Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Farmers And Seed Producers Launch Preemptive Strike Against Monsanto

Farmers And Seed Producers Launch Preemptive Strike Against Monsanto

On behalf of 60 family farmers, seed businesses and organic agricultural organizations, the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) filed suit today against Monsanto Company challenging the chemical giant’s patents on genetically modified seed. The organic plaintiffs were forced to sue preemptively to protect themselves from being accused of patent infringement should their crops ever become contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically modified seed.

Monsanto has sued farmers in the United States and Canada, in the past, when there are patented genetic material has inadvertently contaminated their crops.
A copy of the lawsuit can be found at:

The case, Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association, et al. v. Monsanto, was filed in federal district court in Manhattan and assigned to Judge Naomi Buchwald. Plaintiffs in the suit represent a broad array of family farmers, small businesses and organizations from within the organic agriculture community who are increasingly threatened by genetically modified seed contamination despite using their best efforts to avoid it. The plaintiff organizations have over 270,000 members, including thousands of certified organic family farmers.

“This case asks whether Monsanto has the right to sue organic farmers for patent infringement if Monsanto’s transgenic seed or pollen should land on their property,” said Dan Ravicher, PUBPAT’s Executive Director. “It seems quite perverse that an organic farmer contaminated by transgenic seed could be accused of patent infringement, but Monsanto has made such accusations before and is notorious for having sued hundreds of farmers for patent infringement, so we had to act to protect the interests of our clients.”

Once released into the environment, genetically modified seed can contaminate and destroy organic seed for the same crop. For example, soon after Monsanto introduced genetically modified seed for canola, organic canola became virtually impossible to grow as a result of contamination.

Organic corn, soybeans, cotton, sugar beets and alfalfa also face the same fate, as Monsanto has released genetically modified seed for each of those crops as well.

Monsanto is currently developing genetically modified seed for many other crops, thus putting the future of all food, and indeed all agriculture, at stake.

“Monsanto’s threats and abuse of family farmers stops here. Monsanto’s genetic contamination of organic seed and organic crops ends now,” stated Jim Gerritsen, a family farmer in Maine who raises organic seed and is President of lead plaintiff Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association. “Americans have the right to choice in the marketplace – to decide what kind of food they will feed their families.”

“Family-scale farmers desperately need the judiciary branch of our government to balance the power Monsanto is able to wield in the marketplace and in the courts,” said Mark A. Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst for The Cornucopia Institute, one of the plaintiffs. “Monsanto, and the biotechnology industry, have made great investments in our executive and legislative branches through campaign contributions and powerful lobbyists in Washington.”

In the case, PUBPAT is asking Judge Buchwald to declare that if organic farmers are ever contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically modified seed, they need not fear also being accused of patent infringement. One reason justifying this result is that Monsanto’s patents on genetically modified seed are invalid because they don’t meet the “usefulness” requirement of patent law, according to PUBPAT’s Ravicher, the plaintiffs’ lead attorney in the case.

“Evidence cited by PUBPAT in its opening filing today proves that genetically modified seed has negative economic and health effects, while the promised benefits of genetically modified seed – increased production and decreased herbicide use – are false,” added Ravicher who is also a Lecturer of Law at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York.

Ravicher continued, “Some say transgenic seed can coexist with organic seed, but history tells us that’s not possible, and it’s actually in Monsanto’s financial interest to eliminate organic seed so that they can have a total monopoly over our food supply,” said Ravicher. “Monsanto is the same chemical company that previously brought us Agent Orange, DDT, PCB’s and other toxins, which they said were safe, but we know are not. Now Monsanto says transgenic seed is safe, but evidence clearly shows it is not.”


Yes, a preemptive lawsuit. Keep them coming. Monsanto has done all in its power as have other biotech seed companies (like Bayer) to cover their a***s for THEIR contamination of organic crops by hiding behind fake terms like "substantial equivalence" and their patenting of these organisms, which in my view actually negates substantial equivalence. Why would you need to patent a seed that you say is the same as all others?

It is good to see more and more farmers waking up to the deception and scheme perpetrated by this company in using organic farmers to make profit while claiming to be their friend. They patent the seeds, don't allow farmers to save them, raise the price of them and then sue the farmer for what the wind does. It is absurd and criminal. I am really hoping to see a lawsuit that defies their bogus substantial equivalence claim because if we can work to get that label taken away then that is the key to labelling, and perhaps even banning these organisms in our food.

Farmers of America: Monsanto Is NOT your friend. We need a seed satyagraha in America. We can march on Dc until we are blue but if you continue to be mesmerized by their smoke and mirrors show, it won't matter. We need you to stand up with us for biodiversity, for the health of this planet, for agriculture as we know it and for all of our children and their health.

Tear up your contracts and grow your own seed, SAVE your seed, work YOUR land, save your soil and refuse to be part of the murky monoculture world of a company that would in the past poison you with war chemicals while now smiling at you as you buy those same chemicals to spray on your food to make them profit.

It is insidious, and it is time to end it.

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