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02/28/2012 12:17 PM     print story email story  

Hard to Believe: Monsanto Won News

In early February, we reported that a Federal District Court judge agreed to hear oral arguments for a landmark lawsuit - Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) et al. v. Monsanto. 

Over 300,000 people including farmers, seed growers and agricultural organizations participated in the case against Monsanto.

The lawsuit seeks to invalidate Monsanto's patents on genetically modified (GMO) seeds and to prohibit the company from suing those whose crops become genetically contaminated because they drift through the air.

Last Friday, Judge Naomi Buchwald ruled in favor of Monsanto by dismissing the case.

Daniel Ravicher, lead attorney for the 81 plaintiffs represented in the lawsuit, says, "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, 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 says 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."

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," says Maine organic seed farmer Jim Gerritsen, President of the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, the lead plaintiff. 

"We reject as naïve 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,"  he says.

"Monsanto is the big biotechnology bully and has used the courts, for years, to intimidate farmers," says Mark 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."

Today food justice advocates will continue resisting corporate control of the food system with a global day of action called Occupy Our Food Supply.

Reader Comments (6)


Date Posted:
02/28/12 06:43 PM

Hey folks - learn some basic crop biology so as to better understand this. Canola and soya are SELF pollinated crops - i.e. NO pollen drift. No one is planting traited (GMO) seed by accident when the save and re-palnt seed. Corn is cross pollinated and pollen wil move. HOWEVER corn is planted as a hybrid crop and new seed must be purchased each year. Farmers being prosecuted are stealing. Would Sony allow you to copy CD's or DVD's adn sell them by the hundreds? And do not get all teary eyed over this being seeds. They are plenty off non-GMO seed sources. It is just that they are not as productive. Imagine that.

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FADUTA is wrong

Date Posted:
02/28/12 09:46 PM

FADUTA ... I think you need to get your facts straight. Just because a plant CAN self pollinate, doesn't mean that it also can't cross pollinate. There is pollen drift from wind and honey bees. Instead of monsanto being able to sue these nearby farmers for stealing their genetically modified seeds, they should be sued for contaminating the non-genetically modified crops of nearby farmers.

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FADUTA is very wrong

Date Posted:
02/29/12 06:17 PM

Ask the canadian farmer who was sued by Monsanto after GMO canola seeds blew out of trucks passing on adjacent road and contaminated his field. The threat of being sued and driven to bankruptcy trying to fight the biotech bullies is REAL and well documented. The judge in this case blew it. Or she was corrupt.

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Date Posted:
07/10/12 12:21 PM

.I feel we have to group together for a mass reasitsnce something like the civil rights movement. We can't continue to let them steamroll us into submission.Thanks for being an independant thinker and not be swayed by the industry guys. By the way, why couldn't Greenpeace volunteers, or other volunteers from the organic movement state their cases in these meetings to balance out their views. Is there a need for those kind of folks?All the best to you

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Deborah Anderson

Date Posted:
05/11/13 08:01 PM

Did the Court not consider the drift of seed from one farm to another "an act of God?" Most environmental laws accept "an Act of God, an act of war, and omission of a third party" as no fault. If the court does not allow that as a defense, why can't the sustainability farmer sue the farm where the drift originated due to pollution of his farm and seed?

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"FADUTA is very wrong" is very wrong.

Date Posted:
10/10/13 02:19 PM

The Canadian farmer noticed that the canola on the side of the road was not killed when routine Roundoup spraying was done and realised it was spilled Monsanto seed. He wondered how much was in his field so he sprayed a portion of his field near the road with Roundup and found that a large proportion was the Roundup resistant Monsanto canola. All of this was fine and Monsanto did not have a problem with it. The next part is what Monsanto had a problem with - the farmer harvested the seed from the Monsanto canola and planted his field with it the next season. That's why he was sued.

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