One look at organic farmer Jim Gerritsen and you know he means business. In a time when chemical industry created mono-crop plots and genetically modified corn and soy dominate the United States landscape, Gerritsen, owner of Wood Prairie Organic Farm in Northern Maine, has been successful by remaining true to his profession and the legacies of the country’s farming pioneers.
The 57-year-old is also on the front lines of the battle for freedom from GMO crops as the president of the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Organization, the lead plaintiff in landmark lawsuit against the GMO and herbicide giant Monsanto arguing that farmers have the right to protect themselves from patent infringement lawsuits as a result of unwanted cross contamination.
Gerritsen, a 36-year organic farming veteran, sat down for an in-depth interview with AltHealthWORKS.com to discuss the shocking, perplexing dismissal of the original suit, several frequently asked questions about GMOs and cross contamination (including how tests are done) from an organic expert’s perspective, the blatant lies Monsanto continues to tell, and the coming Moment of Truth for the GMO Freedom Movement. Here’s the interview, we hope you enjoy and will share with your friends to help get the word out:
JG: Yeah, our family owns it, we’ve owned it and farmed it for 36 years, all organically. It’s an isolated farm in Northern Maine and our primary crops are raising seed, that isolation is valuable for raising seed.
AHW: And you’re also the head of a prominent organic farmers organization, correct?
JG: I’m the president of the trade organization for the organic seed industry, OSGATA, which stands for Organic Seed Growers and Trade Organizations. OSGATA is the lead plaintiff in OSGATA et al vs. Monsanto, which was filed in March 2011, and we have a very large plaintiff group. We started out with 83 and the 83 were comprised of individual family farmers, independent seed companies and agricultural organizations. If you take the combined membership of all we represent over 300,000 people including about a quarter of certified organic farmers in the United States and Canada.
AHW: How did that come about for you personally?
JG: Well…we’ve been organic farmers for approaching 40 years and ever since a farming conference in Canada maybe 25 years ago and Pat Roy Mooney from ETC Group (full name the Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration, a group dedicated to “the conservation and sustainable advancement of cultural and ecological diversity and human rights”)…He gave us a talk telling us of this new technology called genetic engineering…and it was of great concern for us so we’ve been following this with trepidation for 25 years. The crops became commercialized in the mid-1990s.
Those of us who are organic farmers, particularly seed growers are very much aware of the mobile nature of pollen and…genetic pollen, transgenic pollen from GMO crops has an extreme likelihood of contaminating neighboring crops, organic or non-GMO conventional, so this has been on our radar screen for a quarter century. We feel as Americans we have the right to farm the way we want to on our farms without being trespassed upon by Monsanto. We’re very anxious to protect our rights not only for our family and food we raise but for the customers we sell to. If we’re not given the protection of raising clean food and seed on our farms then all of our customers, they lose access to good clean food…that goes across entire organic community. Everyone buying organic food needs to be aware that their access to clean organic food is in jeopardy now because of GMO contamination.
AHW: Do you think this is something not being understood well enough by people who actually do give GMO companies even a little benefit of doubt?
JG: I think they (the GMO/chemical food companies) are not fools, they understand it very clearly, they just want to maintain the status quo and they want to put us on the defense. Biotech’s view is that they want us to create the buffer on our side of the fence. That flies in the face of hundreds of years worth of English common law, the laws we have in our country all trace way back to English common law and those laws go back to the Magna Carta. The principle behind English common law, there’s one phrase fairly well known and that is, “A Man’s Home is his Castle,” that represents this concept in English common law that what a man does in his home, on his place (can’t be violated), it can’t be trespassed upon or entered into. This is the basis of the society that we have created for hundreds of years and there’s been respect for the private property rights of citizens and farmers. So, if for example, if we should be neighbors and I have a herd of cattle and you have a nice clover field it’s my responsibility to fence those cattle in so that they don’t cause damage or loss to your nice clover. It’s not your responsibility to put up a fence to keep out my cattle. That respect for neighbor’s property rights has allowed Americans to peaceably live amongst one another for hundreds of years now.
