Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Organic Farmers' Suit Against Monsanto Dismissed


Judge Sides with Monsanto in Lawsuit   
Ridicules Connecticut NOFA Farmers' Right to Grow Food without Genetic Contamination and Economic Harm
New York, NY - Judge Naomi Buchwald's February 24 decision dismissing the case of Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association et al v. Monsanto was met with great disappointment by organic farmers, seed growers and agricultural organizations, including CT NOFA—and a renewed commitment to fight on.
Daniel Ravicher, lead attorney for the 81 plaintiffs represented in the lawsuit, said, "While I have great respect for Judge Buchwald, her decision to deny farmers the right to seek legal protection from one of the world's foremost patent bullies is gravely disappointing."
"Her belief," added Ravicher, "that farmers are acting unreasonably when they stop growing certain crops to avoid being sued by Monsanto for patent infringement, should their crops become contaminated, maligns the intelligence and integrity of those farmers." 
Ravicher said the judge failed to address the purpose of the Declaratory Judgment Act and mischaracterized the Supreme Court precedent that supports the farmers' standing.  "In sum, her opinion is flawed on both the facts and the law.  Thankfully, the plaintiffs have the right to proceed to the Court of Appeals, which will review the matter without deference to her findings," the attorney said.
Monsanto's history of aggressive investigations and lawsuits brought against farmers in America has been a source of concern for organic and non-GMO agricultural producers since Monsanto's first lawsuit brought against a farmer in the mid-‘90s.  Since then, 144 farmers have had lawsuits filed against them by Monsanto for alleged violations of their patented seed technology.  
Monsanto has sued more than 700 additional farmers who have settled out-of-court rather than face Monsanto's belligerent, and well-financed, litigious actions. 
Many of these farmers claim to not have had the intention to grow or save seeds that contain Monsanto's patented genes. Seed contamination and pollen drift from genetically engineered crops often migrate to neighboring fields. If Monsanto's seed technology is found on a farmer's land without a contract the farmer can be found liable for patent infringement.
"Family farmers need the protection of the court," said Maine organic seed farmer Jim Gerritsen, President of the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, the lead plaintiff. 
Gerritsen added, "We reject as na├»ve and indefensible the judge's assertion that Monsanto's vague public relations 'commitment [not to sue farmers for 'trace amounts' of their seeds are genetically engineered traits], should be 'a source of comfort' to plaintiffs. The truth is we are under threat and we do not believe Monsanto." 
The plaintiffs brought the suit against Monsanto to seek judicial protection from such lawsuits and challenge the validity of Monsanto's patents on seeds.
"Monsanto is the big biotechnology bully and has used the courts, for years, to intimidate farmers," said Mark A. Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst at The Cornucopia Institute, another plaintiff.  "The purpose of our lawsuit is to preemptively challenge its reign of intimidation over organic farmers, and others, who have chosen not to jump on their genetically engineered bandwagon."


Another plaintiff, organic farmer Bryce Stephens of Kansas, added, "As a citizen and property owner, I find the Order by the Federal Court to be obsequious to Monsanto."
"Seeds are the memory of life," said Isaura Anduluz of plaintiff Cuatro Puertas in New Mexico.  "If planted and saved annually, cross pollination ensures the seeds continue to adapt. In the Southwest, selection over many, many generations has resulted in native drought tolerant corn.  Now that a [Monsanto's] patented drought tolerant corn has been released how do we protect our seeds from contamination and our right to farm?"

A copy of Judge Buchwald's ruling is located here

 To learn more about the lawsuit, come to Dan Ravicher's workshop at the CT NOFA Winter Conference this Saturday, March 3 at Manchester Community College.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Don't Just go Local, Grow Local!

