard evidence that something is amiss, present it. If not, consider
that you may be causing harm to totally innocent individuals and companies.
As you know, I am no fan of Totally Tomatoes. Invariably, they mess up my
orders and ship poor quality seed. But to posit that they are part of some
kind of conspiracy (and that's how I read your notes), is plain WRONG and
unbecoming of someone of your stature.

Initially, I was not going to grow out Caspian Pink this season. Reason: too
many varieties I *must* grow out in order to meet a deadline. But after the
back-and-forth about the variety on this list, I am going to grow it out.
Perhaps it will "infect" all my other tomatoes. Perhaps the Evil Caspian
Pink will render seed I save from this year's crop sterile. So be it: if
this happens, I will have one hell of a lawsuit to file against the company
that produced and distributed the seed. And somehow, I don't think any "big
bad corporation" would be STUPID enough to leave itself open for that kind
of lawsuit.  Hell, with the proceeds from such a lawsuit I could quit
writing for a living and sit back and eat peppers (wouldn't be able to ever
eat another tomato, of course, since all the tomatoes in the world would be

I don't doubt for a moment that Montsanto and others are bringing SERIOUS
pressure to bear to "have their way". I don't doubt for a moment that our
food supply is being tampered with and degraded. What I do doubt is that
name calling and conspiracy-whispers do anything to advance the cause of
good policy or good gardening.

And I will now shut up and go back into quiet mode,
Catharine/Atlanta, zone 7b