So this was the case until about 15 or 20 years ago when Biotech comes along and all of a sudden the burden is reversed, the burden is placed on the innocent neighbor and we have to provide buffer from our side of the fence. The way we feel the implicit threat here is that since the early 1980s when the Supreme Court made fatally flawed decision of allowing patenting of life forms, by allowing the bacteria to be patented, that was the jumping point for all the trouble that ensued ever since.
The way it is now, Biotech companies like Monsanto have filed for patents with the U.S. Patent Office and the U.S. patent office has given them these patents, and part of our lawsuit is challenging the validity of these. But as the situation is right now…Monsanto has these patents and they are using…the club, the of threat for patent infringement should any farmer end up possessing their genes even if possession Comes from a contamination incident.
In U.S. patent law there is no exemption for holding patents, the only way you are permitted to possess another company’s patents is if you sign a licensing agreement they provided for you. There is no exemption like copyright law…you have the Fair Use doctrine which allows a book reviewer to take a portion of their book and use it in an article reviewing that book….that’s the Fair Use…there’s no equivalent exemption…if you are in possession of patented technology without a licensing agreement you are in violation of that patent holder’s rights and in other words infringing and you are liable.
We filed our case in March 2011 in Federal District Court at 7 NY in Manhattan seeking court protection under the Declaratory Judgment Act which is a law Congress passed 25-30 years ago expressly for the situation we find ourselves in.
Farmers in our plaintiff group are not customers of Monsanto. We want nothing to do with them. We don’t want their seed. We don’t want their technology, we don’t want their trespass, we don’t want their invasion, we don’t want their contamination and we certainly do not want to face litigation for patent infringement when they trespass upon our farms and claim we are in possession of their technology, when it’s nothing that we want.
Congress passed that act for precisely this situation, when a minority player is prevented from the full use of their private property based on concern that utilizing of that property will result in patent infringement. This is how Congress allowed a party who feels their rights have been abridged, that we can go to court and present our case and Monsanto can present their defense and then a judge will determine where they have met their standard which allows us to get that protection, so the means by which we will be arguing that we deserve the protection we will be challenging the validity of Monsanto’s GMO patents on Roundup Ready crops, herbicide resistant corps which represent about 80 percent of all genetically engineered crops.
AHW: I see, and are there farmers you’ve talked to or known part of OSGATA who have been put out of business by Monsanto? And also what is farthest distance of cross contamination you’ve seen in America?
JG: Within the plaintiff group including OSGATA we do have members who have been forced to stop growing crops like organic corn soybeans and canola because of the certainty that they will be contaminated by Monsanto’s seed being grown by their neighbors, they have basically been restricted in their use of their own land and suffered economic harm, which is one of the requirements of the Declaratory Judgment Act, you can’t have theoretical concern but you have to have an abridgement of property rights and have suffered loss, and these farmers that have ceased growing crops of course, they have suffered losses.
Judge (Naomi) Buchwald in her dismissal of our case which came in February of this year…on one hand acknowledged the likelihood of contamination but then didn’t connect the dots, and said that we should have nothing to fear because Monsanto has “assured” us on their website they won’t pursue us for patent infringement.
Well, we provided in our brief two points I can bring up here. Early in this process we asked Monsanto for a binding legal covenant which would guarantee they would not sue us if they contaminated us. Our lawyers asked Monsanto to provide that and Monsanto refused to provide that…that tells us they want to preserve their option of pursuing us.
This was astounding to us; we all read the judge’s ruling…it knocked us off our chairs because the judge said we should find comfort in the statement that Monsanto has posted on their website. Now this statement you can find on the Monsanto website under their “commitment” to farmers, this commitment which is anonymous, it has no meaning. I mean, if somebody doesn’t sign their name to it, even if we were to believe Monsanto, and the essence of the commitment is they will not pursue a farmer for patent infringement should trace amounts of their patented technology end up on our farms through inadvertent means. Two keys: “trace amount and inadvertent means.”
Just using a little bit of logic, if you have one unit more than a trace amount, they will pursue us. We have tried unsuccessfully to get them to tell us, what do these terms mean, trace amount and inadvertent means? They refuse to say so, they like to keep it vague. You can deduce that if a trace amount is not sufficient to pursue patent infringement litigation there is some unit above the trace amount when they will.
