Monsanto in Court: What’s the Big Deal?

protest signs: save our farmers, save our food, no GMOs!Organic Farmers vs. Monsanto: GMO Contamination

Along with a hideous corporate conduct record regarding toxic pollution, Monsanto has proven repeatedly that it is anything but friendly to the family farmer:

Between 1997 and 2010, Monsanto admits to filing 144 lawsuits against America’s family farmers, while settling another 700 out of court for undisclosed amounts. Due to these aggressive lawsuits, Monsanto has created an atmosphere of fear in rural America and driven dozens of farmers into bankruptcy.

On January 31, 2012, oral arguments begin in a landmark case filed against Monsanto by 270,000 individuals represented by the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association. The lawsuit seeks protection for organic farmers whose crops are contaminated by unwanted GM seeds or pollen. According to the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy,

Farmers are being sued for having GMOs on their property that they did not buy, do not want, will not use and cannot sell,” says North Dakota farmer, Tom Wiley. “If I contaminate my neighbor’s property, I am held responsible. Farmers need legal protections to ensure that if the biotech industry contaminates their crops with GMOs, the industry is held responsible.

After decades of riding roughshod over the American farming community, Monsanto now stands to be made accountable for some of the problems GE contamination causes small-scale and organic farmers. Naturally, they are maneuvering like crazy to avoid anything of the sort, and hope to have the case dismissed. So on January 31, a district court judge will begin hearing arguments for and against Monsanto’s motion to dismiss, marking what could be real turning point (one way or another) for the rights of U.S. farmers and consumers. Get involvedif you think organic farmers deserve legal protection from Monsanto’s overly-aggressive patent litigation, and if you value consumers’ rights to choose organic food.

Truth vs. PR Fiction: Let Actions Speak Louder 

Despite decades of problem behavior, Monsanto continues to thrive. So far, their PR guys are earning their keep: profits just keep on climbing. These court cases against Monsanto are a big deal for consumers, because they provide a better view of this company than any billboard or bus-bench ad or dreamy soft-focus TV commercial ever will. An informed consumer base is the only solution– watch these cases closely, and see if Monsanto’s actions match their spin!  If you look past the advertising, you won’t want this company anywhere near your food supply.

DDT, Agent Orange, GMO-- what next, Monsanto?For a more in-depth (read: more disturbing) look at Monsanto’s approach to growing our food — meanwhile abusing farmers, providing food of questionable safety, contaminating the environment with toxic chemistry, and devastating agricultural communities around the world — watch The World According to Monsanto. It’ll make you angry; but

ignorance is only bliss until it bites you in the bottom

like these court cases, it’s definitely well worth watching!

Image credit: Creative Commons photos by Avesha Michael, bionicteaching, Alexis Baden-Mayer, and MillionsAgainstMonsanto.

  1. Roni

    I agree that “an informed consumer base is the only solution” -so thanks for covering this. Monsanto is being sued by India’s national diversity authority for violating biodiversity protection laws; the case illuminates Monsanto’s practice of bribing officials in order to circumvent environmental restrictions. They (and the other big GMO players like Dupont, Bayer and Dow) are doing damage in the name of profits that cannot be undone.

    1. Tanya Sitton

      I’ve heard some arguments for some biotech applications that might be a ‘maybe’, given best possible management practices; but anything involving Monsanto in any way automatically gets a resounding ‘NO!!!!’, imo… they’re just too completely consistent in their behavior– and I definitely don’t mean that as a compliment!

      Thanks for your comment– I knew they had problems in India, but wasn’t aware of that case. Maybe somehow someone somewhere will find a way to extract some small trace of accountability from them, for some small part of the trouble they cause the world. Here’s hopin’, right?!

      Thanks again for the input! :-)

      1. Dee Esseff

        One implication of this growing push-back in the US is certainly that Monsanto is focusing more and more on other parts of the world where regulatory regimes (where they exist at all) are even more inadequate that the lame one we have in the States. India is one example, and Mexico is on its way to being another.

        1. Tanya Sitton

          Yep — I think it’s interesting how some of those ‘markets’ (aka people, farmers, and communities) are doing better than others at fending them off… blatantly problematic corporate ethics abound, in the active pushing of products known to cause problems for third world farmers (google ‘india Bt suicide’ or ‘Roundup resistant weeds’ or ‘Africa Monsanto biodiversity’)… Shocking that Monsanto would be so badly behaved! (<–sarcasm)

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