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Sowing the Seeds of Terrorism @ the Library

It’s not often that libraries and terrorism come together as topics.

Sure, there have been incidences of alleged terrorists possibly searching for their Internet porn on public library computers, and librarians gallantly fighting against the FBI for the alleged terrorists’ privacy. That probably happens all the time.

But it’s not like the terrorists are being terroristic inside the libraries. That makes sense, because if you were a terrorist who wanted to harm a lot of people simultaneously, heading to the local public library probably isn’t your best option.

A library in Pennsylvania recently had a budding new library collection eliminated because of its potential for terrorism, though.

The Joseph T. Simpson Public Library in Mechanicsburg, PA was informed by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture that its seed library would have to be discontinued because it violated state seed law, and yes, that is a thing.

Although the law mainly deals with the sale of seeds, apparently, “there is also a concern about seeds that may be mislabeled (purposefully or accidentally), the growth of invasive plant species, cross-pollination and poisonous plants.”

One might believe the possibility of this to be slight, and there are numerous public libraries around the country providing seed libraries. But those aren’t in Pennsylvania, darn it, and Pennsylvania is going to take this stuff seriously!

Why? Because according to one of the agriculture commissioners:

“Agri-terrorism is a very, very real scenario,” she said. “Protecting and maintaining the food sources of America is an overwhelming challenge … so you’ve got agri-tourism on one side and agri-terrorism on the other.”

My goodness, the library could be aiding and abetting agri-terrorists!

Curious about this agri-terrorism, I turned to Google News to find out about any incidences. “Agri-terrorism” yielded three results, including the article I linked to, but Google News helpfully asked, “Did you mean: agroterrorism?” Ah, “agroterrorism” must be the term of art.

So I clicked on that and got six results, which doubled my search and showed me there hasn’t been a wave of this yet, probably thanks to the diligence of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture shutting down seed libraries.

Even Wikipedia was of little help, as its entry on Agroterrorism is woefully short and mostly talks about the possibilities of using insects to cause problems, giving the example of the 1989 Californian medfly attack, which I didn’t know had been a terrorist act.

If you want something to panic about that you might not have thought about before, the FBI has a very informative page about agroterrorism. Even there it’s mostly about contaminating food or halting the food supply chain somehow.

“Attacks directed against the cattle, swine, or poultry industries or via the food chain pose the most serious danger for latent, ongoing effects and general socioeconomic and political disruption,” with foot and mouth disease being a prominent possibility.

Actually, you don’t want to read it. Just hope that stuff never happens.

Contaminating food, spreading diseases, disrupting the food supply chain…these are all serious issues. I’m just not sure what a public seed library has to do with it.

According to description of the library, the seeds are there for borrowing, and at the end of the harvest new seeds are returned, from either the harvest or by buying new ones if the harvest was bad.

So here’s what a terrorist would have to do. First, get a library card. Second, borrow seeds from the library in the spring. Third, return some different seeds in the fall that would be for some other invasive plant that would do something horrible.

And then the seeds would have to be loaned, planted, and have bad plants grow until they rise up and kill people or something.

Seriously, if the danger was of spreading disease through contaminated plant seeds, a terrorist could just toss some diseased matter into the library. Any terrorists contemplating this action would be dumber than the guys in this comedy about jihadists.

So kudos to the Pennsylvania agriculture department for taking themselves so seriously and fighting agroterrorism at the public library. If I lived in Pennsylvania, which I might for all you know, I’d sleep better at night knowing this is how the department was spending its time and money to protect me.

Now that the Mechanicsburg seed library is gone, I feel safer already.

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Comments

  1. Nemoleon says:

    Who needs a library card? I was just going to fill envelopes with Pottsylvania creeper, label them “Black-eyed Susans,” and put them in the handy book return.

  2. Peter Ward says:

    Isn’t this a form of censorship? Could be, right? After all the Library Bill of Rights states that “Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.” Seed packets fit in there some how. Seeds have an origin. There has to be some background to how the seeds came to be. And certainly Nature has its own point of view that contributed to their creation. Yeah, I think we have a case.

  3. The Librarian With No Name says:

    Okay, so the ag department appeared to have handled the library in an unkind manner, and the terrorism angle is just dumb under these circumstances. But now that it’s been pointed out to me, it makes a lot of sense that a library seed bank would violate seed regulations pretty much everywhere.

    I mean, nobody thinks that food is a weapon of mass destruction, but we’ve got pretty tight restrictions on who can legally serve food to strangers. Planting the wrong seeds in the wrong place absolutely can cause real environmental damage (kudzu!) and there are close relatives of edible plants that will kill you or damage your organs if you eat them.

    So a library seed bank violates agricultural regulations in the same way that a library casserole bank would violate health regulations. You’ve got seeds that aren’t backed up by a certified producer, aren’t properly labeled, and are distributed anonymously between strangers. It fails to protect the environment and people from both malice and stupidity on the part of people contributing seeds to the bank.

    So seed banks are a cute idea, but I’ve got to side with the ag department on this one. Just maybe don’t be such dicks about it next time.

