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Press Release 01/16/2012

PRESS RELEASE 
January 16, 2012
For Immediate Release
Contact:
Jim Gerritsen
(207) 429-9765
press@woodprairie.com
Wood Prairie Farm
Bridgewater, Maine
A Citizen’s Assembly in Support for Family Farmers vs. Monsanto

– Citizens Urged to Sign Petition of Support for Family Farmers
– Supporters Urged to Attend & RSVP Citizens Assembly on January 31st

     New York, New York – January, 16 2012 – We wish to assemble free and peaceful citizens outside the Manhattan District court in an effort to present the important message to family farmers that millions of Americans stand behind them as they seek their day in court. In the past two decades, Monsanto’s seed monopoly has grown so powerful that they control the genetics of nearly 90% of five major commodity crops including corn, soybeans, cotton, canola and sugar beets. This has resulted in onerous costs to farmers through high technology patent fees for seeds as well as burdensome litigation costs in defending themselves against lawsuits asserted by Monsanto.
     In many cases organic and conventional farmers are forced to stop growing certain crops in order to avoid genetic contamination and potential lawsuits. Between 1997 and April 2010, Monsanto filed 144 lawsuits against American farmers in at least 27 different states, for alleged infringement of its transgenic seed patents and/or breach of its license to those patents, while settling another 700 out of court for undisclosed amounts. As a result of these aggressive lawsuits, Monsanto has created an atmosphere of fear in rural America and driven dozens of farmers into bankruptcy.
     The lawsuit OSGATA (Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association) et al vs. Monsanto was filed on behalf of 300,000 organic and non-GMO farmers and citizens to seek judicial relief in “protect[ing] themselves from ever being accused of infringing patents on transgenic (GMO) seed”. The judge has requested and agreed to hear oral argument in orders to make a decision of whether or not to allow the farmers’ case to move forward in the courts after Monsanto filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
    

     “We are family farmers and we are headed to court in New York City on January 31 to let the judge know that our survival as farmers depends on this lawsuit,” said Maine organic seed farmer Jim Gerritsen.  Gerritsen is also President of Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, lead plaintiff in Monsanto et al v. Monsanto.  “We’re not asking Monsanto for one penny. We just want justice for our farmers and we want court protection from Monsanto.” 


     We are encouraging supporters of farmers’ rights to grow food without fear and intimidation to assemble outside the courtroom in a peaceful manner to support the farmers in their claims, recognizing that these injustices affect us all and that this case is deserving of the court’s time and attention.
     “I don’t think it’s fair that Monsanto should be able to sue my family for patent infringement because their transgenic seed trespasses onto our farm and contaminates and ruins our organic crop,” said organic farmer Bryce Stephens of Jennings, Kansas, and vice-President of OSGATA. “We have had to abandon raising corn because we are afraid Monsanto wouldn’t control their genetic pollution and then they would come after us for patent infringment.  It’s not right.”

      Due to limited space, only a small number of individuals will be able to enter the courtroom and listen to the proceedings. We respectfully ask that farmers and plaintiffs in the case be given priority to hear this case in person as each plaintiff has traveled many miles and put a great deal on the line to be a part of this case.

In the spirit of peaceful assembly and respect for the courts, we request that you adhere to the following principles:

