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General News    H3'ed 6/2/11

Family Farmers Amplify Legal Complaint Against Monsanto's GMOs

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June 1, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:  Daniel B. Ravicher
212-461-1902     

Mark A. Kastel                    
608-625-2042



 

Biotechnology Giant Fails to Provide Binding Legal Protection; Farmers Threatened by Contamination from Genetically Modified Organisms

 

http://www.cornucopia.org/2011/05/family-farmers-amplify-legal-complaint-against-monsantos-gmos/

NEW YORK :  New threats by Monsanto have led to the filing of an amended complaint by the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) in its suit on behalf of family farmers, seed businesses, and organic agricultural organizations challenging Monsanto's patents on genetically modified seed.

 "Our clients don't want a fight with Monsanto, they merely want to be protected from the threat that they will be contaminated by Monsanto's genetically modified seed and then accused of patent infringement," said PUBPAT Executive Director Daniel B. Ravicher.  "We asked Monsanto to give our clients reassurances they wouldn't do such a thing, and in response Monsanto chose to instead reiterate the same implicit threat to organic agriculture that it has made in the past."

 Over the years Monsanto has sued farmers alleging they have stolen the corporation's intellectual property by saving their proprietary seed rather than purchasing new seed each year that would include a "technology fee."  Because pollen, and genetics, can be spread through the wind, or by insects, farmers are vulnerable to having their crops contaminated and then subsequently being sued by Monsanto.

 Soon after the March filing of the lawsuit, Monsanto issued a statement saying that they would not assert their patents against farmers who suffer "trace" amounts of transgenic contamination.  In response, and in the hope that the matter could be resolved out of court, PUBPAT attorneys wrote Monsanto's attorneys asking the company to make its promise legally binding.

 The biotechnology giant responded by hiring former solicitor general, Seth P. Waxman, a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of WilmerHale. Waxman completely rejected PUBPAT's simple request and instead confirmed that Monsanto may indeed make claims of patent infringement against organic farmers whose fields become contaminated by Monsanto's genetically modified seed. (Copies of both the letter written by PUBPAT to Monsanto and the response letter by Waxman can be found at:http://www.pubpat.org/assets/files/seed/OSGATA-v-Monsanto-Complaint.pdf).

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