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
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