Eating Local & Organic » Monsanto It's time to take back our food, medicine and farms! Thu, 08 Aug 2013 18:59:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 American Farmers Get Critical New Protection Against Monsanto Thu, 08 Aug 2013 14:57:28 +0000 Laura In a landmark court decision American farmers now have the right to sue Monsanto in cases of Genetically Engineered (GE) contamination of their crops without the fear of a countersuit by Monsanto for patent infringement. This historic protection came after a two year battle when OSGATA (Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association) filed their 2011 lawsuit against Monsanto, known as OSGATA et al v Monsanto.

The lead plaintiff in the case, Jim Gerritsen of Wood Prairie Farm in Maine, provides some background on their Monsanto lawsuit.

The following is a letter to the Justice Begins with Seeds Conference, written by Jim Gerritsen, explaining how the decision was made by the court and what it means for American farmers.

Dear friends of the Justice Begins with Seeds Conference,

The demands of our farming in Maine prevent me from being with you today. We do join you in the belief that justice is necessary for lasting change, most especially as it relates to seed.

We make our living growing organic seed. We have been farming organically on our Wood Prairie Farm in Maine for 37 years. We live and follow the belief that everyone in the organic community has an obligation to help grow and protect our community.

I would like to update you on two important recent developments which I am involved with.

I serve as President of the national membership organization, OSGATA – the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association. We are lead Plaintiff in OSGATA et al v. Monsanto, a landmark federal lawsuit filed in March 2011 which challenges the validity of Monsanto’s transgenic seed patents and seeks Court protection for family farmers who through no fault of their own may become contaminated by Monsanto’s patented seed technology and then – perversely – be accused of patent infringement. Monsanto has sought to deny our access to the Court by asserting legal arguments that we lack standing. We have not yet been given the opportunity to present our lawsuit’s legal arguments. We feel we have a strong case.

In June, the US Court of Appeals in Washington DC, issued a complicated ruling on our Appeal of Dismissal. The three-judge Appeals Court upheld dismissal of OSGATA v Monsanto. However, the ruling provided a significant partial victory for us, when the Court ordered Monsanto, through estoppal, to NOT sue farmers for patent infringement should they encounter trace GE contamination. The estoppel protects EVERY farmer in the United States – not just those in our Plaintiff group.

So American farmers for the first time in history have gained a new critical legal protection. As a result, farmers now may choose to sue Monsanto to recover damages in a contamination incident without the fear of being inflicted with a counter suit asserting patent infringement.

The second update I want to provide is about Right-to-Know GMO labeling in New England. California Prop 37 laid an important foundation which New England has built upon. Connecticut passed the nation’s first Right-to-Know GMO Label law in June.  Maine followed in short order. We expect Vermont to pass their GMO label law next January and after that, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

In Maine, we built a successful coalition of Tea Party Republicans and Democrats to pass our GMO label bill. A statewide poll showed 91% of Mainers favored passing a GMO label law. Out of our legislative body of 186 members, we had 123 co-sponsors to our bill.  Maine’s effective grassroots campaign resulted in significant tallies. In the end the Maine House voted for passage 141-4 and the Maine Senate 35-0. Our Tea Party Governor Paul LePage has promised he will sign the bill into law when the Legislature reconvenes in January.

When it comes to fighting GE crops there is work ahead of us.  But we have momentum on our side and that fact will help you pass Washington’s I-522 initiative.

Jim Gerritsen
Wood Prairie Farm, Bridgewater, Maine

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Without Labels All We Get is “Answers” Wed, 31 Jul 2013 21:27:40 +0000 Laura This is a spoof on the website created by the biotech companies, GMOAnswers, to generate discussion of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO).

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Today’s Modern Food: It’s Not What You Think Wed, 31 Jul 2013 20:20:35 +0000 Laura This two-part series by Nomad Man Productions examines the state of the modern food supply in the United States.

The food we buy today is the product of a business who’s more concerned about their own profits than their customers health and the government regulators are looking out for the interests of the businesses rather than the American people’s well being.

It provides a fascinating, yet frightening, look at how a multitude of harmful ingredients have ended up in the food we eat.

Part two delves into the topics of corn-fed beef, an unnatural feed choice for animals meant to graze on grass, and the synthetic cancer-causing hormones injected into cattle. And rounding out the discussion are the dangers of food packaging with chemicals that disrupt hormonal systems, causing cancer, brain disorders and other issues.

]]> 0 GMO A Go Go Wed, 31 Jul 2013 14:24:49 +0000 Laura Learn about the dangers of GMOs in animated fashion in this video from InfoMatic Films, sponsored by Natural News.

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High-Fructose Corn Sizzurp: By Monsanto Wed, 17 Jul 2013 17:21:19 +0000 Laura Dad’s Garage TV brings us this video on Monsanto and their product High-Fructose Corn Sizzurp:

There’s a new sweetener in town and it’ll get you straight faded.

]]> 0 Former Biotech Engineer Speaks About Dangers of GMO Wed, 17 Jul 2013 16:38:25 +0000 Laura Thierry Vrain, a former advocate of chemical-based agriculture and genetic engineering, has evolved into a supporter of organic farming and anti-GMO proponent. When asked what led to the change from pro-GMO to anti-GMO, Vrain explained:

thierry vrain

Photo: Thierry Vrain/Facebook.