Principles for Citizens’ Assembly
1.     Assemble outside the court in a show of support for family farmers and their right to grow food without the threat of intimidation, harassment or loss of income.
2.     Assemble peacefully to present a positive message that America’s citizens stand behind family farmers and support their rights of legal protection under the Constitution.
3.     Bring signs that portray messages of:
a.     Hope
b.     The positive impacts of sustainable and organic agriculture
c.     Solutions to our current crisis in food, agriculture and society
d.     Support for farmers who seek justice in the courts
4.     Be respectful of court security requests and follow them faithfully.
5.     Maintain a respectful distance from the court entry on Pearl Street, making sure not to block access for foot traffic or vehicles.
6.     Maintain a tone of respect for the court and the sanctity of our legal process as the judge hears the merits of this important case.
7.     Cell phones, cameras and tape recorders are prohibited inside the courthouse. Those who enter the courthouse must conform to court security protocols.
8.     No signs, t-shirts with slogans or other disruptions, visual or otherwise, are appropriate or allowed in the courtroom.
9.     No chanting or loud noises allowed outside the courthouse as all must maintain their conduct in ways that are respectful to the judicial process and in accordance with the seriousness of the case.
10.  Please follow the instructions of designated assembly captains who will continue to update you as the events of the day unfold.
As advocates for farmers and supporters of a citizen-based democracy we greatly appreciate your support for family farmers and your agreement to act in accordance with these principles in order to guarantee farmers’ rights to grow food without fear and intimidation.

Location to Hear Plaintiffs and Attorney Comment After Hearing
Once oral arguments are heard in the court, farmers, plaintiffs and lead attorney Dan Ravicher of the Public Patent Foundation will be available for comments to supporters and the media, at the Southwest Corner on 500 Pearl Street, at Pearl Street and Cardinal Hayes Place.
For those planning on assembling at 9 am, Pearl Street has been recommended to gather respectfully and overflow can gather at Foley Square.
If link does not work, Google: 45 Cardinal Hayes Place, New York, NY for location of assembly, which is the intersection of Pearl Street and Cardinal Hayes Place.

Action! Click here to RSVP to attend the Citizen’s Assembly.
Action! Click Here to Sign Our Petition Supporting Farmers

About Maine’s Wood Prairie Farm (www.woodprairie.com; 800-829-9765)
Wood Prairie Farm is located in Aroostook County, the largest county east of the Mississippi River and Maine’s historic center of potato farming.  For over 35 years, Jim Gerritsen, his wife Megan and their family have used organic farming techniques on the fertile land of Wood Prairie Farm to grow the finest potatoes, seed, vegetables and grain nature will produce.  Wood Prairie Farm is MOFGA Certified Organic, and its seed potatoes, kitchen potatoes, seeds and other products are available direct to the customer by mail order from its website and catalog.  Wood Prairie Farm is on Facebook at
www.facebook.com/woodprairiefarm. 

Additional information about OSGATA et al v. Monsanto is available at www.woodprairie.com/wpf_news. 

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WICN.org. “Daniel Ravicher (ALL-NEW).” Excellent Radio Interview with our OSGATA v. Monsanto Lawyer

Excellent and informative public radio interview (29:00) with lead lawyer Daniel Ravicher about our OSGATA v. Monsanto, the organic community lawsuit challenging Monsanto’s transgenic/GMO patents. Dan is also the Executive Director of the Public Patent Foundation and a lecturer in law at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. Invest a half hour and you will gain a good understanding about the issues involved and the strength of our case. Jim & Megan

WICN.org. “Daniel Ravicher (ALL-NEW).” Excellent Radio Interview with our OSGATA v. Monsanto Lawyer

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The Atlantic. “The Very Real Danger of Genetically Modified Foods” Explosive New Research on microRNA

Explosive must-read Atlantic article on new research which “provides the first example of ingested plant microRNA surviving digestion and influencing human cell function…The Chinese RNA study threatens to blast a major hole in Monsanto’s claim. It means that DNA can code for microRNA, which can, in fact, be hazardous…Monsanto’s claim that human toxicology tests are unwarranted is based on the doctrine of ‘substantial equivalence’…substantial equivalence ‘a pseudo-scientific concept’ that is ‘inherently anti-scientific because it was created primarily to provide an excuse for not requiring biochemical or toxicological tests.'”

The Atlantic. “The Very Real Danger of Genetically Modified Foods” Explosive New Research on microRNA

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MSU. “Seed Industry Structure: Cross-Licensing Agreements for Genetically Engineered Traits” Great Dr. Phil Howard Chart.