We have been unsuccessful using court briefs to explain inadvertent means and they refuse to do so, but we believe what they mean is that organic farmers need to provide a sufficient buffer on their farms to prevent cross contamination, and that should we become contaminated that would be indication that we have not provided sufficient buffer therefore it would no longer be inadvertent but intentional possession. We would thereby be liable for patent infringement but this is a point I want to make, we consider that statement, their commitment vague and we don’t believe them but even if we did believe them today there’s nothing preventing Monsanto from changing their statement on their website tomorrow because it has no legal binding. Their refusal to provide a written legal binding covenant tells us they have ulterior motives.
Monsanto filed a motion to dismiss in July 2011, in that they made reference to a commitment on website saying farmers shouldn’t worry that this commitment indicates Monsanto won’t pursue the plaintiffs should we be pursued and trespassed upon. Within one week of filing that motion to dismiss, in an entirely separate case in which Monsanto was pursuing a family farmer in Eastern District of Missouri, that would be in St. Louis federal court, their home turf, they were pursuing a farmer for patent infringement.
This farmer and his attorneys invoked this farmer commitment on Monsanto’s website and they argued, “You shouldn’t be pursuing us, look here on your website!” You have a commitment to farmers saying you’re not going to sue me when we have trace amounts for inadvertent means. Monsanto’s own lawyers characterized the commitment on Monsanto’s website as “vague and without meaning.”
On August 11, we filed our rebuttal to Monsanto’s motion to dismiss and our lawyers cited in our brief this was like trying to play it both ways. They’re trying to tell us we should be assured by it yet in another case in federal court record, and there are transcripts available, we cited in our brief we exposed this two-facedness by Monsanto. But then a judge rules five months later dismissing the case.
In our ruling he says the farmers should find comfort in this “commitment,” why would a judge make reference to a commitment that has been completely exposed as fallacious? We were just mystified.
It was for reasons along those lines that the judge committed factual errors and legal errors, for example, ignoring Supreme Court guidance on how to interpret the Declaratory Judgment Act that caused a huge legal error. We did file an appeal to the Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. and we are citing legal and factual errors by judge Buchwald that when taken together, they caused her to come to an incorrect conclusion and her dismissal of the case is a reversible error. So we submitted an appeal brief on July 5 of this summer and one week later we had two briefs filed on our behalf, both of them very well done, very powerful. One was put together by 11 law professors across the U.S. in support of family farmers and our position that we deserve our day in court. The lawsuit filed was a classic case Congress was trying to address with the Declaratory Judgment Act. That’s where we are now, the substance of our case has not yet been argued, so far all we’ve been able to do is battle Monsanto on their pre-trial efforts to try to get case dismissed.
They have another motion for a change of venue. We’ve studied Monsanto and we understand this is how they do things, they delay, delay, delay everything they can hoping opposition runs out of resources. This has been very effective in the past and we believe we have a strong case and Monsanto knows it so they’re doing everything they can to get this from going to court.
AHW: What about the cross contamination, how far have you seen it happen from GMO crops to organic or other non-GMO crops?
JG: That all depends on the biology of a specific plant, some grasses such as bentgrass which is GMO have been found 15 miles from the site of planting. Other crops such as Roundup Ready sugar beets are of the beta family which contains sugar, red table beets and Swiss chard are all in same family, and can be contaminated by the GMO sugar beet pollen. When it comes to corn, we’re not comfortable with anything less than a mile and a half or two miles.
Organic seed corn is one of the crops raised on our Wood Prairie Organic Farm here in Maine….to our knowledge the nearest is six miles away and we still do testing of our corn crop to judge as to whether or not we have received contamination, so far we have not but you never know pollen dispersed by wind, …crops that are wind-pollinated, those can have a real long distance, much greater than the textbooks show.
One story I heard once was about how a farmer in the Midwest farming along a river canyon was contaminated; wind currents that travel down the valley and I think he had contamination six or eight miles away. So there are those kinds of realities and as a seed grower it is essential that we have genetic purity and we feel that the federal government erred in allowing these GM crops to be grown in the first place because they cannot contain the pollen.