When searching for the most delicious, healthiest, and most cost effective produce, a great tactic is to buy local.  Locally produced foods cut down on transportation costs and are fresher, more nutritious, and tastier than foods that are brought in from far away.  If you take that mentality to its logical conclusion, however, the most local you can get is to simply grow it yourself!  Growing your own fruits and vegetables is incredibly cost effective, and even if you don't own a yard where you can plant a garden, you can still grow food in planters on the porch or near a window indoors.  Food picked fresh from your own home often tastes better as well since it couldn't possibly be any fresher, and you have the satisfaction of knowing that you grew it yourself.

The image above from the National Gardening Association details the demographics of American home gardeners.  A larger version of the image can be found here.  According to this information, over a third of households in the US have a garden, and many of those people are new to gardening.  If you are interested in starting a garden, or have just started one and want to learn more about how to successfully produce your own fruits and veggies, check out our workshops at Common Ground High School in New Haven.

Have a great evening!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

HB 5155 in Connecticut is a Really Big Deal

"With so many unknowns and with plausible evidence of harm to children it makes no sense for our children to be involuntarily exposed to the unnecessary use of these toxic chemicals especially when there are safe, effective affordable alternatives." - Bill Duesing as quoted in the Connecticut Post


Hi All,

I know you must be tired of us only discussing GMO-Labeling and the potential reversal of the pesticide ban.  But these are really, really important issues.  Connecticut has the opportunity to either take big steps in the right direction towards toxics safety in foods and school grounds, or taking ten steps backwards.

Healthy soil yields pest-
resistant plants!
Lets focus on the pesticide bill. The NOFA Organic Land Care Program has just concluded two of our three accreditation courses, and we've accredited about 65 new professionals (if you're interested, there's one more course in Rhode Island!)  Since I am a new employee, this is the first time I've sat through the course (though I did have the pleasure of coordinating it), and this comprehensive thirty hour course focuses on plant health, because the best pesticide (for people, the environment, pests and plants) seems to be prevention.  We also celebrated some of our landscapers who have been accredited for ten years this past December.  Organic has worked for these landscapers for ten years - it just needs to be done right!

There was a public hearing about HB 5155, an Act Modifying the Ban on Pesticide Applications on School Grounds on Wednesday, February 22.  I was unable to go because it was the last day of our Accreditation Course, and I needed to moderate the Accreditation Exam (which everyone did very well on, by the way). Yes, it's a little bit ironic that our program accredited 36 new professionals prepared to offer the services that school groundskeepers and pesticide lobbyists claim are too difficult, too expensive, or simply impossible on the same day as this hearing.  

Since I couldn't go, I submitted the following testimony:
What kind of chemicals should children really be exposed to?
I am writing from the classroom of the Accreditation Course in Organic Land Care, overseen by the Northeast Organic Farming Association’s Organic Land Care Program.  We are in the fourth day of the course, and the students have learned about turf management, planting, mulching, fertilizing and pest management all without the chemicals that the NOFA Standards for Organic Land Care have found to be both harmful and unnecessary. 

Connecticut took the lead on toxics safety and child health regulations with the pesticide ban.  The pesticides banned by P.A. 09-56 have been linked to serious health issues including, but not limited to, birth defects, behavior disorders, respiratory disease like asthma and potentially cancer.  Children are especially vulnerable to these dangerous chemicals because they play in the grass and because of their smaller, developing bodies. 
The pesticide ban is a law that Connecticut should be proud of.  Our state has prioritized the health of children over the importance of bright green grass, and the profits of chemical companies. 
Widespread non-compliance must be addressed by education and training support from programs similar to the NOFA Organic Land Care’s Accreditation.  More parents and families are choosing organic landscapers for their homes.   To then expose their children to these harmful chemicals at school disrespects these parents’ values.  As awareness grows about the potential threats of lawn chemicals, one can only expect greater support for the pesticide ban in Connecticut schools.
NOFA has the only internationally approved
land care standards
The alternative to pesticides exists. Organic land care has been applied to sports fields, turf grass, parks, homes, and many types of grounds. NOFA's Accreditation Program is in its twelfth year and we have a number of accredited organic professionals with decades of experience and many successful years offering organic services. As with every sustainable practice, at first it is more difficult. Organic land care requires that land care professionals develop an understanding of the ecology of the systems they are working with, and apply these lessons to the grounds. 
To address non-compliance with a law by simply eliminating the law is unthinkable.  Using this standard, most new laws would need to be reversed in the first couple years that new regulations take effect.  To move backwards in regards to laws protecting the health of children would be an embarrassment for Connecticut.
Sincerely,
Kristiane Huber