Research scientists from the US Food & Drug Administration made it clear in the early 1990s that there could be indirect effects from eating GM crops, such as toxins, allergens, and nutritional deficiencies. Those warnings were ignored. Now a good number of publications are confirming the predictions of the FDA scientists.

Unintended Consequences of Genetic Engineering

In an interview for The Organic & NON-GMO Report, writer Ken Roseboro asks Vrain to elaborate on his statement that the science behind genetic engineering is based on a misunderstanding.

When we started with genetic engineering in the 1980s, the science was based on the theory that one gene produces one protein. But we now know, since the human genome project, that a gene can create more than one protein. The insertion of genes in the genome through genetic engineering interrupts the coding sequence of the DNA, creating truncated, rogue proteins, which can cause unintended effects. It’s an invasive technology.

Biotech companies ignore these rogue proteins; they say they are background noise. But we should pay attention to them. It must be verified that they produce no negative effects.

A key point is that the concern about genetic engineering should be about the proteins. Many plants and animals are not edible because their proteins are toxic or poisonous. To test for the safety of Bt crops, scientists have mostly fed the pure protein to rats, and there may be no problem. But it’s different if you feed rats the whole GM plant because they are getting these rogue proteins that could cause harm.

How do you explain published papers describing how rats and mice suffer organ damage from eating GM corn or soy? It’s too easy to dismiss those as pseudoscience. Rats and mice are the canary in the mine, and we should be paying attention to what happens to them.

Roseboro also asked him to talk about how he came to favor organic farming over conventional agriculture.

I used to be a soil biologist and focused on fertilizers and pesticides. When I retired I started to look around and, quite frankly, the organic side of soil biology made more sense than what I had taught.

Industrial agriculture relies on inputs that are good for the chemical industry. Unfortunately, we have evidence that inputs are degrading soil biodiversity. Industrial agriculture completely ignores the ecology of the soil.

When I was a soil biologist I would look at the biodiversity of the soil. I would see a big difference between industrial farms and organic farms, which had far more species of soil microfauna, microscopic “animals” and nematodes, what I call biodiversity.

Read more of this fascinating article here.

The biggest take-away for us from Vrain’s comments is that if you feel like you can’t trust these large, profit-driven corporations when they tell you something is safe, you’d be right. The idea that something that’s not well understood nor properly studied (rogue proteins) is inconsequential is not something I want to leave up to them to decide. Especially when it’s meant for our grocery store shelves.

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Why Are Those Awesome Peterson Bros on Monsanto’s Blog? Fri, 21 Jun 2013 17:03:25 +0000 Laura I have to admit that I love the Peterson Farm Bros. parody videos. They really make working on the farm look fun and, frankly, cool. When I saw their latest video “A Fresh Breath of Farm Air,” a parody of Will Smith’s “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” I thought this would be a great funny video to add to our collection. But then I started wondering what kind of farming do they do? Do they grow Genetically Modified crops?

The Peterson Farm is a 4-th generation family farm that primarily raises cattle, but also grows wheat, corn, alfalfa and sorghum. I tried asking them through their Facebook page if they grow GMO-free crops, but somehow my post got deleted. Too bad because I think it would have been an excellent opportunity for them to engage on that subject. Especially since they’ve captured so much attention from young people through their videos. Their “Farmer Style” video, a “Gangnam Style” parody, posted December, 2012, has over 13 million views to date.

So I did some digging and though I was still excited at being able to write an article featuring their latest stuff, to my disappointment I found them–on Monsanto’s blog. That pretty much answered my questions about their farming practices and whether or not their crops were GMO. What I found even more interesting was what Greg, one of the three brothers, said to the Monsanto article author, Janice Person, when she asked if he was interested in helping people understand farming, correcting misperceptions or something else?

I think our main goal is dispelling all of the misperceptions about agriculture and the way to do that is to educate the people about farming. There are lots of comments on YouTube that show people are still really misinformed. Subjects like animal confinement, GMOs, using chemicals, etc. People need to understand that farming isn’t perfect, but neither is anything else in this world. The reality is that we are just trying our best to feed the world and sometimes the media blows things out of proportion, making us look bad, and a lot of what they say is down-right false.

To that I ask: why not talk about those “misperceptions” on their Facebook page? Why not have some sort of educational info or link in their About section that addresses animal confinement, using chemicals and GMOs?

Frankly, I’m left with the impression that they don’t really want to talk about those things–they don’t really want to educate people about farming. They just want to have fun, show their love for farming and make people laugh in the process. And that’s not so bad.

Check out more of their videos here and let them know you want to have a real discussion on animal confinement, using chemicals and GMOs while you’re there.

For more information on what GMOs are read our awesome article here–it should clear up all your misperceptions!

