This past week was another wet one in central Kentucky. Because of that rain, many gardeners and farmers have had problems with late blight on their tomatoes. Mine are certainly starting to come down with it and other fungi and molds. Still, I’ve  picked more than 30 lbs. of tomatoes thus far and have saved seed from Black Russian, Striped (or Speckled) Roman, and Gold Nugget. All this rain makes for some mealy tomatoes. It’s definitely a good year for salsas, enchilada sauce, and marinara.

Speaking of putting food by, I am happy to announce the addition of a new writer to the blog. Vanessa, who’s garden was profiled a few weeks back, will write some entries on canning, pickling, and otherwise extending summer’s flavor. For those of you who don’t know her, Vanessa is one hell of a cook, a real innovator and creative genius in the kitchen. When she’s not besting Will Shorts and the Times crossword puzzle, she’s making ketchup (yes, ketchup), jams, incredible pickles, and the like. As canning remains a mystery to me, I am anxious to read V’s posts.

Would you like to write for the Exchange? I would like to increase the site’s content, and, more importantly, would like to add some different perspectives to what’s posted. As you know, if you ask two different gardeners what they think about something, you’re liable to get three different answers. If you’d like to write, please contact me via the comments section or by e-mail.

If you’re a regular reader, you’re already familiar with the story surrounding Monsanto’s new SmartStax corn seed. However, GMO seed is only part of Monsanto’s global strategy.

As reported last week, Monsanto has been working to change India’s intellectual property rights laws in order to control and profit from research conducted by university laboratories. Unfortunately for us, they have already achieved such breakthroughs in Canada and the United States.

This past week, Monsanto announced a new  research facility located in Manitoba, Canada, and an upgraded facility in Saskatchewan. The facility in Manitoba will be housed at the University of Manitoba, continuing a disturbing trend of the agri-giant embedding itself within a university structure. This is disturbing because of how much influence the company can wield on both the direction of research being conducted at the university and what happens with the research once it is completed.

As the article from last week pointed out, in America, this trend leads to less Federal agricultural research funding to U.S. land grant universities. With less Federal money, these schools will become more dependent on making money from the research they conduct. I’m not suggesting that it’s dangerous for money to be made on scientific research. However, if money and profit are the primary forces guiding what is researched and what isn’t, that leads to larger scientific and ethical dilemmas. When you consider that land grant universities are public institutions, the issue becomes even more pointed.

Finally, two links that further developments in the story surrounding Monsanto GMO seed. The Asia Times reports on the growing controversy surrounding the new SmartStax corn seed, the lack of thorough scientific testing done on this corn, and the evidence pointing to potentially dangerous side effects. What’s amazing is that this story gets more attention outside of the U.S. Not including the business and stock journals that reported it from an investment standpoint, most major U.S. publications have been silent.

The other link is to a frightening story out of South Africa, where three different varieties of Monsanto GM corn have failed. Clearly, all is not as good as the people in charge of our food supply would have us believe…

Folks, there’s much being done about our food and how it’s produced, and it is largely done without our knowledge or consent. It’s plain frightening. Despite of all this, or maybe because of it, I hope you take the opportunity to enjoy your time in the garden and the many fruits of your labor.