Posts Tagged ‘PUBPAT’

NPR Discovers Kale

Beedy's Camden KaleI was standing in my kitchen the other day.   Doing dishes, listening to NPR and basking in the glow of knowing that the Supreme Court may consider the OSGATA VS. Monsanto seed patent suit.    Pubpat has asked the high court to hear the case.

Anyhow, it was a beautiful fallish morning in Maine and I was happy.   But that is not what made me almost fall on the floor laughing.    Soon after the good news on the OSGATA lawsuit on All Things Considered the host spent over eight minutes on what you might be lead to believe was a newly discovered vegetable: KALE.   It made my day.   That is a lot of national radio real estate to give over to this humble plant.   I was very impressed.


Personally I love kale and have for years.   I braise it with some garlic and onions from my garden and a little local sunflower oil.  I grow a great variety called Beedy’s Camden Kale developed by a woman I know, Beedy Parker, specifically for growing in our local climate.  It is well adapted to my growing season and soil.   Truly local food.  The seeds are sold by a local worker’s co-operative, Fedco, and guaranteed no GMOs!  The two stories were a great synergy for improving my general outlook on life as we slog along trying to keep it legal to grow our own, save our own seeds and breed plants that grow well where we live.


And the NPR audience got introduced to kale.   All in all a good day!




Good News, Good News, Good News, and then Bad News

GW and his daughter testifying at the Agriculture Committee.

GW and his daughter testifying at the Agriculture Committee.

Hurrah, several local food sovereignty bills have been voted out of the Agriculture committee of the Maine Legislature as “ought to pass.”  Here are some excerpts from the Bangor Daily News article about the work sessions:


“The Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Conservation voted that two key bills — LD 1282 and LD 1287 — ought to pass when they are taken up by the full Legislature.

The committee also voted “ought to pass” on several bills aimed at Maine’s poultry industry. LD 218 exempts farmers who grow and slaughter fewer than 1,000 birds annually from state inspection and licensure, as long as they sell the poultry from the farm or deliver to the consumer’s home. LD 259 would allow the owners of slaughterhouses to rent their facilities to other farmers. LD 836 establishes a legal mechanism for the operation of mobile poultry slaughtering facilities.”


Anti GMO rally at the State House.

Anti GMO rally at the State House.

The GMO bill is in work session today.  LD 718.  With the way the Ag committee has voted lately I am very hopeful that this bill will also get a favorable vote.

The bad news is a that the Supreme Court came out with its decision yesterday against the farmer being sued by Monsanto for planting seeds he bought, not from them but, from a local grain elevator.    Okay, okay it was not the best case to take all the way to the high court so we will have to try again.   The OSGATA/Pubpat suit is a good solid suit that we can hope will succeed when it finally makes it way to the top of the judicial pile.


“Although Monsanto and other agrochemical companies assert that they need the current patent system to invent better seeds, the counterargument is that splicing an already existing gene or other DNA into a plant and thereby transferring a new trait to that plant is not a novel invention. A soybean, for example, has more than 46,000 genes. Properties of these genes are the product of centuries of plant breeding and should not, many argue, become the product of a corporation. Instead, these genes should remain in the public domain.”

Here are some other links I’ve been compiling for a while:

SCOTUS and Farmers and Seeds, Oh My!

So, in November, a lame-duck congress will (maybe) finally act on the Farm Bill 2012.   If the current state of affairs (no Farm Bill because the old one expired September 30th) continues into the new year, the law will revert to a law written in 1949.  Something that even Grumpy Old Plutocrats should be able to see as a bad thing.  Hello, farming has changed just a bit since then.  But maybe it’s not such a bad thing.  That is pre-Green Revolution and might actually address farming the way it should be.  I’ll do more research and get back to you on that.

Russell Libby, of MOFGA, did a good job of summing up what is holding up passage of the bill in a Press Herald article (I mean what is holding it up besides the do-nothing obstructionist Congress):

“Fifty years ago, the U.S. population was divided more evenly between rural and urban areas. To get urban politicians on board with the farm bill, the food assistance program was added, Libby said.

‘There was a de facto agreement that the urban interests would support the farmers as long as the farmers’ rural interests would support providing better food to low-income people in the cities,’ he said.

In the 1960s, however, food assistance came in the form of food, not stamps.

‘It was surplus commodities,” Libby said. ‘Back then, in the pre-food stamp era, it was extra chicken, peanut butter and things like that — in big, 5-pound cans — that would go to poor people. So that was an easy one for the rural folks to buy, because their extra stuff was going directly where it was needed.