Bill Duesing, our Executive Director also submitted an eloquent testimony which you can read here, you can read all the testimonies on this pageWant to comment on the bill? Beyond Pesticides has set up this online petition which will help you contact your legislator directly. 

Best,
Kristiane

Monday, February 20, 2012

Our Winter Conference is Less than Two Weeks Away!

Wow, what a busy few weeks we've been having here!  We're in the middle of our Accreditation Course in Organic Land Care, as well as preparing for several upcoming workshops and tabling events in New Haven and Hartford.  We're also gearing up for our biggest event of the year - our Winter Conference!

Join us in celebrating our 30th Annual Winter Conference with keynote international bestselling author Jeffrey M. Smith.  Mr. Smith is the leading spokesperson on the health dangers of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). He documents how the world’s most powerful Ag biotech companies bluff and mislead critics, and put the health of society at risk.

Our schedule of events for the day is now available online! There will be over 40 workshops, a potluck lunch, vendors, live music, cooking demos, exhibits, and expert panels.  If you're a member or volunteer for us at the conference, you even get $10 off your registration!  Best of all, we're running a promotion right now so that you can become a member for just $15 for the first year.  Join today and take advantage of the member discount at the Winter Conference!

This short video from our 2010 Conference gives an idea of what it's like to attend:


Our biggest event of the year might be under two weeks away, but you can still take part!  Check out our website to learn more, and fill out your registration online.  You can also register by calling our office at 203.888.5146 or by mailing in a printable registration form

With hundreds of people in attendance every year, this is an experience you don't want to miss!  Sign up today and I'll see you there!

Best,
Melissa

Friday, February 17, 2012

Connecticut's Legislative Session Has Definitely Begun

There are so many things going on this week! I'm writing from the Accreditation Course in Organic Land Care in New Haven.  It's been a great class so far, we have about 40 students and have learned about soil biology, fertilizers, rain gardens, planting, mulches, meadows and organic turf management!


GMO-Labeling Bill:
A very exciting bill was just introduced in the Connecticut House of Representatives. HR Bill 5117 is an "Act Concerning Genetically Engineered Foods."  We're working on creating an online petition, but you can look up your legislator here and let them know that you have the right to know exactly what is in your food, exactly what you are eating and if it is harmful or potentially harmful.  Read our Executive Director, Bill Duesing's initial message about the legislation on Connecticut Environmental Headlines. Stay tuned for more information on how to take action and support this legislation.

Reversal of the School Pesticide Ban:
A very discouraging bill was also introduced to the House of Representatives.  Maybe in the same letter to your representative you might want to address the "Act Modifying the Ban on Pesticide Applications on School Grounds" or House Bill 5155.  This bill is designed to undo the pesticide ban on school grounds and playing fields at K-8 schools.  

That's right.  There is a bill in our state to reverse a law passed to protect Connecticut's children.  

Transitioning to organic is not easy, and Connecticut's groundskeepers have required more support to successfully make their school grounds pesticide free and beautiful. It would be easier, of course to just go back to how it used to be, and expose every child ages 5- 14 to chemicals used to kill other living things like insects, grubs and soil organisms.  

Both of these bills come down to our right to our health.  I don't care if genetically modified foods, foods treated with pesticides, and direct exposure to pesticides might be okay for me.  That's not enough.  These are our bodies, our children, and our future.  It is unconscionable to expose children to chemicals that might cause respiratory disorders, cancer, and reproductive issues later in their lives.

