Issue of The Seed Piece:
Wait for Justice.
Northern Maine is into the coldest portion of winter these
By daylight this morning the thermometer dropped to twenty below
zero. By late morning, under a sunny sky, the temperature had
re-bounded to +3oF where it stayed all day long. Knowing this
cold snap was ahead of us in the forecast, we shipped out orders of
seed potatoes early in the week before we plunged into this
The forecast for next week is for more of the same cold. So
keep the home fires burning and continue working in our warm 38oF
potato cellar, pre-grading last Fall's harvest of potatoes and getting
ready for the big Spring shipping rush which begins in earnest next
here for the
Wood Prairie Farm Home Page
Megan Gerritsen & Family
The Fate of OSGATA
et al v.
Monsanto Now In the Hands of Three Federal Appellate Justices.
on the Plaintiff’s Appeal of Dismissal in the landmark organic
community lawsuit Organic
Seed Growers and Trade Association et al v.
Monsanto was heard in Washington, DC last week on Thursday, January
10. The case seeks preemptive court protection under the
Declaratory Judgment Act for family farmers who through no fault of
their own may become contaminated by Monsanto’s patented genetically
engineered seed. The lawsuit also challenges the validity of
GE seed patents issued to Monsanto by the US Patent Office.
lawsuit was filed in March 2011
by a large group of 83 plaintiffs representing over 300,000 farmers and
citizens. In February 2012, Federal Court Judge Naomi
the case ruling that the farmers did not have standing to
Plaintiffs filed an Appeal
of Dismissal, identifying numerous reversible errors of law
committed by Judge Buchwald which led her to issue the faulty ruling.
“Our farmers want nothing to do with
declared Maine certified organic seed farmer, Jim Gerritsen from Wood
Prairie Farm, President of lead Plaintiff Organic
Seed Growers and Trade Association.
“We are not customers of Monsanto. We don’t want their
seed. We don’t want their gene-spliced technology.
want their trespass onto our farms. We don’t want their
contamination of our crops. We don’t want to have to defend ourselves
from aggressive assertions of patent infringement because Monsanto
refuses to keep their pollution on their side of the fence.
The January 10 Oral Argument was heard
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The Courthouse
building is located near the White House. The Appellate panel
consisted of three justices: Judge
Timothy B. Dyk, Judge
Kimberly A. Moore and Judge William
A ruling is expected within two to four months. If the
are successful in the Appeal of Dismissal our lawsuit will be sent back
to Federal District Court in Manhatten
Here are the words of Dan Ravicher, of
the Public Patent
Foundation, lawyer for
the farmers, in his opening statement:
“This case boils down to a
simple question. If plaintiffs
don’t have standing now, when will they? Do they have to wait to be
contaminated by defendant’s seed and be exposed to liability risk? Do
they have to wait until Monsanto directly threatens them, even though
Monsanto has threatened other people…” An audio recording
(38:32) of the
Oral Argument may be found here.
Monsanto attorney's evasiveness was striking to many in the
Immediately following the thirty-eight
session the dozens of farmers, aided by the publicly supported Farmer
who had traveled from across North America, exited the Courthouse and
joined the Citizen’s Assembly in Support of Family Farmers, already
underway in adjacent LaFayette Park. There for an hour the
farmers joined hundreds of supporters and spoke about their reasons for
traveling to Washington, DC. Here
is a video (6:19) of Jim
Gerritsen speaking to the Citizen’s Assembly.
Jim & Megan
Complete background information on OSGATA
et al v. Monsanto may be
found at www.woodprairiefarm.com
|Make a Date: Watch Betting the Farm Film
From Your Home.
The powerful award winning film Betting the Farm
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moving story of Maine organic dairy farmers who after abruptly losing
their market and facing loss of their farms boldly decide to start up
their own milk company – MOO Milk – Maine’s Own Organic Milk.
Maine filmmakers Cecily Pingree and
captured this genuine, gritty and sometimes humorous farmer tale with
over 300 hours of raw footage and then distilled the gripping story
into an unforgettable 84 minute masterpiece. Do not miss this
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share this authentic
story of challenge and hard won triumph by our dairy farmer neighbors
in very rural northern and eastern Maine.
Watch the FREE
the Farm trailer (3:16)
right now on You
Jim & Megan
Click here to purchase your own Betting
the Farm DVD directly from
Cecily and brother-in-law Jason on North Haven Island.
County Organic Dairy Farmer. Vaughn Chase.
|Carrots, Eggs or
story was shared with us by a friend from our community. Megan]
went to her grandmother and told her about her life and how things were
so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and
wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed
as one problem was solved a new one arose.
Her grandmother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with
water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs
and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil
without saying a word.
In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the
carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and
placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in
a bowl. Turning to her granddaughter, she asked, "Tell me what do you
"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.
She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and
noted that they got soft.She then asked her to take an egg and break it.
After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.
Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The granddaughter smiled, as
she tasted its rich aroma. The granddaughter then asked. "What's the
Her grandmother explained that each of these objects had faced the same
adversity--boiling water--but each reacted differently.
The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However after being
subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg
had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid
interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside
The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the
boiling water they had changed the water.
"Which are you?" she asked her granddaughter.