Again, it’s not only organic farmers, there are significant numbers of non-GMO conventional farmers that also don’t want contamination, if they’re selling it to Europe the entire marketability of their crop is based on the absence of genetic engineering content and for markets in Asia and Europe this is essential, these farmers, just like those in our plaintiff group, we have the right to grow crops the way that we want to on our own land and Monsanto does not have the right to violate our property rights and trespass upon us. We certainly think it is grossly unfair to have to defend ourselves from the claim of patent infringement should we become contaminated.
AHW: If a small portion, let’s say a small portion of corn is contaminated with GMO…10-20 percent, something like that. What are effects of that…will the next batch of crops grown in that spot have GMO material too?
JG: Yeah, whenever you’re harvesting something there’s always something like a seed shatter going on…like when you’re harvesting corn there is going to be a certain percentage of that corn crop that leaks through the cracks in the combine or gravity wagon emptying your combine hopper into, so there is always a risk of having…in farming we call it volunteers, spill seed that comes back in another generation…
So if there is GMO content within that crop that’s being harvested, statistically a certain percent that falls back on the ground is also going to have that contamination so that could re-contaminate another crop. One of the difficulties with GMO contamination is that it’s invisible to the human eye and can only be identified with expensive laboratory tests. We don’t think it’s fair for organic farmers, we’re having to pay 200 dollars a test to have a PCR test done, a 10,000 kernel test to see if we’ve been contaminated or not, well, why should the innocent victim have to pay for this cost to say, whether we are free from contamination or not, certainly polluter should pay. That’s the principle operation, the principle within our political system is that the polluter pays. Monsanto has turned this around so that the innocent victims are the ones having to put the buffer our side of fence, we’re suffering contamination and we pay for the testing. We think this violates our property rights and we don’t like it.
AHW: Are there new ways of testing for GMO contamination being developed? I think I saw a handheld device on a website but I’m not sure if that would produce a reliable test or not.
JG: Maybe there’s technology I don’t know about, but to my knowledge the PCR test is state-of-the-art. They have us provide a reputable 10,000 kernel sample and they’re able to detect one kernel out of 10,000. OSGATA is doing some research preparing a guide for organic farmers on a GE avoidance contamination protocol.
Now, there are cheaper methods like the strip test, which is cheaper and quicker, it’s usually 5-10 dollars and administered by a farmer or a manager in a grain elevator or a field. That is only a one way street, however, unlike the PCR which is a two-way street.
A strip test can tell you if a load is hot but not if a load is cold, in other words if you have a seed lot and you have GE contamination in that, a strip test can identify that you do have the contamination, however, if you do a strip test and it comes out negative it is incorrect to extrapolate that it is clean from GE content.
If you’re taking in corn and have organic facility there is no tolerance for GE contamination. If the strip test finds that a load is hot you have to turn it down, but you still have to do PCR testing to develop a high level of confidence in that load of crops.
AHW: Do you see a more efficient way to test on the horizon?
JG: If there is I’m not aware of it. I’m sure somebody’s working on it because it’s a very costly process for the organic community to have to test different lots. Our small family farm is spending thousands of dollars of testing and that’s coming right off of our bottom line, to do what we feel we need to do to protect farmers and customers from GM seeds.
AHW: What about new GM crops, is there a lot of trepidation about how will people will be able to avoid GMO crops, which have shown to cause adverse health effects, if more there are varieties coming out that could further cross-contaminate crops such as the apple and even rice or wheat?
JG: Yeah, it’s a treadmill and it’s interesting to me how quickly Biotech has gone…only a couple years ago, where they were touting their Monsanto Roundup Ready crops as being so great…now many, many species have developed Roundup resistance in many locales and the GMO crops are becoming non-functional very quickly, they’re now shifting to 2-4D.
I see this as just a bankrupt system, on the BT corn they have developed resistance from what I understand and this accelerated rapidly this year, a resistance has been developed to Roundup by the corn rootworm (which badly damages corn crops). I was at a USDA conference 16 years ago entitled, ‘Developing Resistance Strategics for transgenic BT, which is the gene-spliced bacterial toxin Monsanto and other corporations are gene-splicing into the food supply, and Monsanto assured us no there was no mammalian toxicity at the conference.
