Terrence Ingram is the victim of illegal government search and seizure, having his Fourth Amendment Constitutional rights violated when his property was searched by Illinois State officials, and his honey bees were confiscated without due process. His situation is a perfect example of why I often argue that government’s power needs to be severely restricted, in order to protect individuals from harassment. Terrence Ingram appears to have been targeted because he had raised a number of bees that were resistant to a Monsanto produced herbicide called Round-Up. He was also performing research on why particular bees were resistant to Round-Up, so that an essential part of producing food for our society–honey bees pollinating plants–is not threatened.
Already bees are disappearing, and 15 years of Ingram’s research that could have helped the matter was destroyed. When the government is allowed to intervene in individuals’ matters, this is what we get; a giant government connected company using the government as its bludgeoning tool to eradicate small competitors, and anyone else who poses a threat to business. If Monsanto ever has a chance of monopolizing the growing of food and controlling the food supply, the only way for them to succeed is for government intervention to be allowed. If individuals’ rights were protected, Monsanto would have no “legal” means to harass farmers, and ruin beekeepers that threaten their government backed business.
Ingram’s accumulated research was starting to suggest that the nationwide bee disappearance problem was directly linked to the Monsanto product Round-Up, which is why he was targeted by government. The state of Illinois has a statute that allows the government to come onto private property of beekeepers and inspect the bees and hives. This again is part of the reason why regulation works to the benefit of giant companies who will use it to destroy threats to their business. The excuse of the inspectors was that Ingram’s hives were infected with foul-brood, yet the inspectors seemed to have no knowledge of how bee colonies work, or were deliberately misleading in the evidence they collected. Ingram claims that pictures and evidence were taken after the bees had stopped producing, and were calming down for the winter to conserve energy. Never-the-less, state inspectors claimed that his hives were infected because the bees were calm and lethargic. Bees also cluster in the winter to keep warm, which is why the picture taken of the hive in 3 degree temperatures can in no way show whether the hive was healthy or not. The Illinois Department of Agriculture has also insisted that beekeepers use chemicals, despite the tremendous success of Ingram and others who raise bees chemical free (the way bees survived for millions of years before chemicals began being used 60 years ago).
Speaking about how he did not get his day in court until 3 weeks after his property was stolen, Ingram had this to say:
My question is, whether we’re in a police state. I hope we’re not. I hope we’re not going that way but I sometimes I wonder. That’s the first time I feel my rights have really been violated and as a citizen of this state I’m just not pleased. I know that beekeepers now are moving hives out of the state, they are not going to register their hives, many of them… they’re not going to even join an association so anybody knows that they have bees. So we’re gonna have to do bootleg I guess and do it against the law. Because the law says theoretically that you’re supposed to register your bees. Well, if you register your bees you run the threat of them coming in and taking them, so why register them? … if they had given me a day in court to prove they had good cause, yes, I’d say thats fine. But when they didn’t give me a chance in court to prove it and without notifying me about a warrant I feel my rights have been definitely violated.
Combing through all the details reveals that the state had no legitimate reason to confiscate and destroy his property. It also shows that the entire case was improperly documented by officials, as they could not answer questions about where his bees were taken, if they were destroyed, or if some were given to Monsanto for research as to why the bees were resistant to Round-Up. However even without all the details, it is blatantly obvious that Terrence Ingram had his rights violated. It doesn’t matter that there is some statute on the books in Illinois that says beekeepers must surrender their rights to private property and allow state inspectors on their property. The Constitution protects an individual’s rights against state and federal government’s actions. The State of Illinois can point to that law and say, “see, we were allowed to do that”, but they still violated the Fourth Amendment rights of Ingram by not acquiring a Warrant before the search and seizure. Ingram’s Fifth Amendment rights were also violated, because he was deprived of property without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment made it certain that state’s are not allowed to violate the rights of individuals without due process of law.
So what we have is a powerful government working with a powerful company to deny rights to Terrence Ingram. This is our mixed economy, this is what people mistake for capitalism, even though the free-market is not existant in this country. When the government is allowed to intervene in the economy, in private property, and in “the interest of the public” we get a protected class which is able to oppress the unprotected class. Remove the regulatory power that the government has over these businesses and individuals, and it will remove the power that Monsanto has when working through the government. If the government is not allowed to use force against citizens, then big companies will have no legal means for using force against their competitors.
Check out the detailed article about Terrence Ingram, and watch the video below.