Published on March 30th, 2011 | by Lyra & Jeremy Bloom6
Organic Farm Group Sues Monsanto, Seeking Protection From GMO Contamination
It’s a preemptive suit, designed to ensure that Monsanto can’t sue the farmers and seed dealers once the inevitable happens and genetically modified (GMO) pollen contaminates their crops.
When it announced that it was allowing nearly unrestricted planting of Montanto’s GMO alfalfa back in January, the USDA said that while a little contamination was likely to happen, it was not a big deal.
Pollen from GMO crops could easily blow into fields of standard or organic crops, but the USDA said it was nothing to worry about.
There’s just one problem with that theory. GMO pollen isn’t just a minor contaminant. GMO pollen is the patented intellectual property of the Monsanto Corporation.
And Monsanto has been very, very aggressive over the past decade about protecting its intellectual property, sending private investigators out to sample farmers fields, and suing whenever they have found their patented genes being “pirated” by farmers who weren’t licensed to grow them.
Monsanto maintained it didn’t matter if the genes blew into the farmers fields; it didn’t matter if the farmer didn’t WANT Monsanto’s damned GMO genes. Monsanto would sue for patent infringement, and won damages in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
With that kind of track record, PUBPAT is attempting to restructure the playing field. Rather than waiting for Monsanto to sue farmers (even when the farmers win, the court costs are devastating), they’re taking the fight to the source.
“This case asks whether Monsanto has the right to sue organic farmers for patent infringement if Monsanto’s transgenic seed should land on their property,” said Dan Ravicher, executive director of The Public Patent Foundation, in a statement.
“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.”
Monsanto called the lawsuit misleading and a “publicity stunt” and said it has never sued and has committed to never suing farmers over the inadvertent presence of biotechnology traits in their fields.
That is simply not true; there have been hundreds of cases (we’ll document this in a follow-up article that’s currently being prepared).
It’s also calling into question the legitimacy of Monsanto’s patents on genes.
-> Next Page: Full list of plaintiffs and some of their comments
More on Monsanto and GMOs:
- The Trouble with Monsanto and GMO – David Suzuki spells it out
- Why Genetic Engineering Is Dangerous
- Scientist urges USDA to rescind approval of Monsanto’s GMO alfalfa
- Genetically Modified Foods Causing Animal Miscarriages, but Who Cares?
- Monsanto blocks research on GMO safety, harasses scientists
- An alfalfa farmer explains why he sued Monsanto
- Monsanto employees in the halls of government
- Did the White House pressure USDA to approve GMO alfalfa?
- End of Organics? Monsanto’s GMO Alfalfa Approved
- Too Much of a Bad Thing: Monsanto Did NOT Buy Blackwater