  4. The Simpson Seed Library has not been Shut Down.
    August 10, 2014, report.

    THE SIMPSON SEED LIBRARY IS NOT SHUT DOWN

    I been been writing about this story all last week. Here is a draft of a petition on Support for Seed Libraries and GMO Education as it now stands. http://curezone.org/blogs/fm.asp?i=2193991

    I spoke to Johnny Zook, the primary person from the Department of Ag who corresponded with the Simpson Library. I found him well meaning. Here is that story, http://curezone.org/blogs/fm.asp?i=2194704

    The Simpson Library has done an outstanding job of uploading the significant documents and press about the Simpson Seed Library, and this story, http://www.cumberlandcountylibraries.org/?q=SIM_SeedLibrary

    Heather Smith wrote an intelligent look at events surrounding the Simpson Seed Library and its interactions with the Pennsylvania Department of Ag. http://grist.org/food/the-little-seed-library-that-could-get-busted-by-the-state-agriculture-department/

    I appreciate your feedback on my petition. It’s important for everyone to know that the Simpson Seed Library has not been shut down.

    Leslie Goldman
    Your Enchanted Gardener
    August 10, 2014
    9:30 am

  5. http://lj.libraryjournal.com/blogs/annoyedlibrarian/2014/08/07/sowing-the-seeds-of-terrorism-the-library/

    Dear Annoyed Librarian, Your story inspired by own words here that were written Saturday, August, 9, 2014. Thank you.

    http://lj.libraryjournal.com/blogs/annoyedlibrarian/2014/08/07/sowing-the-seeds-of-terrorism-the-library/

    I have read and reread the article by Naomi Cleason of July 31 in the Carlisle Sentinel and can see clearly how the seeds of so much ire have been planted. http://tinyurl.com/kx847zh

    I do not however, find the ire justified by reading the original letters sent by Johnny Zook, of the Pennsylvania Department of Ag, or the suggested Protocols he wrote that were accepted by the Joseph T. Simpson Seed Library . His letters did not intend to do harm, or say that the Seed Library was being asked to be shut down. The original letter was looking for creative and innovative solutions to a problem that he saw between how Seed Libraries are running now and existing Seed Distribution Laws. Later articles on the Simpson site discussed the Protocols that were agreed upon.

    PA. DEPARTMENT BACKS SEED LIBRARY PROTOCOL AS REACTION GROWS

    http://tinyurl.com/nehv6tz

    YOU CAN READ ALL THE COMPREHENSIVE LETTERS HERE ON THE
    SIMPSON SITE

    http://www.cumberlandcountylibraries.org/?q=SIM_SeedLibrary

    HERE IS MY LOOK AFTER SPEAKING WITH JOHNNY ZOOK OF THE PA DEPARTMENT OF AG, THE MAN WHO SENT THE ORIGINAL LETTERS AND WHO HELPED COME UP WITH PROTOCOLS THAT CONTINUE THE SEED LIBRARY RUNNING

    http://curezone.org/blogs/fm.asp?i=2194704

    THE SEED LAWS

    We do have Federal and State Seed Laws that exist now. We need to make sure that these laws do not interfere with a powerful national movement toward Seed Libraries and Seed Banks. The power of growing food needs to come out of the hands of a few multi-national companies and put it back where it belongs–into the hands of a nation of gardeners.

    You will find that the original vision of the Founding Gardener Presidents of the US strongly urged Seed Saving to ensure self sufficiency, democracy, and much more.

    HELPING UNCLE SAM MARRY AUNTIE (ANTI) GMO

    Check out my story called Helping Uncle Sam Marry (Auntie) Anti GMO for what I want to see happen long-range. The point I am making is that we need to get Engaged Growing Heirloom Seeds and Ancient Grains before we can expect the climate in Washington to shift.

    http://curezone.com/blogs/fm.asp?i=2181365

    THE INTERNET IS NOW ABLAZE WITH EMOTION
    A NATIONAL CONVERSATION HAS BEGUN

    The internet is now ablaze with emotion because of the progression of events at the Joseph T Simpson Library. These open the door to a much needed national conversation on Seed Saving and GMO Education. The events now open the door to a major opportunity to see where we are as a nation, and return to another paradigm.

    THE PROTOCOLS SAY THAT SEED LIBRARY MEMBERS CANNOT RETURN SEEDS TO THE LIBRARY, ALTHOUGH THE LIBRARY IS ENCOURAGED TO HOST SEED SWAPS

    This issue of returning seeds to the seed bank is central to the Seed Library movement and this will have to be worked out.

    PROTOCOLS ARE HERE
    PROTOCOLS ARE HERE

    AGRI-TERRORISM?

    The word “Agri-Terrorism” came into the conversation from one of the Cumberland County Commissioners, and the reference of associating this with those who are contributing their valuable time to participate in Seed Libraries has sparked volume’s of words.

    The Department of Ag was equally flabbergasted by this comment, Johnny Zook, told me.

    I would go so far as to say, from an Heirloom Seeds point of view, however, that there have been acts of Agri-Terrorism committed that have eliminated thousands upon thousands of diverse gene diversity associated with Cultural bio-diversity. The crimes committed by Transgenic (GMO) seeds are well recorded, and the destruction of vast Seed Libraries in Irag and Afghanistan by our Armed Forces need to be noted. The National Seed Library movement has come to restore order and peace. I welcome this national conversation that in the end will lead to a foundation shift and ultimately the Marriage of Uncle Sam to (Auntie) GMO. If you agree, raise your hand and Plant Your Dream now with the remaining Heirloom Seeds we have.
    ###

  6. Raynor says:

    Any seed libraries in Colorado?

  7. dan cawley says:

    Seeds are more suited to banks than libraries. see: Svalbard Global Seed Vault.

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