Their reps also assured us no possibility of resistance because they had placed such a high concentration, there was supposedly no way any insect would develop resistance to it. At this conference, 100 leading etymologists, insect scientists from the U.S. and Canada, none of them believed Monsanto because that flies in the face of scientific reality, even if you kill 99.9 percent there will be certain small portion that will develop resistance, you can keep killing off 99.9 percent year after year but you’re in essence creating superbugs that breed with one another, accelerating the likelihood of resistance. The fact is that corn rootworm is developing resistance comes as no surprise to anyone, and I’m sure it doesn’t come as a surprise to Monsanto, though they deny that it’s a problem. And I think that these GMO crops, it will be part and parcel that there will be continued failures because it is a paradigm that clearly does not work.
As far as this 2-4D (high-potency pesticides), there are these tremendous distances and the mobile nature of the chemical 2-4D is legend; 100-200 miles…My way of looking at it is that with 2-4D, if they can’t contain it to on-site spray and it can drift 90 to 100 miles, that should be banned just on the basis of its physical qualities. It’s improper for them to use it if the drift is that far, it’s unacceptable.
AHW: That sounds really bad, almost like a Vietnam-type situation in America.
JG: Many of us are aware that 2-4D is one of two components in Agent Orange and this is headed down the wrong road, we’re on chemical treadmill and there will resistance to it, it will fail and there’s going to be a lot of impact and damage in the meantime to people that don’t want to be trespassed upon. In the meantime everyone that eats food should have an interest in this because it’s their right of access to good food that is being eroded away by Biotech and their cross contamination.
AHW: Should someone feel comfortable buying packaged food that says non-GMO, can they feel confident it’s not contaminated? For instance some brands of tortilla chips have corn as ingredient but it says non-GMO. I know the Non-GMO Project is reputable but some people say they don’t feel comfortable buying packaged food even if it says non-GMO, if it contains corn or soy for example.
JG: I’d go to the manufacturer and ask them what they mean for that, ask them, “Are you testing each one for GMO content?” Because corn and canola for instance by nature of their biology, are the greatest (candidates) for contamination because the pollen is so mobile. We grow corn (on Wood Prairie Organic Farm) but we’re at a far enough north latitude that there’s not much corn grown up here. Given our latitude, we’re in a better position where we can raise corn here, we’re confident we can avoid GMO contamination, we’re not certain but we’re confident. If you’re in Iowa, not so much.
But there are techniques you can use such as staggering planting a month later than your neighbor so there’s a different pollen window, those techniques are helpful but no guarantee.
AHW: So Jim, let’s say people finally get the message and we start planting organic again as the dominant agricultural style, let’s say someone wants to take a field that was GMO and start planting on that field, what would the process be to avoid contamination and can you go back and kind of salvage that land, or is it like radiation where you have to wait a certain period?
JG: In order for crop to be certified, every bit of the land has to be free of prohibited practices and materials for 36 months…So in that time, say if GMO corn was grown on a field, in that 36-month transition period one would want to not grow corn on it for sure. Because you would want to eliminate the chance of volunteers growing and re contaminating the field. You’d have to come up with a systematic logical rotation to try to free that, but that would meet the national organic program requirements.
AHW: But it can be done so that you can transfer former GMO field to organic if you wait long enough and do the right practices?
JG: Well, you’ve got two primary applications for GE crops, 80 percent are Roundup Ready…or herbicide resistant and maybe 15 percent have that bacterial toxin in the genes, gene-spliced in. We were assured there was no mammalian toxicity with BT corn and there was no way for it to get in, well imagine how surprised these scientists were in Quebec two summers ago when they checked pregnant women’s blood and fetuses, and 90 percent had BT in them when we were assured by Monsanto point blank that it wouldn’t happen. What you can take away from that is, nothing Monsanto says should you ever take at face value.
