Archive for the tag “Family Farmers”

Farmers vs Monsanto Rally at Foley Square: Re-Cap

We were so proud to stand with Food Democracy Now and Occupy Wall Street Food Justice to support the farmers in their first preliminary hearing against Monsanto this past Tuesday down at Foley Square in Manhattan. The setting was beautiful, the weather strangely warm and the fervor of support was buzzing! We estimate that around 200 people were there to greet the farmers when they came out of the courthouse after their hearing. We collaborated to create an amazing timeline of the atrocities that Monsanto has committed over the years, from 1901-2011 and had comrades hold them in a visual sign of solidarity. This was a great opportunity for people to see what Monsanto has been up to the last century, from helping to create and push Agent Orange to patenting life.

What’s next for the farmers? Well, the hearing went relatively well, but we are told that Monsanto’s lawyers really played up their corporate victimhood and made themselves seem as if they were being attacked. The judge has until March 31st to make a decision on whether or not this case will go forward. We can only hope that the obvious and just decision will be made: It is time for the organic farmers to be able to farm without the fear of Monsanto’s heavy-hand hovering over them.

On a final note, we want to remind everyone that the best way to avoid GMO (genetically modified organisms) foods is to eat organic, and if that is not possible, the next best thing is to focus on eating less processed, packaged foods and more whole foods.

We will of course keep you posted on what is happening next with the Monsanto case. And stay tuned as we begin to plan the National Day of Food Action that will take place on February 27th, 2012 across the country. We have some great things in the works.

In Solidarity,
Erika and Kristin

Occupy Big Food
 

A Citizen’s Assembly in Support of Family Farmers vs. Monsanto Jan. 31, 2012, NYC

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 order 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. We’re not asking Monsanto for one penny. We just want justice for our farmers and we want court protection from Monsanto.”
– Jim Gerritsen, OSGATA President and Wood Prairie Farm, ME
 “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. 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.”
-Bryce Stephens, Stephen’s Land and Cattle Co.- Jennnings, KS

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 on January 31, 2012.

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.
 
Click here to RSVP to attend the Citizen’s Assembly.
 

From OSGATA: The Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association is a not-for-profit agricultural organization made up of organic farmers, seed growers, seed businesses and supporters. OSGATA is committed to developing and protecting organic seed and it’s growers in order to ensure the organic community has access to excellent quality organic seed free of contaminants and adapted to the diverse needs of local organic agriculture. www.osgata.org

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