The potential health threats of GMOs are extensive but I'll leave it to the experts like Jeffrey Smith (who will be speaking on March 3 at CT NOFA's Winter Conference) to explain these risks. The point is that if there is any question about it's safety (and when it comes to GMOs and pesticides, there is beyond a question) then the public needs to be fully aware of the risks, and there needs to be a way for them to avoid these risks.

That is why we need your help. Please contact your representative, talk to your friends, and let's establish our right to healthy bodies and futures.

Best,
Kristiane

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Coventry WinterFresh Farmers' Market

Coventry WinterFresh Market Sunday, February 12, 2012
Sunday, two of our staff members, myself included, went to table at the Coventry WinterFresh Farmers' Market in Coventry, CT, out by Tolland and the University of Connecticut.  The event was wonderful - as someone who had never been to the Coventry Market before, I was thoroughly impressed by both the turnout of attendees and the selection of goods for sale.  It may be the end of winter - that tricky time of year when stored produce from the fall starts to run out while it's still too early to begin planting many summertime favorites - but that doesn't mean you can't find a variety of delicious options from local producers.  In this respect the Coventry Market is a real winner.  The locally grown and produced goods really cover all bases, from seafood to greenhouse and storage produce, to diary, meat, baked goods, and even hot sauce!  Not to mention the stands selling inedible items like beeswax candles, clothing, and cutting boards.  This market is a great example of what CT NOFA is trying to promote with its Winter Food Project: increased access to safe, healthy, local food throughout the year.  The first step in that process is to get the word out about what is available year-round in the state, so tell your friends about this and other winter markets listed on our website.

Here is a brief description of the Winter Market, as provided by the Coventry Market's website:

A photo of me next to CT NOFA's table and display board
Coventry WinterFresh Farmers’ Market brings you more than 30 local farmers and specialty food producers, from 11-2, Sundays, at Coventry High School, 78 Ripley Hill Rd. in Coventry, Connecticut. Running from November 20 through the end of February, our WinterFresh Market makes it easier to eat seasonally and locally through the depths of winter. We offer the freshest, tastiest food grown and produced in the state every Sunday, in a warm, indoor setting with good parking and easy access. We’ve lured the best farmers and food producers in Connecticut! We think you’ll be impressed! 

This was a great event for us to table at because it not only served as an easy informal way to reach audiences that didn't previously know about CT NOFA and our programs, but also was a wonderful opportunity to do a little grocery shopping!  If you'd like to come table for CT NOFA at a farmers market this spring, send me an email.  We have many volunteer opportunities coming up at markets and outreach events across the state, especially as Earth Day in April draws closer.  Volunteering for us is fun, educational, and often delicious!

Have a great afternoon!
-Melissa

Friday, February 10, 2012

Rethink Valentine's Day!

It's that time of year, all the ads for edible arrangements, flowers and Russel Stover Chocolates are back on television.  However, as human rights and environmental groups observe on virtually every holiday (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Halloween) the ecological and human rights costs of these products are in sharp contrast to the holidays they are used to celebrate.  Could there be a worse gift than something dowsed in chemicals, that causes birth defects, and permanent environmental damage?

About 78% of the flowers imported to the U.S. are from Colombia and Ecuador.  Cut flowers are heavily treated with pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, a number of these chemicals are considered illegal in the United States.  The people who apply these chemicals are young women and sometimes children, causing serious respiratory disorders and birth defects. Then they have to be shipped thousands of miles, continually hydrated, and refrigerated. 

While the CEO of Russell Stover has promised that their contracts with cocoa companies in the Ivory Coast prohibit slave labor, the ecological cost of plantation farming, pesticide application and chocolate processing is extensive (and don't even get us started on palm oil).