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Dear Monsanto, It’s Me Not You Fri, 24 May 2013 21:35:40 +0000 Laura Dear Monsanto,

I just want to start by saying how much you’ve been in my life over the years but the truth is I’ve met a farmer. His name is Bob and I knew the moment I met him at the farmer’s market that his food was for me. For starters his food doesn’t make my gut ache. I know, I know. You told me my gut would get accustomed to that strange DNA in the GMOs you made, but I just couldn’t get used to it.

When I said I needed some time to think,  it hurt you, especially in your pocket, but you’ll get over it because you have a lot of money. From time to time my mind would drift to you and your GMOs, but I was having so much fun eating local and organic food, meeting other farmers and artisans, visiting local farm stores, and meeting people at the co-op. I thought you were having fun too fighting GMO labeling, keeping to your mantra of “profits first,” and suing farmers.

I’m only telling you this because I don’t want it to be such a shock when you see me at the March Against Monsanto tomorrow. I’m quite taken with this local and organic food movement, Monsanto, and I’ve never been happier! It is understandable of course if you can’t bear to see me there. I know this may be harsh, but I’m way too good for you.

march against monsanto

Image: March Against Monsanto/

I’m sure you still have someone who enjoys your GMO seeds, who likes their food sprayed with your Roundup herbicide–but I’m afraid we have to go our separate ways. I hope this hasn’t ruined your day.

It’s not you, it’s me. I need to be happy and healthy. And I like it the natural way.

Forever, Laura

Source: Adapted from an anonymous Dear John letter on

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New App Lets You Boycott Monsanto, Koch Brothers Products Wed, 15 May 2013 18:49:55 +0000 Julia This is the best new thing in the world today. Creator Ivan Pardo, a Los Angeles-based, 26-year old freelance programmer, spent the last 16 months working on Buycott. The app lets you choose the cause or campaign you care about, scan a product’s barcode and see the “company tree,” tracing its ownership back through its parent companies. The tree lets you see if the product conflicts with your campaign commitment.

buycott app shows you company tree

Buycott shows you the product’s “company tree” .

By joining the “Demand GMO Labeling” campaign you can avoid any product whose company donated more than $150,000 to oppose the GMO labeling in California. What’s really cool is that for a company to be removed from the list in the campaign, it must

publicly commit to supporting mandatory GMO labeling in food.

And after you’ve joined a campaign the app lets you share it with your friends. There are a number of cool campaigns on Buycott including:

  • Avoid Koch Industries
  • Local & Sustainable Food Iniative
  • Vegan & Cruelty Free
  • Support Prop 37 Donors

Buycott shows you the trending and top campaigns as well as the number of members in each campaign–so you can watch your causes grow!

We think this app is going to be the next big thing in the real food and non-GMO movements because it puts so much power into the hands of consumers. No longer do we have to wait until there’s some legislation telling companies to label GMOs. No longer do we have to depend on the FDA to make companies label ingredients honestly. We can choose to support companies that have the same values we do.

Be patient with Buycott because the app was just recently “bootstrapped” according to its creator and the site has been overwhelmed with interested users since the Forbes article came out about it yesterday. Contact Buycott and find out how you can help make their app more useful and successful for all of us who endeavor to put great food into our bodies–and to know where it comes from!

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Connection Between Monsanto and Bill Gates? Tue, 14 May 2013 20:27:06 +0000 Laura In a recent CBS’ “60 Minutes” interview Bill and Melinda Gates talk about their foundation and efforts to help feed the world and improve education around the world. But did you know that their foundation bought 500,000 shares of Monsanto stock in 2010?

Monsanto and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Bill and Melinda Gates are considered to be one of the world’s most generous philanthropists and their desire to feed the hungry and heal the sick is extremely worthy. But their foundation’s investment portfolio makes you wonder why they would choose to invest in, ally with and otherwise get in bed with Monsanto?

bill gates

Photo: World Economic Forum/Wikipedia. Bill Gates.

In his article Dr. Mercola talks about Gates’ plan to end world hunger by growing more genetically modified (GM) crops.

He’s already invested $27 million into Monsanto Company—leading some countries to reject his charity due to the high risks, such as:

  • New disease vectors
  • Mutated pesticide-resistant insects
  • Resistant “superweeds”
  • Contamination of surrounding non-GM crops

Seattle-based Agra Watch, a project for the Community Alliance for Global Justice, pointed out in a press release that this partnership between the Gates’ Foundation and Monsanto will allow both to profit at the expense of small farmers.

“The Foundation’s direct investment in Monsanto is problematic on two primary levels,” said Dr. Phil Bereano, University of Washington Professor Emeritus and recognized expert on genetic engineering. “First, Monsanto has a history of blatant disregard for the interests and well-being of small farmers around the world, as well as an appalling environmental track record. The strong connections to Monsanto cast serious doubt on the Foundation’s heavy funding of agricultural development in Africa and purported goal of alleviating poverty and hunger among small-scale farmers. Second, this investment represents an enormous conflict of interests.”

Read the full article here.

It’s disheartening to know that the Gates’ Foundation generosity is being directed toward Monsanto. They need to know that GM crops are not the way forward. The Sustainability Education Network had a petition on Care2 which was very well-written. It got just short of the 3,000 signatures they wanted. Tell them you want their petition re-opened here.

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