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Farmers File Suit Against Monsanto

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The following is a press release from MOFGA, the Maine Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association.  MOFGA is an organization that advocates for organic growers in the state of Maine.  The organization holds several events to help educate the public regarding organic and sustainable food production.  For example, in September, the organization sponsors the Common Ground Fair on the campus of Unity College in Unity Maine that often draws 60,000 people.   This fair holds various workshops, while also allowing people to become more educated regarding local and organic foods.  MOFGA also certifies and sells seeds which helps to reduce a gardner's or a farmer's fear of receiving seeds that are contaminated by Monsanto's genetically engineered seeds. 

WASHINGTON, D.C. --July 5, 2012 -- Seventy-five family farmers, seed businesses, and agricultural organizations representing over 300,000 individuals and 4,500 farms filed a brief today with the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington D.C. asking the appellate court to reverse a lower court's decision from February dismissing their protective legal action against agricultural giant Monsanto's patents on genetically engineered seed.

The plaintiffs brought the pre-emptive case against Monsanto in March 2011 in the Southern District of New York and specifically seek to defend themselves from nearly two dozen of Monsanto's most aggressively asserted patents on GMO seed. They were forced to act pre-emptively to protect themselves from Monsanto's abusive lawsuits, fearing that if GMO seed contaminates their property despite their efforts to prevent such contamination, Monsanto will sue them for patent infringement .

"It's time to end Monsanto's scorched earth legal campaign of threats and intimidation against America's farmers. Family farmers should be protected by the courts against the unwanted genetic contamination of their crops," said Dave Murphy, founder and executive director of Food Democracy Now! , a grassroots community of more than 300,000 farmers and citizens dedicated to reforming food and agriculture, that is co-plaintiff in the suit.

Farmer Support.   The people are behind Family Farmers versus Monsanto.   "We have a right to farm the way we choose," said Maine organic seed farmer Jim Gerritsen, President of lead plaintiff Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA). "Yet Monsanto is unwilling to control their GMO pollution and they refuse to sign a binding covenant not-to-sue our family farmers for patent infringement should their seed contaminate our crops. Monsanto's publicized 'Commitment' promising that they would not sue farmers was described by Monsanto's own lawyers as being 'vague.' The law says we deserve protection under the Declaratory Judgment Act. We will continue to pursue our right to farm, and the right of our customers to have access to good clean food and seed."

In an attempt to sidestep the challenge, Monsanto moved to have the case dismissed, saying that the plaintiffs' concerns were unrealistic. In February 2012, the district court took Monsanto's side and dismissed the case, ridiculing the farmers in the process. Despite the fact that the plaintiffs are at risk for being contaminated by genetically modified seed and then sued for patent infringement by Monsanto, Judge Naomi Buchwald of the Southern District of New York dismissed the case because she didn't find a case worthy of adjudication, saying "it is clear that these circumstances do not amount to a substantial controversy and that there has been no injury traceable to defendants."

Every year Monsanto investigates over 500 farmers for patent infringement with their now notorious "seed police". To date, 144 farmers have had lawsuits brought against them by Monsanto without a binding contract with the multinational corporation, while another 700 farmers have been forced to settle out of court for undisclosed sums.

"Monsanto is known for bullying farmers by making baseless accusations of patent

Monsanto is known for bullying farmers by making baseless accusations of patent infringement," said attorney Dan Ravicher of the not-for-profit legal services organization Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT), which represents the plaintiffs in the suit against Monsanto known as Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association et al. v Monsanto. "They've sued and harassed many other farmers who wanted nothing to do with their genetically modified seed and now that organic and conventional farmers are fighting back, they claim they would never do such a thing without backing up their words with an enforceable promise."

Nature has determined that seed and pollen can drift great distances, in some cases as far as 10-15 miles, increasing the likelihood of contamination of organic crops with genetics from Monsanto's laboratories. These seeds and crops are referred to as "transgenic" seed that has had DNA of foreign organisms inserted into its DNA through human engineered processes. Plaintiffs use and sell non­transgenic seed, more commonly referred to as heirloom, organic, or conventional seed.

Some plaintiffs have simply stopped growing certain types of crops due to the threat of contamination. Bryce Stephens, a certified organic farmer from northwest Kansas, had to give up on trying to grow organic corn and soy once his neighbors started using Monsanto's genetically modified seed because it could easily spread onto his property and contaminate his organic crops, which would put him at risk of being sued for patent infringement by Monsanto.

In the brief filed today, the plaintiffs point out numerous errors in the district court decision that warrant reversal.

