Spirit In Action

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Dave Murphy for Most Valuable Organizer RootsCamp, an organizing unconference by the New Organizing Institute

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Nominee for Most Valuable Organizer

Dave Murphy

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  • Nominee Information

    • Nominee’s Organization

      Organization: Food Democracy Now!

    • How the nominee exhibited innovation

      Dave Murphy founded Food Democracy Now! on the belief that our food system is broken due to poor government policies that primarily favor multinational food, seed and chemical corporations over the health of people and family farmers and that the only way to solve these problems is to educate, motivate and organize everyday people to be actively engaged in being a part of the solution. Dave Murphy’s insights into this harmful relationship between corporate lobbying and government collusion was evident when he reframed the debate that was taking place in DC this past spring over what Congress, doing the bidding of Monsanto, called “The Farmer Assurance Program”, a controversial “rider” that effectively bars federal courts from being able to halt the sale or planting of controversial genetically engineered seeds, despite the potential negative health or environmental issues, while these crops are under judicial review. In order to combat the deceptive spin that members of Congress were placing on this dangerous rider by calling it the Farmer Assurance Program, Dave insisted that the rider must be properly named when this issue first arose in June, 2012 and he coined the phrase the “Monsanto Protection Act”, which effectively galvanized a movement against this outrageous corporate loophole. By bringing the attention of this harmful piece of legislation to the American public, Congress and the media through thoughtful, swift and decisive action, the Monsanto Protection Act was successfully removed from the budgetary spending bill September 30, 2013. The phrase, “Monsanto Protection Act” has been printed, discussed and referred to in every major media market in America and around the world. The impact of this simple phrase, which became a rallying cry for the food movement, cannot be calculated or measured. By reframing the issue so that everyone understood the corruption that takes place in U.S. government policy to subvert the democratic process and shift it so that it lines the pockets of seed and chemical companies, Dave managed to bring enough weight to bear through leveraging the Internet, media and the power of grassroots action. A U.S. senator was even forced to apologize publicly for this embarrassment and promised to never again to allow such a dangerous piece of legislation to pass while she was in office. This was a monumental and historic moment for not only the growing food movement but the entire grassroots action community at large.

    • How the nominee exhibited respect

      Although the issue of collusion – and some would even point to corruption – within our U.S. government between multinational food and agricultural corporations and elected and regulatory officials is a serious and often times infuriating issue, Dave Murphy has continued to focus on direct action maintaining a culture of respect that honors the democratic institutions and Food Democracy Now! members by encouraging interactions that are respectful of members of Congress and the administration, that additionally fosters more effective action. Since the “repeal” of the Monsanto Protection Act, Dave has received numerous acknowledgements from leaders within the food and sustainable agriculture community for his work in bringing to the forefront the issue of collusion in our U.S. government between multinational food and agricultural corporations and elected and regulatory officials by reframing and taking bold action on this issue. In doing so in a firm, but respectful manner he not only leads Food Democracy Now! to challenge those in a position of power, but manages to change the conversation on food and ag that creates dynamic change.

    • How the nominee exhibited courage

      When many in the food movement thought it was impossible to stop the Monsanto Protection Act, Dave Murphy refused to give up. Although the odds were small against stopping a “must pass” spending bill, Dave believed that it was possible through due process of law and that it was vitally important to continue to fight it even after it was signed by the president. Rather than issue a press release, Dave issued a radical call to action, writing 6 grassroots action alerts in 9 days to remind people that their individual voice mattered most when elected officials were making a fundamentally flawed decision that put corporate interests above those of people and the environment. From a laptop in Iowa, Dave Murphy led the charge to both stop and repeal the Monsanto Protection Act. By March 26, when President Obama signed HR 933, the continuing resolution containing the controversial rider, more than 300,000 people from around the world signed a petition asking for the Monsanto Protection Act to be repealed. Ultimately more than 600,000 signatures and 150,000 phone calls were placed to Congress and the White House in a 6-month period.

    • How the nominee exhibited excellence

      Dave saw the urgency and opportunity to bring the awareness on this issue to the forefront of Food Democracy Now! members. Food Democracy Now! told its supporters that if they helped reach 200,000 signatures, the Food Democracy Now! Team (Dave and Lisa) would travel to DC to deliver the comments personally to the White House. Food Democracy Now! members responded and the result was that the petition to stop the Monsanto Protection Act reached 300,000 signatures in a matter of days. Ultimately, Food Democracy Now! generated more than 600,000 actions in a six month period, and the outrage over the Monsanto Protection Act helped inspire activists around the world to launch the single largest global action against a single corporation.

    • Additional Comments

      During this time, Dave Murphy’s leadership at Food Democracy Now! has helped grow the movement to label genetically engineered foods by releasing an exclusive 2007 video of then candidate Barack Obama promising to label GMOs, joining a federal lawsuit against Monsanto to protect organic farmers from contamination, served as the co-chair of Prop 37 – a ballot initiative to label GMOs in California, helped pass 2 GMO labeling bills this year in Connecticut and Maine and raised $200,000 for the recent fight for the I-522 GMO Labeling initiative in Washington state. Since 2008, Dave Murphy has led Food Democracy Now! in taking direct action against some of the largest, most powerful companies on the planet, including Monsanto, in an effort to raise the public profile of this multinational corporation that has brought in the world DDT, PCB’s, and Agent Orange, rBGH and genetically engineered seeds. In the past five years, Food Democracy Now! has grown from a conversation between four friends into a grassroots movement of more than 650,000 farmers and citizens dedicated to reforming food, agriculture and environmental policy.

  • Nominee’s Personal Statement

    • I’m honored to be nominated by organic farmer Jim Gerritsen, a pioneer in the organic movement and lead plaintiff in the OSGATA et al vs. Monsanto lawsuit to challenge Monsanto’s patents. We started Food Democracy Now! in an effort to protect farmers like Jim and our food supply from corporations like Monsanto and make sure that the story of America’s family farmers reached beyond the fields of rural America. Organizing is a team sport and I believe our greatest strength in renewing America is by standing together to make sure the voice of everyday people is heard loud and clear in Washington and beyond.
  • Submitted By Jim Gerritsen

    • Relationship to Nominee: Colleague/Co-plaintiff: OSGATA v. Monsanto lawsuit


Author: ohnwentsya

Be the change you wish to see, let's co-create the win-win future we know is possible together!

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