Last Friday we shared news of the guilty verdict in the People’s Tribunal in India against the “Big 6” – the six largest pesticide and biotechnology corporations. These same six corporations are the subject of another great visual chart: “Cross Licensing Agreements for Genetically Engineered Traits,’ put together by Dr Phil Howard of MSU. The relationships depicted are clearly more cozy than competitive. Jim & Megan

 

MSU. “Seed Industry Structure: Cross-Licensing Agreements for Genetically Engineered Traits” Great Dr. Phil Howard Chart.

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Center For Food Safety. ” “Big 6″ Guilty of Human Rights Violations.” Ruling in India at Peoples Tribunal.


“The verdict was handed down to the six largest pesticide corporations – Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, BASF, Dow and Dupont – collectively known as the ‘Big 6,’ for their human rights violations, including internationally recognized rights to life, livelihood and health.” It is only in an upside down corporate-controlled world that it is the honest food activists that are targeted as ‘terrorists’ by the FBI. Jim.

Center For Food Safety. ” “Big 6″ Guilty of Human Rights Violations”. Ruling in India at Peoples Tribunal.

 

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Alternet. “The Real History of ‘Corporate Personhood’: Meet the Man to Blame for Corporations Having More Rights Than You”. Brief and Valuable.

If we’re to rid ourselves of the injustice foisted upon us by the granting of citizen rights to corporations we need to learn the history behind it. This brief but good article will whet your appetite. “The roots of Citizen United lie in Powell’s 1971 strategy to use ‘activist’ Supreme court judges to create corporate rights.” Jim

Alternet. “The Real History of ‘Corporate Personhood’: Meet the Man to Blame for Corporations Having More Rights Than You”. Brief and Valuable.

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Open Up and Say “Ahh”

“In the brave new world of 21st century America, terrorism has evolved to mean anything that threatens the status quo or challenges the standings or profits of the corporate entities that have reduced our government agencies to the status of pawns.” Has Big Ag taken well to our critiquing of their role in our food system? Not exactly. This tale of corporate-government collusion would be rich satire were it not documented to be factual. Our best defense is to expose this corruption. Jim

 

 

 

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Oral Argument Scheduled in OSGATA v. Monsanto

Oral Argument Scheduled in OSGATA v. Monsanto

NEW YORK – December 29, 2011 –In a development heralded by the organic plaintiffs, Judge Naomi Buchwald announced yesterday that oral argument on Monsanto’s motion to dismiss in OSTATA et al v. Monsanto will be heard Tuesday January 31, 2012 at 10am in federal district court in Manhattan.

The eighty-three family farmers, small and family owned seed businesses, and agricultural organizations which comprise the organic plaintiff group represent over 300,000 individuals. The landmark organic community lawsuit, filed in March 2011, challenges the validity of Monsanto’s transgenic/GMO patents and seeks court protection for innocent family farmers who may become contaminated by Monsanto seed.

“We are grateful that Judge Buchwald has agreed to our request to hear oral argument on the motion,” said Jim Gerritsen, President of lead plaintiff Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association based in Montrose, Colorado. “Last August we submitted our written rebuttal and it made clear that Monsanto’s motion was without merit. Our legal team, from the Public Patent Foundation, is looking forward to orally presenting our position. The family farmers deserve their day in court. We are anxious that this case go to trial as soon as possible so that our innocent farmers may receive Court protection.”

Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association is the organic seed industry membership trade organization established to develop and protect the organic seed industry and its mission to provide excellent organic seed for the needs of local organic agriculture. Paypal donations to OSGATA’s “Farmer Travel Fund” (www.osgata.org) are encouraged in an effort to raise funds to enable family farmers in the plaintiff group to attend the court proceedings and related events.

Background information on the OSGATA v. Monsanto lawsuit may be found at www.osgata.org and www.woodprairiefarm.com.

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