Seeds of Discontent

Aroostook County potato farmer Jim Gerritsen leads organic growers’ fight against genetically modified foods.

By Virginia M. Wright

For nearly three decades Jim Gerritsen quietly farmed organic seed potatoes in Aroostook County. These days he is in the international spotlight as the spokesman for the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against Monsanto Corporation, the world’s largest producer of genetically modified seeds.

Gerritsen is president of the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA), whose lawsuit asks to have Monsanto’s patents for genetically altered seeds invalidated.

OSGATA, which has been joined in lawsuit by eighty-two seed businesses, family farmers, and trade organizations, including the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, wants court protection for farmers against possible lawsuits for patent infringement should Monsanto’s transgenic crops be found in their harvest as a result of accidental cross pollination.

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Virginia M. Wright is the senior writer at Down East.

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