California is similar to Europe’s more radical anti-biotechnology countries. That was reinforced in my mind last week while listening to Patrick Moore, Ph.D., a dropout founder of Greenpeace, and Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

California is part of the United States but doesn’t recognize the federal government’s oversight of agriculture as sufficient and has its own regulatory departments and rules. Individual countries of the European Union don’t agree to work in unison, and the countries continue to enforce stricter regulations than the Union.

Their themes are biotechnology is unnecessary and biotech products must be identified. California is looking to enforce both of these. A California referendum forcing biotech product labeling is being voted on and appears to be headed toward passage based on recent polling.

The radical European countries accept the claims of Greenpeace as being the truth while Californians believe the propaganda of activist environmentalists.

The consumers who don’t understand agriculture have unreasonably strong influence in the governmental policies and laws that are basically anti-agriculture in European countries and California.

Justification of everything related to agriculture is to save the environment in as pristine of condition as possible, both in California and those radical European countries. Humans are to exist without placing a footprint on the environment. 

Recordkeeping and regulations for every aspect of agriculture have to be maintained, and the volume and complexity just keeps increasing in Europe and California.

Some might suggest that California regulators cave in to radical consumer/environmental activist groups, but Ross suggests it is necessary for “building bridges with our consumer base.” She also said, “We have to engage with a broader stakeholder group.”

Ross suggested that dialogue to build trust is necessary in California. But to those in agriculture, it looks more like consumers expect compromise by agriculture more than by the activists so that the activists receive three-fourths of what they want and agriculture gets one-fourth of a promise for the future.

Even though California agriculture is an extremely important segment of the economy, the state has multiple economies/industries; therefore, the importance is not easily or fully recognized. This is similar to Europe, too. California is not one of the states recognized as having an agriculture-based economy.

It should be noted that Ross has a farm background and family farming connection to Nebraska. She showed a complete understanding of the frustration that many in agriculture have in doing business in California.

She explained, innovations have saved sectors of agriculture in the state, but the innovation possibilities are running short.

With the state budget shortfall and cuts to the agriculture department, Ross said, “This year could be the train wreck.”

The recent trip to Sacramento and Davis, Calif., provided me with the opportunity to hear interesting points of view including Moore and Ross. They were guests/speakers on the agenda of the media event conducted by the Novozymes company.