‘But this year, the agreement is falling apart because there’s such a strong voice in the House to cut the food assistance program that it’s preventing the rest of the farm bill from moving forward. You have the fiscally conservative voices in the House who, in a sense, are voting against their constituents — the rural interests — in the interest of the budget.’

Libby predicted this farm bill might be the last that combines agriculture and food stamps, but dividing them could have consequences. Urban areas are now home to two-thirds of the U.S. population.”

But the other news of the day is somewhat better.  The Supreme Court is set to hear a case involving a farmer who did some traditional seed saving.  Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on you point of view, the parent seeds were GMO “round up ready” seeds.   Monsanto, who swears they never harass small farmers with lawsuits, is suing him for patent infringement.  There is, evidently, some good case-law to support the farmer’s right to save seed.  We can only hope that the conservative majority of SCOTUS will not prove themselves, yet again, to be the wholly owned subsidiary of yet another corporation.  The OSGATA lawsuit against Monsanto still languishes.

And finally, Dr. Vandana Shiva and her organization have just released their global report on Seed Freedom.  OSGATA’s own Holli Cederholm contributed.  Way to go Holli!!!

OSGATA vs. The Evil Empire

Hurrah!  OSGATA and PUBPAT have filed their appeal of Judge Naomi Buchwald’s February decision.   She erroneously  dismissed our lawsuit against Monsanto.  A lawsuit that attempts to halt this corporate bully’s egregious over-reach in suing random farmers for patent infringements.   Suits that they file in the supposed defense of  their bogus patents.   Here’s the beginning of the OSGATA press release:

“WASHINGTON, D.C. – July 5, 2012 – Seventy-five family farmers, seed businesses, and agricultural organizations representing over 300,000 individuals and 4,500 farms filed a brief  today with the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington asking the appellate court to reverse a lower court’s decision from February dismissing their protective legal action against agricultural giant Monsanto’s patents on genetically engineered seed.”

Read it all here.

I was going to write about varroa mites and deer ticks today but it is so much better to write about the real blood sucking parasites of this world, corporations like Monsanto.


Sugar Maple Telegraph Brings Great News

Holli in her garden.

If any of you are Jimmy Buffett fans you have heard about the “Coconut Telegraph“.  The connection, in any small community, that allows everyone to know everything about everybody in very short order.   When we were living in the islands we used to call it the “Papaya Telegraph”   (More papaya trees then coconuts but plenty of both.) I like to think that I am not a gossip.   I am just a good listener who gets to be privy to the local goings on.   When it is appropriate I am willing to pass along useful information.   As an example:  one of the most difficult to accomplish on the islands  was finding housing for people coming from off-island to work in Majuro.   I always seemed to know where there was an open rental or one about to become open.  One day an Australian volunteer friends came to me to ask if I knew of a place for some newbies arriving soon.  I replied that I would ask around saying  “I’m pretty well tapped into the telegraph.”   She laughed,  “You’re not just tapped into the telegraph, you ARE the telegraph.

Fast forward 20+ years and here I am home in Maine serving the same function. (I’m thinking about calling this one the “Sugar Maple Telegraph”, what do you think?)  People tell me things.  I file them away in my memory and when a person comes along who need that information I can supply it to them.  A recent example: one friend told me that she had a goat giving so much rich milk she couldn’t make cheese fast enough.   A few days later another friend told me about her preemie goat twins.  Because of birth complications the mother had rejected them, so they were being bottle fed.  And the connection was made.

This is one of the many reasons I like my job at the Co-op.  I see folks all the time and chat with them about this and that.  Ultimately information gets passed along to me that I can then pass along to someone else.  Through this blog or by other means.  Well I have a piece of news that I was told and have sat on for almost a month now, per Holli’s request,  waiting for the press release.  Yesterday it finally came.  My friend Holli Cederholm has been named the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA)  general manager in charge of technical assistance, organizational development and communications. This is exciting on so many levels.  Holli is such a bright and hard-working person I know she is going to do a wonderful job for this very important organization.   And this organization is vital to protecting our access to organic seed.  They are at the forefront of the fight against Monsanto and I just know Holli is the right person to help lead this most important crusade.

The Evil Empire, Again

My Bees! Bless 'em!

So now that it’s sunny again I feel like I can stomach talking about the Evil Empire. (I know, I know, Red Sox fans, I know!  The Evil Empire is the Yankees and DAMN them for winning the 100th Anniversary game at our bandbox of a ballpark, Fenway, but in agriculture the EE is Monsanto.)  The EE has been up to it’s nefarious best lately.  They bought the leading bee research firm to have control over the narrative.  Now Monsanto will be telling us what is killing the bees. And you can bet you Red Sox hat it will turn out NOT to be the insecticides in the GMO corn.    Read the article.

