|Maine Farmer and OSGATA Pres. Jim Gerritsen at gathering|
Photo Courtesy OSGATA and Food Democracy Now
Traveling cross-country seemed worth the effort for small farmers and seed growers who gathered in Washington, DC yesterday to have their voices heard. While lawyers dug into the details before a federal appeals court, several plaintiffs in Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, et al versus Monsanto sat and listened. Supporters held vigil outside, also rallying in a public square.
"We are pleased to report that there was excellent turnout at the rally yesterday at Lafayette Square," noted plaintiff Sow True Seed in its newsletter to customers, "It was truly inspiring to see such a diverse group of farmers, seed activists and concerned citizens unite behind this important cause."
The appeals court has the power to decide whether the farmers will have their case heard. They assert that the current system unfairly lets Monsanto patent genetically engineered seeds that can contaminate other farmers, while the company could potentially sue those farmers for having Monsanto seed. Last year a lower court dismissed the case. In part of the statement issued from Monsanto, the agricultural company commented, "The district court ruling last year dismissing this case noted it was simply a transparent effort by Plaintiffs to create a controversy where none exists and further there was neither a history of behavior nor a reasonable likelihood that Monsanto would pursue patent infringement matters against the Plaintiffs."
One of dozens of plaintiffs who believes this case involves the future of farming and the wholesomeness of America's food, Don Patterson commented after hearing yesterday's oral arguments. He wasn't able to attend, but he listened later from his home. Patterson said the possibility of the case being heard seems more encouraging than it did after last year's court proceedings. "I feel much better about the process before this court. These judges were highly informed on the issues and questioned diligently both attorneys."
Maine family farmer Jim Gerritsen restated, "Family farmers need and deserve the right to farm. We have a right to grow good food and good seed for our families and communities without the threat of trespass and intimidation."
You can listen to the entire oral argument in court January 10 at this public link.
You can learn more about the broader health and safety concerns surrounding GMO foods at the Genetic Roulette website.
Disclosure: while Sow True Seed provided the seed for our family's organic garden in 2012, we do not have a relationship with them in 2013.