We also saw with Dr. Seralini (in France) about a month ago, his study showing the cancerous tumors on rats that were fed GE crops, this was a type of Monsanto’s GE corn in combination Roundup and corn, and all these cancers developed after four months. Interestingly, a Biotech standard industry study period is 90 days, it’s inadequate so the data the government used to approve these crops was provided by Biotech based on 90-day research period. The research from Dr. Seralini (a lifetime study) showed the significant likelihood of tumors developing that all kicked in beginning at four months. We just have a completely dysfunctional system that doesn’t protect our interests. The government regulators don’t do research on their own, all they do is a document review from the manufacturer who wants to get the product approved. Of course there’s a conflict of interest and the manager will tout the benefits and downplay the drawbacks to their product yet it’s the same mechanism we have in place for chemicals as well as Biotech crops. The fact is the American public is not served by a dysfunctional system catering to the big corporations.
AHW: What are your thoughts about GMO labeling (Prop. 37) in California, I take it you’ve been following closely?
JG: Yes, very closely, the people of California will vote but everybody in all 50 states will be impacted by the outcome of that outcome.
OSGATA, we have members in California and we haven’t yet taken an official position because no one has asked us to. If we want to be a supporter I’m sure we would. There’s been a virtual unanimous support of Prop. 37 among organic seed growers
The fact is, in numerous polls at least 85 or 90 percent of Americans support labeling of GMO products, it cuts across party lines and is supported by everyone. The only ones we can’t get to support it are the government who’s in collusion with the corporations. The reality is that we are a Democracy and we need a free flow of information in order to fulfill our responsibility to be good citizens, when that information flow is cut off by corporations that refuse to label in collusion with the government, it’s a situation to where the public interest is not served and it needs to change.
Here’s the reality, Monsanto goes to the FDA and Dan Quayle 20 years ago concocted this ide this concept of “natural equivalence” that GMO crops are naturally equivalent to traditional crops. For that reason the FDA has made the excuse that we’re not going to require the labeling of GMO crops. Yet Monsanto will go to the U.S. Patent’s Office and they’ll say our invention is new, it’s different, it’s deserving of a patent and the U.S. Patent’s Office grants it.
Well, which one is it? Is it a new product that’s distinct and different and worthy of a patent? In that case it’s different, or is it substantially equivalent? It’s the same thing and in that case doesn’t qualify as a new thing. It has to be new, valuable and demonstrating benefit to the society from it, that’s one of the things that’s required, that’ll be, we have four self-standing legal arguments of patent law that our patent lawyers will be arguing in court.
One of them is that Monsanto’s GE patents do not meet the requirement for social utility, there’s a somewhat famous supreme court ruling in which happened almost 200 years ago in the Supreme Court. In the ruling, it said that if someone were to bring a poison that poisons people to the patent office and try to get that patented, it would not qualify for a patent because poison that poisons people does not demonstrate social utility and therefore it is unqualified to receive a patent. That will be one of the arguments that we make and we have three other independent arguments but once we get to court all we have to do is win one of those arguments.
Monsanto has to defeat us on all four arguments for them to win their case and again we feel that we have a strong case and we’re anxious for Monsanto to stop their delaying and allow family farmers to have their day in court like anyone else, we have that right and we’re anxious for that day to come as quickly as it can.
AHW: Are you seeing a lot more people interesting in organic farming?
JG: We’ve noticed at the conferences we attend, not only is there an increased number but even more remarkable are the numbers of young people coming in. In particular, people in their 20s but sometimes in their 30s. It’s the new face of the American organic farmer, one who is highly educated and often on the fringes of urban and suburban America and they’ve done a good job in direct marketing, sometimes with CSAs. But they know the demand is out there and the farmers seem to economically benefit being as close to the end user as possible so they’ve created marketing opportunities. I’d say the new organic farmer is very entrepreneurial in nature and they’re fulfilling this new demand for organic. People are putting two and two together and they’re realizing genetically engineered food and chemically-laden food is not anything they want to feed their families.
AHW: Quick side question, there are some people who buy different varieties of food, let’s say blue corn, to avoid GMOs, is that less susceptible to cross contamination?