Why not be a little more creative than chocolate and flowers?  
It actually doesn't even require a lot of creativity.  Preparing a healthy, local, organic meal is a pretty great option, and you can avoid the Valentine's Day Restaurant craze.  There is also a growing popularity of local and organic wines. 
Fair trade organic chocolate is a little pricey (and definitely not local) - but it's delicious, and pays workers a fair price and invests in sustainable farming in developing countries, some mainstream brands like dove are even moving towards sustainability. Choosing local jewelry and crafts support local artists and are more unique.  It's also time to buy seeds (if you haven't already) - organic seeds will grow into an organic garden which will turn into organic homegrown food!

The best possible gift of course is a gift CT NOFA membership or maybe a gift Winter Conference registration.  

Have a great weekend!
Kristiane

P.S. The NOFA Accreditation Course in Organic Land Care starting next Wednesday in Connecticut and on Febrary 27 in Rhode Island is still taking registrations if you are serious about "going organic" with your business, organization, town or school!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Big Food at the Yale Peabody Museum

The following 7 minute video gives a great introduction to the challenges and solutions surrounding America's current food system.  It also serves as an overview of a new exhibit at the Yale Peabody Museum, Big Food: Health, Culture, and the Evolution of Eating, that will be running from February 11 to December 2, 2012.  Open to the public, and great for adults and kids alike, this exhibit is a wonderful interactive resource to help you learn more about your food, where it comes from, and why that's important.  And the video even features our friends at Common Ground High School in New Haven!



Learn more about the exhibit here, and check out some interactive online food games related to the exhibit here.  Below is an excerpt from the Peabody Museum's website:

Food is fundamental to life. Yet, our eating habits have become incredibly complex, involving many aspects of daily life far beyond addressing simple nutritional needs. Our world is characterized by environments that promote increased consumption of unhealthy food and sedentary lifestyles; over-nutrition and obesity now surpass under-nourishment as the world’s leading food and nutrition problem.

So why is it that our current food system promotes larger portion sizes, unhealthier meal options, and less exercise?  As the video points out, the answers are complex, but there's certainly more to it than meets the eye.  A recent article on the Spirit of Change Magazine's blog points to farm subsidies and fossil fuels as major contributing factors in the prevalence of cheap unhealthy foods.  Of course, this is only another part of a much bigger picture, but it is an important part that's worth taking into account.  Here is a particularly compelling excerpt from that article:


The truth is, food in the grocery store is not cheap. We pay for it in advance with our tax dollars, which support farm subsidies that go to support an ecologically problematic industrialized food system. We pay for it with the lives of our soldiers and with the unfathomable military expenditures that support our national reliance on fossil fuels, upon which the industrial farming model is completely dependent. The prices only look cheap because we are paying for them someplace else: through our taxes, and via the destruction of our soil, water, and natural resources through irresponsible farming practices.

Our food system has traveled down a long and winding road to get to where it is today.  Because of this, the issues surrounding our food are fraught with complexities and ambiguities, but that doesn't mean that we have to get bogged down by them.  Just remember to buy local and organic as much as you can and really honestly know where your food comes from and who's behind producing it.  That's the easiest way to ensure that you are getting whole nutritious food for yourself and your family.  Check out our Winter Food Project webpage or CT Organic Farms webpage for information about farms, farmers markets, and CSA programs in your area at this time of year.

Have a great afternoon!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Come Volunteer with us at the CT Flower and Garden Show!

We are still looking for volunteers to table at the CT Flower and Garden Show at the Convention Center in Hartford, so if you want to attend an exciting event and promote sustainable land care to the public, please email me, the volunteer coordinator, at melissa@ctnofa.org. 

We have volunteer openings Thursday-Saturday, in two shifts of 10-3 and 3-8pm.  Volunteers be tabling with one other person (so you can take breaks as necessary) and will be provided with free admission.  You can learn more about the Flower Show here

The CT Flower and Garden Show boasts award winning landscape exhibits in full bloom ranging from 300 to 2,000 square feet and occupying over 45,000 square feet of the Convention Center Exhibit Hall. There will be 250 booths filled with plants, fertilizers, garden tools, tractors and mowers, patio and lawn furniture as well as other floral and garden related products and services, as well as an extensive floral & garden related artisian section with one of a kind designs including garden ornaments, jewelry, photography and more. Our booth will be among the many non-profit and educational exhibits.  Even if you don't want to volunteer with us, visit the Show and experience some of the hours of educational seminars that will be available.

