13 December 2011

This week we’re once again exploring the corporate practices of Monsanto and the response of organic growers. We’ll talk with Jim Gerritsen, president of OSGATA, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, about the lawsuit he has spear-headed against Monsanto.

We’ll also talk with Chicoan Pamm Larry about the petition drive to have GMOs labeled as such here in California.

And we’ll have a brief follow-up on last week’s discussion of Electric Vehicles.

Listen to the Program

Our Questions for Jim Gerritsen

Jim Gerritsen ispresident of OSGATA–Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association. Unte Reader chose him as one of one of “25 Visonaries who are changing your world in 2011.” He was chosen as an “Organic Food Champion. Monsanto has a well-documented history of aggressively defending its genetically modified seeds. Organic farmer Jim Gerritsen is leading a lawsuit against the corporate agriculture giant on behalf of 270,000 family farmers, gardeners, and consumers who are suing to keep a portion of the world food supply free of genetic modification.” He’s here to talk about that lawsuit and about his vision for farmers becoming a significant participant in the Occupy movement.

1. First of all, can you tell us a little bit about the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association. What is its mission? What sorts of activities and issues is it involved in?

2. How did you become involved in OSGATA?

3. You are recently back from Farmers Occupy Wall Street on December 4. Tell us about that experience. Who was there? What were the conversations about? What were some of the highlights of the trip?

(from OSGATA press release: NEW YORK, December 4, 2011 — Today farmers from across the U.S. will participate in the Occupy Wall Street Farmers March to join in solidarity with efforts to expose corporate control of our food supply: The event begins at 2 p.m. at La Plaza Cultural Community Garden with remarks about the growing inequity in our food system from farmers and food workers followed by a 4 p.m. Farmers March to Zuccotti Park, where farmers, activists and ranchers, who have travelled from as far as Colorado, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Upstate New York, will march to ground zero of the growing Occupy Wall Street movement to curtail excessive corporate influence.)

4. Why do you think farmers are such a good fit for the Occupy movement? What is your advice to farmers in making their voices heard?

5. OSGATA is also involved in a lawsuit against Monsanto. The case was filed in March. What is the claim of the suit? Who is involved? Where is OSGATA in the process? What have been some of the responses to the lawsuit? When is it likely to be resolved? What do you anticipate the resolution to be?

6. What do you see as some of the other pressing issues for organic farmers, food justice, and food safety?

7. What advice do you have for listeners who want to be involved in food justice issues?

8. Finally, what was it like to be selected as one of Utne Reader’s 25 Visionaries of 2011?

You can learn more about OSGATA, the OSGATA lawsuit against Monsanto, and Jim Gerritsen at OSGATA’s website: www.osgata.org

(from OSGATA press release: The case, Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association, et al. v. Monsanto, was filed in federal district court on March 29, 2011, on behalf of 60 family farmers, seed businesses and organic agricultural organizations, challenging Monsanto’s patents on genetically modified seed. The case now represents 83 plaintiffs.)

Our Discussion with Pamm Larry

Pamm Larry is one of the chief organizers of the label GMOs movement here in California. We first talked with Pamm eight months ago, in April, when she told us she’d had an epiphany on January 20 of this year to take a stand on protection of the food system against GMOs. And here she is, less than a year later, heading a ballot initiative that would require GMOs to be labeled.

1. What does the ballot initiative call for?

2. What is the process for getting the initiative on the November ballot?

3. What do you teach in your signature gathering workshops

4. How many signatures do you have to gather and by when?

5. How can listeners get involved in this process? The LabelGMOS website is http://www.labelgmos.org. You can find a link to the actual language of the ballot initiative, and FAQs about the initiative.

An Update on Electric Vehicles

Last week a listener called in to ask if EVs create high levels of EMFs–electromotive magnetic forces–which have been identified as health risks from sources like high tension wires.

We found a brief article by Eric J. Leech, Planet Green [note that he is talking about hybrids, not all-electric vehicles]:

We should by no means conclude that hybrids are not a potential source of dangerous levels of EMF, but nor should we go running scared just yet. Recent studies from Honda show that the electric hybrid produces no more EMF levels than any other combustion vehicle. Almost every vehicle has its share of electric components (stereo, seats, GPS, control module, etc.) that cause a certain amount of EMF, there is just unfortunately no getting around that.

Now that is not the last word on the matter, but it’s the most direct statement we were able to locate. Eric Leech also goes into some other concerns and myths that have been generated about electric cars, such as a myth going around that emergency workers might be afraid to apply the jaws of life to an electric car for fear of being electrocuted. We’d urge you to do additional reading yourself; just type “electric car myths” into your search engine and you’ll find lots of materials.

[Three Hybrid Myths Debunked

by Eric J. Leech, Planet Green

12 Myths About Electric Vehicles

by Dave Chameides, Planet Green

8 Electric-Car Myths Busted

Kiera Butler in Mother Jones


1. Real Food 2:58 Jerry Engler Very Jerry Country

2. Good Health 3:37 The Dixie Hummingbirds In Good Health

3. Monsanto (Go Away!) 6:17 Human Naked

4. The Rape Of The World 7:08 Tracy Chapman New Beginning

5. Weave Me the Sunshine 4:28 Peter, Paul And Mary The Very Best of Peter, Paul and Mary