JG: It’s going to be able to cross but the interesting thing is that blue corn is visually distinctive from yellow corn that the federal government has allowed Monsanto to gene splice. .So if you had, if you were growing blue corn on your farm and neighbors have Roundup Ready yellow corn and pollen contaminated your corn, you could pick out the kernels. If it wasn’t blue corn, it would be a pretty good guess that it’s GE corn. Turning that around maybe it would be good idea if Monsanto came to the federal government (in the first place) to patent this new corn and the government said, “Gee, since it’s physically impossible to tell GE corn from Farmer Jones’ yellow corn, the only thing we’ll allow you to grow is blue or red or green, something of a dissimilar color so there would be a visual difference. But the fact is these crops have been totally deregulated and one has to ask why.
You look at the revolving door with industry regulators…Michael Taylor, who was a top person from Monsanto is at the FDA now and it was 20 years ago when they concocted the fallacy of substantial equivalence. The fact is the regulators are not representing the public interest, they’re representing their friends with the feds and those that they have lunch with when they go back to Biotech. It’s outrageous.
AHW: So about blue corn, you can have, say a blue corn chip and technically it can’t be genetically modified?
JG: Monsanto is greedy so it wouldn’t surprise me, but haven’t heard they have (made GMO blue corn) but it won’t surprise me if that’s something in their toolbox that they’ll come up with.
If you’re trying to buy blue corn, is that a solution? I think what it comes down to for the individual consumer is you need to know the farmer, get as close to the producer as you can, and find someone who’s confident and knowledgeable about the threat of GMO contamination and work with them.
That sounds like tall order from a macro style, maybe it’s not (going to work for all Americans) but it is a solution for my family and your family. Now if that farmer has blue corn so much the better but I think it comes down to integrity and consciousness on the part of the farmer. That’s the standard I hold for our family and that’s what I recommend, yes it takes more effort but institutionally I think we have a failure of the system that’s not protecting the person.
It’s kind of like the lessons learned with Hurricane Katrina, the idea that the government is going to protect you, I think it became very clear we simply don’t have that guarantee, we really have to take care of ourselves. The institutions out there want us to keep quiet and follow their guidance even when they don’t have our best interest at heart. In short, know the farmer, blue corn would be another way to go but that falls in behind…
AHW: Any other aspects of GMOs that people don’t know about you’d like to speak on?
JG: Some people think that all is lost to Monsanto because they control such a large percent of the seed supply. I don’t believe that’s the case, the fact is this, six major industrial commodity crops are de-regulated (GMOs)…corn, canola, soy, sugar beets, and alfalfa. They tried to do the same with wheat but we beat them back at that, and with potatoes and that was rejected by the market 10-12 years ago. That’s our primary crop and we’re very well versed on the potato situation.
Wheat has not been commercialized (although test plots are growing- editor’s note), there are indications that there is a movement afoot but as of now it has not been permitted. Oats have not been permitted, sunflowers, not permitted.
But still, the fact is that awaiting deregulation there are 70 or 80 crops, and Biotech with their partners in collusion with the government are fast-tracking the approval process now.
Now is the time to resist, if we don’t resist at this point we may not have access to a future besides GMO or GMO-contaminated crops.
As of right now the number of crops is limited, it is still in the hundreds of millions of acres so I don’t mean to downplay it but the fact is you can eliminate corn from your diet, you can get rice, wheat, oats, you can use sunflower oil rather than cotton or corn oil, or canola so there are ways of protecting yourself and your family but what everyone needs to realize is that the Biotech companies have these intended GMO applications.
They have a virus-indexed lettuce, spinach, squash, you name it and every type of food that we eat in our diet, there is a GE version on the drawing board if not at the train station awaiting government de-regulation. So now is the time to resist this. If you want an option besides GMO food, if that’s important, they need to get involved now vote yes on Prop 37 if they’re in California, or send a contribution to the grassroots campaign to try to counter the lies and disinformation Biotech is using on the television with their media blast. You know it’s come out in the news that Biotech has hired former tobacco lobbyists manage their campaign. We’ve got to put our money where our mouth is and not only support verbally but actually come up with the cash to help our allies in California fight these Biotech organizers off.
AHW: Alright Jim, thanks a lot for joining us and best of luck in your lawsuit.
JG: Thank you very much for having me.