Have a great afternoon,
-Melissa

Monday, February 6, 2012

Why Seed Catalogs are Great Tools

Our newest edition of Gleanings eNews features organic seed catalogs as this month's favorite tools. Since new organic seed catalogs have just come out for the 2012 season, now is a good time to note how informative and useful seed catalogs can be when starting out your garden or farm for the year.  Really knowing what kinds of seed grow best in a particular soil and climate and when it's best to plant them can mean the difference between a successful harvest and a loss.  Seed catalogs (and the people working behind the scenes to compile them) provide more than just an indexed list of products for sale.  They represent a wealth of knowledge from decades of experience working with seeds.  If you are a farmer or gardener, taking every opportunity to soak up this kind of accumulated know-how can really put you ahead in terms of your production, regardless of whether you are growing for personal or commercial use.

A recent interview by A Way to Garden highlights one individual in the vast well of organic seed producers.  C.R. Lawn, the voice behind Fedco Seeds, is not only an expert on organic seed and production, but also was a keynote speaker at one of our past winter conferences, a co-author of the NOFA Handbook on saving seeds, and his business is a co-plaintiff in our suit against Monsanto.  In the interview, C.R. dicusses a host of topics ranging from his heroes, to the Monsanto lawsuit, to giving advice about the best lettuces, peas, and potatoes.  The following segment was particularly interesting:

Q. I have a famous garden friend who despite his expertise (and Italian heritage) lamented he could never ripen a proper crop of figs. Has any plant escaped your attempts at cultivation, or otherwise exasperated you?

A. I have never done well with peppers or eggplant. With peppers I think it is mostly that I have farmed in two windy locations and I have observed that peppers hate wind. They did much better when I built them little cages with row covers over.

I think plants know when you don’t like to eat them and they won’t grow for you. The eggplant falls in that category. Though a good chef can make an eggplant dish that I would eat, I lack that ability. The plants seem to know that and never grow for me. It doesn’t help that they prefer a great deal of heat (Maine sure was not warm enough for them most years), and they seem to be a favorite target for the Colorado Potato Beetle, which in my experience will decimate them must faster than it will potatoes.


C.R. makes a good point in this section that it's important to grow what you enjoy cooking and eating.  If you love what you grow you will have a vested interest in its success, and all that hard work will be all the more delicious come harvest time!

Have a great afternoon!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Journeyperson Program


The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Connecticut (CT NOFA) will be accepting applications from qualified new farmers to participate in its two-year support program, known as the CT NOFA Journeyperson Program, until February 17, 2012.  The program is modeled off a highly successful program piloted by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA).  CT NOFA, along with state NOFA chapters in five other states running similar programs, is able to provide two years of educational and business planning stipends, support of a paid farmer mentor, educational and networking opportunities and a specific commitment to ensuring that this small group of farmers is able to find sure footing in their first few years of farming independently.
Farmers can begin the application process by filling out an application available at www.ctnofa.org/Beginning_Farmer/Journeypersons.html  or by contacting CT NOFA’s Outreach Coordinator, Kristiane Huber at Kristiane@ctnofa.org.  The application deadline for CT NOFA’s Journey Person Application is February 17, with notification regarding the next step of the process occurring in the first week of March.  Those accepted to the program will be invited to an orientation later in the spring to officially welcome the first northeast-wide cohort of Journeyperson farmers.  The CT NOFA Journeyperson farmers will be invited to meet their counterparts from other northeast states at the annual NOFA Summer Conference in Amherst, MA in August 2012.
The CT NOFA Journeyperson Farmer Program is supported by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, Grant #2011-49400-30510.  This grant has also enabled all of the NOFA Chapters to offer scholarships to beginning farmers for their respective Winter Conferences.  CT NOFA’s Winter Conference is March 3 and will be accepting applications until February 24.  Experienced farmers that are interested in becoming mentors should contact Kristiane Huber at Kristiane@ctnofa.org
The Journeyperson Application: https://nofa.wufoo.com/forms/m7p8m7/
The Winter Conference Application: https://nofa.wufoo.com/forms/x7x1x7/
Please encourage anyone who is eligible for either program to apply.  Higher rates of participation make our program stronger, and allow us to service more beginning farmers and  be more effective! 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

