Timon Singh

Farmers Suing Over Organic Crops Contaminated by Monsanto Seeds

by , 04/04/11
filed under: Design for Health

gm modified crops, organic farmers, Monsanto gm crops, organic crops, sourcewatch, gm seeds, organic crop destruction, containated crops, monsanto lawsuit

Biotech giant Monsanto is being preemeptively sued by a group of organic farmers who claim they are going to court to protect themselves from legal action by the corporation. The farmers claim that Mosanto seeds contaminated their organic crops and have launched the lawsuit to prevent the company from accusing them of patent infrigement for use of the patented, genetically modified seed. Confused? Well it seems that under current law, Monsanto is legally entitled to sue if Monsanto seeds are found in a farm for which they were not purchased – even if the seeds drifted over accidentally or by natural cross-pollination.

gm modified crops, organic farmers, Monsanto gm crops, organic crops, sourcewatch, gm seeds, organic crop destruction, containated crops, monsanto lawsuit

Image © Michael Oh

As this is hardly fair for the farmers, they have filed a suit under the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) on behalf of 60 farmers, seed businesses and organic agriculture organizations, representing some 270,000 members. Monsanto is playing it cool, calling the legal action a publicity stunt in a company blog. They state that the allegations  are “false, misleading and deceptive.” The blog states that “It has never been, nor will it be Monsanto policy to exercise its patent rights where trace amounts of our patented seed or traits are present in farmer’s fields as a result of inadvertent means.”

However Sourcewatch has claimed that the company has an “annual budget of $10 million and a staff of 75 devoted solely to investigating and prosecuting farmers” and there are multiple cases of harassment against farmers over alleged unauthorized use of its seed products.

PUBPAT‘s Executive Director Dan Ravicher noted, “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.”

“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.”

The stage is now set for an epic legal battle between the farmers and Monsanto. While it is not clear who is in the right or wrong, the seeds of intrigue have been planted.

+ Monsanto

Via Treehugger

Lead Image © antaean

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3 Comments

  1. grlnamedsue April 7, 2011 at 2:53 am

    What Monsanto is doing is fraud. If they were so concerned about their patented product being “stolen” by farmers, they would try harder to keep their product contained. Instead, nature runs it’s course and the genetics spread, just like any other plant, into neighboring fields and so on. This is exactly what monsanto wants to happen under the definition of theri patent, as this gives them monopoly over all crop production. There’s no econimically feasible way to stop mother nature from happening, so by accusing farmers of infringing upon their patent, is a far fetched conclusion that is being drawn.

  2. Ohiofarmgirl April 6, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    Monsanto’s claim of innocence is belied by the well documented case of the Canadian canola farmer whose fields were contaminated… he fought in court until he was bankrupt. And the less well documented case of the 40 year seed ‘cleaning’ business (runs machinery that prepares farmers’ saved seed for planting) that was destroyed by Monsanto simply because it made it possible for farmers to save seed from year to year instead of buying new seed each year.
    PUBPAT is not suing Monsanto for damages… it is petitioning for a protective order to prevent Monsanto from bullying those who choose not to use their products out of business.

  3. lazyreader April 5, 2011 at 8:26 am

    In order to prove their claims wouldn’t they have to genetically test each and every single plant to prove it’s not from their stock. And doing that is some very unsatisfying work. Which only proves a point. Organic food is too heavily labor intensive.

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