“Occupiers Take to the Farm” written written by Azeen Ghorayshi; published by Mother Jones on May 16, 2012: “The land in question has a long and convoluted history. The university purchased the Gill Tract from the Gill Family in 1928 to use for its agricultural research. Since then, it has parceled out and sold more than 90 percent of the original 104 acres. The movement to turn the Gill Tract into a center for sustainable urban agriculture dates back more than 15 years. The first proposal, drafted in 1997 by a coalition of more than 30 non-profits and community organizations in the Bay, asked that the UC enter into a community partnership to create the nation’s first center on urban agriculture and sustainable food systems as a response to issues of ‘food security, economic development, poverty alleviation, urban blight, waste recycling and environmental preservation.’ Since then, many of these issues have moved from the cultural fringe into the limelight. And yet, the movement to turn the Gill Tract into a community space has been repeatedly shut down by the university…”
“Unclean Hands at the Gill Tract?” written by Darwin Bondgraham; published by the East Bay Express on May 16, 2012: “But are the GMO-free claims of UC’s researchers true? Is research at the Gill Tract by UC’s scientists purely a public service, unconnected to corporate profits?…A survey of biotechnology patents that cite the research of these outspoken scientists shows that some of their research has, in fact, resulted in the production of GMO technologies. While UC’s researchers might not be conducting GMO trials at the Tract directly for Big Agribusiness, some of their findings have been heavily cited by private sector researchers who are developing transgenic crops for their corporate employers. In fact, [Damon] Lisch, the most outspoken researcher opposed to the Gill Tract occupation, is a co-inventor of a patent that is directly applicable to GMO research.
“Researcher [George] Chuck’s insistence that his work at the Gill Tract isn’t funded by industry might be technically true, but his research has also been patented and marketed, not by UC, but by a private biotechnology company called DNA Plant Technology Corporation, which was headquartered on San Pablo Avenue in North Oakland during the 1990s, giving researchers physical access to UC’s resources, including the Plant Gene Expression Center in Albany. DNA Plant Technology’s intellectual property holdings were bought by the Bionova Holding Corporation in the mid-1990s. Bionova markets numerous GMO plant varieties, and has ‘major technology relationships’ with Monsanto and UC, according to the company’s website.
“Many other UC patents are routinely licensed by biotech companies to develop GMO crops, like the Endless Summer Tomato, another product of DNA Plant Technology. Such deals are lucrative for UC. The university had 627 active plant licensing contracts with industry at the end of last year. More than a few of these were developed from research conducted at the Plant Gene Expression Center. [Researcher Sarah] Hake is the center’s director…”
“Food Authors, Writers and Academics Urge UC Berkeley to ‘Embrace the Gill Tract Farm, Not Police it’”; published by the Fog City Journal on May 15, 2012: “Editor’s Note: The Gill Tract, a 10-acre plot of Class-1 agricultural land located in the City of Albany and owned by UC Berkeley, was occupied by dozens of food security activists on Earth Day (April 22) who immediately went to work to transform the uncultivated plot into an organic food-producing urban farm. After negotiations between Occupy The Farm and UC Berkeley over the shared use of the land failed, UC Berkeley filed charges against several occupying farmers and authorized the removal by force of all the activists in a pre-dawn raid on Monday.
“More than 30 of America’s leading food writers and activists – including luminaries Bill McKibben and Frances Moore Lappé – today released the following statement in support of Occupy the Farm at the Gill Tract in Albany, California…”
“Occupy the Farm Highlights Issue of Food Sovereignty” written by Alison Kilkenny; published by The Nation on May 10, 2012: “These are the last acres of Class One soil left in the urbanized East Bay. Ninety percent of the original land has been paved over and developed, irreversibly contaminating the land…The [Occupy the Farm] group goes on to detail how students, professors and the community have fought for decades to save the land from development so they could use it for sustainable agriculture, but UC Berkeley currently administers the land and has it slated for rezoning and redevelopment, i.e., building supermarkets (ironically, a Whole Foods), parking lots, apartments etc. in 2013. Furthermore, the university uses the land to research corn genetics, which OTF claims can be done anywhere, as opposed to this unique site…”
“Police-Occupy Stand Off at the Gill Tract Farmland in SF Bay Area” written by Jeff Conant; published by the Alternet on May 10, 2012: ”Accompanying Professor [Miguel] Altieri at the Gill Tract was Claudia Carr, Associate Professor of International Agricultural Development in the Environmental Science, Policy and Management program within the College of Natural Resources. Like Altieri, Carr supports the Gill Tract Farmers Collective…’I think the bottom line here is that what these people have accomplished, with precious urban land, is to raise the question of development: what type of development, toward what, and for whom? That’s what they intended to do and that’s what they’ve done. This will have a lasting influence on the community,’ she said. ‘This will not be forgotten.’…I asked Altieri what he thinks the university will do with the land if it manages to dislodge the occupation…’They’ll take it over and do what they want,’ he said…Carr agrees: ‘The university’s line about managing this as a multi-stakeholder site is disingenuous,’ the professor said. ‘Once they transferred the land to Capital Projects, there’s no getting it back.’”
“Occupy the Farm: Democracy for Land Grant Universities?” written by Eric Holt Gimenez; published by The Huffington Post on May 8, 2012: “The City of Albany, where the site is located, held a tumultuous council meeting. UC Berkeley professors Jeffrey Romm, Claudia Carr and Miguel Altieri all entreated their employer to reconsider the public role of the research station. Over ten years ago, the professors, along with long-time urban farmer and community food security advocate Shyaam Shabaka of nearby Richmond, were part of BACUA, the original community-researcher proposal to get the University to focus the Gill Tract station on sustainable, urban agriculture. Unfortunately, the University consistently turned a deaf ear, directing research towards more profitable products and pushing forward with plans to sell off the Gill Tract.
“Why has the University of California stonewalled calls for community-based, urban agriculture at the site? As it happens, the Gill Tract occupation actually threatens another massive, more lucrative, occupation going on for some time on public land grant universities…”
“Gill Tract occupation’s mission mirrors state public policy goals“; op-ed by UC Professor Miguel Altieri and Claudia Carr published by the Daily Californian on May 1, 2012: “To many people, the actions taken by the farm advocates are consistent with the university’s education and public mission as a land grant institution with a Cooperative Extension function (the latter established in the Smith-Lever Act of 1914) to promote community involvement and initiatives in agriculture. Their actions are also consistent with California public policy, as set forth in Section 815 of the Civil Code, to preserve and protect open space, particularly agricultural land that has historical significance — such as the Gill Tract…”
“Occupy v. Whole Foods? Activists Take Over Land Slated for Development and Start a Farm” written by Jeff Conant; published by the Alternet on April 24, 2012: “The Gill Tract, an agricultural research plot owned by UC Berkeley, is the last five acres of Class 1 soil in the East Bay. Generations of UC researchers have farmed here; now UCB Capital Projects, which holds the title to the land, has slated it for rezoning in 2013. Ironically, the activists say the company most likely to buy it up for development is Whole Foods Corporation. Hence the Occupiers’ slogan: ‘Whole food, not Whole Foods.’
“The organizers say the UC-owned Gill tract is significant not only because it is the last and best agricultural land in the East Bay, but because the struggle over this land is tied to the struggle to keep the public university serving the public interest. Over the last decade, through investments by Novartis, Syngenta, BP and other corporations, the University of California has become increasingly captured by private interests, which have come to control the research agenda and the land use policy. “