But on a slightly happier note OSGATA et al have filed the appeal to Judge Buchwald’s abrupt, unfounded dismissal of our case.

NEW YORK – March 28, 2012 – Today, in Federal District Court in Manhattan, family farmers filed their Notice of Appeal to Judge Naomi Buchwald’s February 24th ruling dismissing Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association et al v. Monsanto.  The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit will hear the farmers’ appeal, seeking to reinstate the case, which has received worldwide attention. The farmers are determined to move forward with their lawsuit challenging Monsanto’s patents on genetically engineered seed technologies to continue their pursuit of Declaratory Judgment Act court protection from Monsanto’s claims of patent infringement should their crops become contaminated by Monsanto’s seed.

So the struggle continues.  Now with one scientifically objective voice gone.  The USDA may believe the findings of Beeologic but from now on we cannot.  “Dedicated to restoring bee health” my great Aunt Fanny!!!!

Judge Buchwald Got It Wrong!

Contact:  Jim Gerritsen  Wood Prairie Farm
Bridgewater, Maine

Judge Sides With Monsanto: Ridicules Farmers’ Right to Grow Food

Without Fear, Contamination and Economic Harm

New York, New York – On February 24, Judge Naomi Buchwald handed down her ruling on a motion to dismiss in the case of Organic Seed Growers and Trade Assn et al v. Monsanto after hearing oral argument on January 31st in Federal District Court in Manhattan.  Her ruling to dismiss the case brought against Monsanto on behalf of organic farmers, seed growers and agricultural organizations representing farmers and citizens was met with great disappointment by the plaintiffs.

Plaintiff lead attorney Daniel Ravicher said, “While I have great respect for Judge Buchwald, her decision to deny farmers the right to seek legal protection from one of the world’s foremost patent bullies is gravely disappointing.  Her belief that farmers are acting unreasonable when they stop growing certain crops to avoid being sued by Monsanto for patent infringement should their crops become contaminated maligns the intelligence and integrity of those farmers.  Her failure to address the purpose of the Declaratory Judgment Act and her characterization of binding Supreme Court precedent that supports the farmers’ standing as ‘wholly inapposite’ constitute legal error.  In sum, her opinion is flawed on both the facts and the law.  Thankfully, the plaintiffs have the right to appeal to the Court of Appeals, which will review the matter without deference to her findings.”

Monsanto’s history of aggressive investigations and lawsuits brought against farmers in America have been a source of concern for organic and non-GMO farmers since Monsanto’s first lawsuit brought against a farmer in the mid-90’s.  Since then, 144 farmers have had lawsuits brought against them by Monsanto for alleged violations of  their patented seed technology.  Monsanto has brought charges against more than 700 additional farmers who have settled out-of-court rather than face Monsanto’s belligerent litigious actions.  Many of these farmers claim to not have had the intention to grow or save seeds that contain Monsanto’s patented genes. Seed drift and pollen drift from genetically engineered crops often contaminate neighboring fields. If Monsanto’s seed technology is found on a farmer’s land without contract they can be found liable for patent infringement.

“Family farmers need the protection of the court,” said Maine organic seed farmer Jim Gerritsen, President of lead plaintiff OSGATA.  “We reject as naïve and undefendable the judge’s assertion that Monsanto’s vague public relations ‘commitment’ should be ‘a source of comfort’ to plaintiffs. The truth is we are under threat and we do not believe Monsanto.  The truth is that American farmers and the American people do not believe Monsanto. Family farmers deserve our day in court and this flawed ruling will not deter us from continuing to seek justice.”  

 The plaintiffs brought this suit against Monsanto to seek judicial protection from such lawsuits and challenge the validity of Monsanto’s patents on seeds.

“As a citizen and property owner, I find the Order by the Federal Court to be obsequious to Monsanto,” said plaintiff organic farmer Bryce Stephens of Kansas.  “The careless, inattentive, thoughtless and negligent advertisement Monsanto has published on their website to not exercise its patent rights for inadvertent trace contamination belies the fact that their policy is in reality a presumptuous admission of contamination by their vaunted product on my property, plants, seeds and animals.”

“Seeds are the memory of life,” said Isaura Anduluz of plaintiff Cuatro Puertas and the Arid Crop Seed Cache in New Mexico.  “If planted and saved annually, cross pollination ensures the seeds continue to adapt. In the Southwest, selection over many, many generations has resulted in native drought tolerant corn.  Now that a patented drought tolerant corn has been released how do we protect our seeds from contamination and our right to farm?”