WHO ARE CHANGING THE WORLD BY UTNE READER
Long-time potato farmer selected for efforts to protect family farmers.
Bridgewater, Maine – Jim Gerritsen, a Maine organic potato farmer with a decades-long record of community involvement and activism, has been named by the editors of Utne Reader to the magazine's 2011 list of 25 “People Who Are Changing the World.”
Gerritsen was selected for his ongoing work leading efforts by independent family farmers to protect themselves from the threat of Monsanto litigation related to the corporation's patents on genetically modified seeds, an effort he sees as critical to the preservation of organic farming itself and organic foods as a choice for consumers and their families.
Each year, Utne Reader selects 25 people “who possess an inspiring combination of imagination, determination and energy,” said Utne Reader's editor-in-chief David Schimke in a statement. “These are people who don't just think out loud, but who walk their talk on a daily basis.”
Working with Other Family Farms for a Better Planet
Gerritsen, who grows
organic seed potatoes
on his family's Wood Prairie Farm in northern
OSGATA is joined in the lawsuit by 82 other family farmers, seed businesses and agricultural organizations. The plaintiff organizations have over 270,000 members, including several thousand certified organic family farmers.
This landmark organic community lawsuit asserts that Monsanto's patents on transgenic (gene-spliced) seed fail to meet the “social utility” requirement of patent law and are therefore invalid.
The suit also seeks court protection for innocent family farmers from Monsanto patent infringement lawsuits in the perverse situation where their farms are contaminated by Monsanto genes through unwanted genetic trespass, such as when wind-borne transgenic pollen is blown from one farm to another.
“Our lawyers asked Monsanto to provide a legal covenant not to sue our group of family farmers, and Monsanto refused. We thus are forced to seek justice and protection in court,” said Gerritsen.
The lawsuit is currently in pre-trial procedural motions.
A Longstanding Commitment to Community
For 35 years, Gerritsen
and his family have owned
and operated the organic Wood Prairie Farm in
The farm's modest scale allows Gerritsen and his family to focus on growing the highest quality seed potatoes for an ever-increasing number of committed catalog customers in all fifty states.
organic farming produces a
superior result and is better for the land. “
Gerritsen is a tireless
advocate for organic
farming and family farms, regularly speaking at conferences and
including the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA)
Ground Country Fair and Farmer-to-Farmer Conference, The Organic Seed
Conference, the Slow Food Terra Madre Conference in
About the Utne Reader Visionary List
In addition to Gerritsen, others on the 2011 list include David Simon, creator of HBO's The Wire and Treme; Azzam Alwash, Nature Iraq founder and marshland rehabilitator; Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), a congressman working to foster dialogue between Muslim and Christian interests; Gary Paul Nabhan, an author called “the father of the local food movement”; Debbie Sease, national campaign director of the Sierra Club; and Humira Saqeb, founder of a women's magazine in Afghanistan.
The Utne Reader's “People Who Are Changing the World” profile of Jim Gerritsen is available at www.utne.com/Environment/Utne-Reader-Visionaries-Jim-Gerritsen-Organic-Seed-Growers.aspx.
Wood Prairie Farm is
Additional information about OSGATA et al v. Monsanto is available at www.woodprairie.com/wpf_news.