For Immediate Release
Maine Farmer to Speak at United Nations on International Mother Earth Day
Bridgewater, Maine - Jim Gerritsen, a Maine organic seed potato farmer, has accepted an invitation to participate on a guest panel at the United Nations in New York City on April 22, 2014. The event will be the fourth Interactive Dialogue of the General Assembly on Harmony with Nature which commemorates International Mother Earth Day.
Gerritsen, a long-time family farmer, will speak along with four additional panel members. He will offer a farmer's perspective on the advantages and challenges facing organic agriculture today in an era of declining resource availability, heightened corporate domination of agriculture, and farming systems challenged by the effects of climate change.
"I'm grateful to have been provided this unique opportunity to discuss solutions and concerns organic farmers have for the environment and the planet," said Gerritsen. "United Nations delegates from around the world are quite a remarkable audience."
In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed April 22 as International Mother Earth Day. In doing so, Member States acknowledged that the Earth and its ecosystems are a common home shared by all. A just balance of the economic, social and environmental needs of the world may only be achieved when world citizens and leaders come to understand and promote Harmony with Nature.
Involvement with Farmer Protection
Gerritsen, who grows organic seed potatoes on his family's Wood Prairie Farm in northern Maine, is president and co-founder of Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (www.osgata.org), the national farmer-run membership trade organization of the organic seed community.
OSGATA gained world notoriety in its role as lead plaintiff in the landmark federal lawsuit, OSGATA et al v. Monsanto, filed in March 2011. Farmer-plaintiffs sought both to challenge the validity of Monsanto's transgenic (genetically engineered) seed patents and gain court protection from claims of patent infringement should farmers through no fault of their own become contaminated by Monsanto's patented seed. The group gained a partial victory and had their concerns vindicated when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., last June issued a judicial ruling ordering Monsanto to not sue farmers who may receive trace amounts of contamination.
Working for Family Farmer Justice
Appearing at the United Nations will not be Gerritsen's first time to speak in New York City. In December 2011, he spoke at Zuccotti Park and the Occupy Farmers March. The next month Gerritsen was back in New York, along with scores of plaintiff farmers for a legal proceeding in the OSGATA et al v. Monsanto lawsuit. Afterwards, he spoke at the accompanying Citizen's Assembly In Support of Family Farmers in nearby Foley Square, an assembly held to demonstrate broad public support for the farmers seeking justice from the courts.
"It's our responsibility to insist that organic family farmers receive justice, that our right to farm the way we choose is respected and that organic seed and organic crops be protected from contamination," said Gerritsen.
In recent years, panel participants at this U.N. annual event have included Vandana Shiva of India and Pat Roy Mooney of Canada. Written contributions and filmed presentations from the fourth Interactive Dialogue of the General Assembly on Harmony with Nature are slated to appear online.
Wood Prairie Farm is located in Aroostook County, Northern Maine's historic center of potato farming