Bridgewater, ME - November 11, 2013 - Jim Gerritsen , co-owner of the organic seed farm and business Wood Prairie Farm in Aroostook County will speak this Wednesday, November 13, at the University of Maine at Machias, in a session exploring the topics of genetically-engineered crops and food. Gerritsen will speak as part of a panel, the second such panel on Food issues in the Food and Community Series jointly sponsored by UMaine Machias, UMaine Extension and the Libra Foundation. The session will be held from 6:00 - 7:30p.m. at Kimball Hall.
Besides being a farmer, Gerritsen serves as President of the national trade organization Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association. OSGATA is lead plaintiff in OSGATA et al v. Monsanto, the landmark federal lawsuit which challenges Monsanto's genetically engineered seed patents and seeks preemptive Court protection for organic family farmers from legal jeopardy should they become contaminated by Monsanto patented seed and then perversely be accused of patent infringement. After receiving a partial victory from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington D.C. in June, the farmers in September filed papers with the U.S. Supreme Court asking for review of the case in their quest for justice and full legal protection.
Gerritsen will also speak about the historic passage of LD 718, Maine' pioneering GMO Food Label bill which was approved by massive margins in the Legislature last July. Gerritsen, a member of MOFGA (Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association) for almost 40 years, was a leader in MOFGA's successful bi-partisan effort to assure Maine consumers of their right-to-know about genetically-engineered food via label transparency. LD 718 passed the House on a vote of 141-4 and the Senate 35-0. Governor Paul LePage has issued a written promise to the Legislature that he will sign LD 718 into law when the Legislature reconvenes in January 2014.
Other panelists in this UMaine Machias discussion will be John Jemison, water quality and soil specialist with University of Maine Cooperative Extension; Eric Jones, assistant professor of plant biology at UMM; and Andrei Alyokhin, professor and graduate coordinator with UMaine's School of Biology and Ecology. Following opening presentations, audience members will have an opportunity to ask questions. The event, which is open to the public, will be streamed live over the Internet and archived for future viewing at www.machias.edu/umm-live.
Complete background on the OSGATA et al v. Monsanto lawsuit is available here.