"When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a
carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?"
Think of this: Which am I?
Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I
wilt and become soft and lose my strength?
Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the
heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a
financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and
Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough
with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?
Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water,
the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it
releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when
things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation
|Recipe: Mini Potato
butter for muffin cups
potatoes, about 6oz each
and ground pepper
T heavy cream
oven to 400 degrees. Lightly butter 6 standard muffin cups. Thinly
slice potatoes. Place 2 slices in each cup and season with salt and
pepper. Continue adding potatoes, trimming as necessary to fit into
muffin cups and season every few slices, until cups are filled. Pour 1
T heavy cream over each. Bake until potatoes are golden brown and
tender when pierced with a knife, 30 to 35 minutes. Run a thin knife or
spatula gently around each gratin. Place a baking sheet or large plate
over pan and invert to release gratins. Flip right side up and serve.
Martha Stewart's "Everyday Food", November 2010
here for our Wood Prairie Organic Seed Potatoes
Mini Potato Gratins.
Photo by Angela Wotton
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|Our Mailbox: Good
Migration, Commons Compensation, Biotech Disinformation.
Like Good Wine.
Oral Argument. Ravicher is wonderful. He's like good wine: he
better each and every day. My thought was this:
GMO seeds can contaminate non-organic seeds, but not vice versa. This
is the 800-pound gorilla in the room. The judges seemed to insist on
some sort of case-by-case controversy between two farmers to help them
make a decision. And Ravicher did his best to insist that all organic
farmers feel threatened and beleaguered by GMO seeds, as well they
should with 95% Monsanto seed being grown. But ultimately, it's a one
sided affair, totally and completely unfair!
Dan Ravicher knows his patent law and he
displayed a disciplined approach in court last week. What is
fascinating to observe is that contamination of organic farms has never
ever concerned Big Ag or Big Food. However, now that farmers are
growing GE ethanol enzyme corn the shoe is on the other foot. Big Food
manufacturers are wound up about GE ethanol corn because it has the
potential to completely mess up their factory processes. A
contamination level of just one kernel GE ethanol corn out of 1000
regular GE corn kernels will cause processed recipes for products like
Corn Flakes to fail. So now the fight is on over GE contamination and
showcasing the mythical and false 'co-existance' fallacy between Big
Food and the GE ethanol corn industry. All of a sudden GE contamination
on the lips of the big boys because they are now feeling the pain
themselves. One can't always predict the impetus for consciousness
would be grateful
for your input. Most of Bermuda's seed is from Seminis. As you know
farmers like to stick with something once they know it works. How do we
encourage a migration away from Seminis?
Seminis was bought up by
Monsanto about seven
years ago. Some seed companies like Wood Prairie Farm want nothing to
do with Monsanto so we've added Seminis to our list of companies we
won't deal with.
One angle might be to engage the
farmers in an
exercise of 'what will you do when variety X, Y or Z is no longer
available?' History shows that as seed consolidation increases less
popular speciality varieties are dropped by companies like Seminis in
favor of fewer and more mainstream varieties. Virtually every vegetable
farmer has already experienced this sort of loss to some extent. The
answer many of us would offer to that question is that we perfom
on-farm variety trailing so that we have knowledge of backup varieties
should a primary favorite be withdrawn. Additionally, of course,
open-pollinated varieties shift the seed control back to farmers but
your neighbors, enthralled with hybrids, might not yet have arrived at
the point of appreciating OPs yet.
of GE Crops: Dupont-Dow
Corn Defeated by Armyworms in Florida: Study
never got a good
answer when I asked why Bt is labeled for armyworm but Bt products had
no effect on them last spring.
Of course resistance is a
interaction. A population exposed to an insecticide will have some
survivors even if 99.999% die and only 0.001% survive. Over time the
resistant population grows as hardy individuals interbreed, however
slowly at first. A population which has never been exposed to a
particular insecticide is obviously at a different point of the
continuum. So it is reasonable - for a time - to expect regional and
local variations in resistance. However, in the end, resistance will be
complete and universal and the material will forever have lost its
effectiveness. When it comes to loss via resistance of a naturally
occuring species of Bt
due to predictable transgenic use/misue, that loss to the commons is
significant. There should be culpability including compensation to the
commons for the neglient taking.
for you. I read that GMOs are not the problem but that GEs are, but
that Monsanto wants people barking about GMOs to keep the issue
confused. Would you say that's an accurate assessment?
For all intents and purposes,
GMOs = GE. The
public understands the issue as 'GMO' or genetically modified
organisms. Biotech has embarked on a disinformation campaign claiming
that their technology is simply a continuation of 'genetic
modification' which farmers have been doing (traditional breeding) for
hundreds of years. This is total malarky because for the first time
ever Biotech is transferring genetic material from one genera to
another (for example splicing a gene from a flounder fish into a
strawberry to enhance frost resistance). 'Genetic Engineering (GE)' as
a term is more accurate and reflective of Biotech's real essense: the
laboratory human engineered effort to transfer genes from one type
to another. That's why we prefer the usage of 'GE' over 'GMO.' GE is
more accurate and honest.
Wood Prairie Farm Quick
& Megan Gerritsen
Certified Organic, Direct from the Farm