OSGATA et al v. Monsanto In Depth

The following is an excerpt from our Executive Director, Bill Duesing's, article in our newest edition of the Gleanings eNewsletter that was released today.  In the article, Bill details his visit to Manhattan on Tuesday to support farmers who are trying to prevent Monsanto from suing them for patent infringement.  If you would like to read the full newsletter, click here.  If you'd like to sign up to receive our monthly eNews, click here.

A GMO Hearing and Wingnuts
February 1, 2012
activists outside the courthouse
Yesterday I had the honor of representing CT NOFA and its members at a hearing, in the Southern District Court in lower Manhattan, on Monsanto's motion to dismiss our suit asking the court to prevent Monsanto from suing farmers whose crops are contaminated by Monsanto's modified genes. (See this document for more information on the lawsuit, including a list and descriptions of our co-plaintiffs.)
 

I joined 54 other organic and non-GMO farmers, representatives of organic farming organizations and organic seed producers before 7 AM in order to get a seat in the courtroom. We came from 20 different states and one Canadian province. Although there was no opportunity for us to speak, our attorney felt it was important to show the judge that there are real people behind the law suit. There was standing room only in the courtroom. Monsanto's only supporters were its four attorneys.
 

After about three hours of waiting... Read more here!

In the following video, Dan Ravicher explains what OSGATA et al v. Monsanto is all about.  The video is a little long, but gives a really good explanation that's easy to understand for those of us who aren't familiar with legalese. 


These resources help to explain why this lawsuit is important, and give an idea of what the outcome will mean for both farmers and consumers.  If you want to learn more about activism surrounding this case, check out the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association's website.

You can also read two articles in the news about Tuesday's event here and here.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Winter Conference Updates!

We have some exciting updates about CT NOFA's 2012 Annual Winter Conference!
Trainwreck Jerry
  • Did you know CT NOFA is 30 years old? And that this is our thirtieth Winter Conference? We look at the conference as a bit of a celebration of our 30 years supporting sustainable food and farming. But what better way to celebrate our past than to discuss the future of food?
  • The labeling of genetically modified ingredients is becoming a big debate in Connecticut.  There is draft legislation expected to be introduced in the Connecticut House of Representatives this spring advocating the right of consumers to know exactly what's in their food - including genetically modified ingredients. Learn more about this issue with our keynote Jeffrey M. Smith, world renowned speaker on genetically modified foods in our food system and with Dan Ravicher (pictured in the post below addressing protesters) the attorney representing organic seed producers and farmers in our lawsuit against Monsanto.
  • Did we mention that John Turenne, a board member, one of our favorite chefs and founder of Sustainable Food Systems will be orchestrating the Winter Conference pot luck?  We're not sure if it's the largest pot luck in the state, but we bet it's in the top 3.  And when you bring together hundred of people who love farms and food and tell them all to bring their favorite dish - we are talking about an amazing potluck here.
  • What kind of celebration doesn't include music? Trainwreck Jerry will be joining us to provide some musical entertainment.  Watch a youtube of one of his performances.
Check out the official Winter Conference page!
Register today!
If you are a beginning farmer (have less than ten years of farming experience - but are serious about making farming your livelihood) you can apply for a scholarship to the Winter Conference to cover your admission fee! Apply for the scholarship here.