Some plaintiffs have simply stopped growing certain types of crops due to the threat of contamination. Bryce Stephens, a certified organic farmer from northwest Kansas, had to give up on trying to grow organic corn and soy once his neighbors started using Monsanto's genetically modified seed because it could easily spread onto his property and contaminate his organic crops, which would put him at risk of being sued for patent infringement by Monsanto.

Murphy went on to state, "No company should be allowed to violate the property rights of America's farmers or threaten their livelihoods through the use of frivolous patent infringement lawsuits designed to control farmers and the food supply, while protecting Monsanto's flawed seed technology and corporate profits."

 

Burl is an avid writer and publishes to OpEd News. He is author of "Sophia's Web: A Passionate Call to Heal Our Wounded Nature." As of this writing, Burl is planning to self-publish the book. Alongside his wife, Burl co-hosts an on line radio (more...)
 

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This is the classic case of the "little guy" fight... by Burl Hall on Wednesday, Jul 11, 2012 at 3:20:12 AM
This is a press release from Maine Organic Farmer'... by Burl Hall on Wednesday, Jul 11, 2012 at 3:22:46 AM
Progressives and Liberals should take this and Fra... by Kevin Tully on Wednesday, Jul 11, 2012 at 10:13:04 AM
Thanks, Burl!  Please keep us posted on devel... by Meryl Ann Butler on Wednesday, Jul 11, 2012 at 11:42:18 AM
"Monsatano" An evil corporation with an evil agen... by mrk * on Wednesday, Jul 11, 2012 at 12:25:09 PM
[Genetically modified foods] can be remarkably dan... by Daniel Geery on Wednesday, Jul 11, 2012 at 12:52:14 PM
Daniel, humans have not been modifying foods for 1... by Joan Mootry on Wednesday, Jul 11, 2012 at 2:33:28 PM
"Control oil and you control nations; control food... by Michael Rose on Wednesday, Jul 11, 2012 at 3:57:55 PM
I am trying to be educational as well. Many folks ... by Daniel Geery on Friday, Jul 20, 2012 at 5:04:25 PM
the labeling of GMO foods. Humans have been modify... by Ms Nan on Wednesday, Jul 11, 2012 at 6:58:21 PM
We cannot afford to let the good guys slip, especi... by Michael Rose on Wednesday, Jul 11, 2012 at 9:14:57 PM
Here's an evil thought - what's to stop Monsanto, ... by Lexi Mize on Wednesday, Jul 11, 2012 at 3:10:16 PM
I wuz tempted to politely flag your evility Lexi, ... by Michael Rose on Wednesday, Jul 11, 2012 at 4:25:30 PM
(Merry Hall on behalf of Burl Hall)The lead plaint... by Burl Hall on Thursday, Jul 12, 2012 at 5:25:46 AM
Norman Borlaug, the father of the "Green Revolutio... by Kevin Tully on Thursday, Jul 12, 2012 at 12:01:35 PM
Help me out here, folks. I'm about to go off on a ... by Joan Mootry on Thursday, Jul 12, 2012 at 4:29:10 PM
Joan, I appreciate your bringing up the important ... by Gary Kutcher on Thursday, Jul 12, 2012 at 6:26:30 PM
Joan and Gary, I appreciate you bringing this up.&... by Burl Hall on Thursday, Jul 12, 2012 at 8:13:07 PM
Burt, for starters you can check out this link:&nb... by Gary Kutcher on Thursday, Jul 12, 2012 at 9:43:46 PM
Burl, how serious are you about expanding your awa... by Joan Mootry on Friday, Jul 13, 2012 at 1:27:33 AM
Joan and Gary, thanks for the information.  T... by Burl Hall on Friday, Jul 13, 2012 at 3:33:58 AM
Burl,You need to know that there is no factual bas... by Jay Reynolds on Monday, Jul 16, 2012 at 10:18:43 AM
Thanks for your response, Jay.  Perhaps you a... by Burl Hall on Monday, Jul 16, 2012 at 1:47:33 PM
ANY website that includes the perjorative "DEBUNKE... by Michael Rose on Friday, Jul 20, 2012 at 7:36:32 AM
In the context of what's commonly called chemtrail... by Michael Rose on Friday, Jul 20, 2012 at 10:26:51 AM
What happened to the Land of the Free?  Monsa... by ANN ROSENBERG on Friday, Jul 13, 2012 at 7:16:23 AM
Ann, tell me more about what Europe and the UK has... by Burl Hall on Saturday, Jul 14, 2012 at 11:41:36 AM