Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Court rules organic farmers can sue conventional, GMO farmers whose pesticides ‘trespass’ and contaminate their fields
Ethan A. Huff
August 03, 2011
Precedent has now been set for organic farmers to sue biotechnology companies whose GMOs contaminate their crops
Purveyors of conventional and genetically-modified (GM) crops — and the pesticides and herbicides that accompany them — are finally getting a taste of their own legal medicine. Minnesota’s Star Tribune has reported that the Minnesota Court of Appeals recently ruled that a large organic farm surrounded by chemical-laden conventional farms can seek damages for lost crops, as well as lost profits, caused by the illegal trespassing of pesticides and herbicides on its property.
Friday, June 3, 2011
Organic farmers expand lawsuit against Monsanto
By Heidi Ledford
June 03, 2011
An ambitious lawsuit against the agricultural firm Monsanto got a little bigger this week, and a lawyer for the plaintiffs hopes that this is only the beginning.
The case was initially filed in March by the Public Patent Foundation (PubPat), a non-profit legal services organization based at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York, on behalf of 60 organic farmers and associated organizations. The farmers want assurance from Monsanto that they will not be sued for patent infringement if their farms become contaminated with the company’s genetically modified crops.
On 1 June, PubPat announced that the list of plaintiffs had grown to 83, and that the original complaint had been amended to include a recent exchange with Monsanto’s lawyers. In a letter written on behalf of Monsanto, Seth Waxman, former solicitor general under Bill Clinton and a partner at the law firm WilmerHale in Washington, DC, said Monsanto has no intention of suing the farmers for patent infringement. “Monsanto policy never has been, nor will be, to exercise its patent rights where trace amounts of its patented seed or traits are present in a farmer’s fields as a result of inadvertent means,” he wrote, echoing a statement Monsanto has also made on its website.
But rather than placating PubPat, executive director Daniel Ravicher says he saw a veiled threat in the statement’s ambiguity. Farmers whose crops contain more than a “trace” — whatever that means — of contamination are still vulnerable to action by Monsanto, he argues. Instead, Ravicher wants a legally binding declaration that Monsanto will not sue his clients for patent infringement.
Friday, April 1, 2011
“It’s a war” over GMOs
By Ken Roseboro
The Organic & Non-GMO Report
April 1, 2011
Following US Department of Agriculture approvals of genetically modified alfalfa and sugar beets, leaders of the organic industry recently met to discuss strategies to address threats posed by GM crops and USDA’s failure to address those threats.
The meeting, held at Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim in March, featured Walter Robb, co-president, Whole Foods Market, Gary Hirschberg, president, Stonyfield Farms, George Siemon, CEO, Organic Valley, Michael Funk, chairman of United Natural Foods and president of the Non-GMO Project, and Robynn Shrader, CEO, National Cooperative Grocers Association.
“This is about freedom of choice”
Gary Hirschberg spoke about the biotech industry’s influence on the US government. “The chemical companies have deep roots in all three branches of government,” he said, citing that the biotech industry has given $22.4 million to members of Congress.
Hirschberg said that “aggressive research” was needed to expose GM food risks, as well as legal efforts to limit GM crop expansion and consumer efforts to demand government action.
“This is about freedom of choice, about taking back our country,” Hirschberg said.
George Siemon described USDA’s GM crop regulations as a “complete failure.”
“USDA is releasing products without regard for other parts of agriculture,” he said.
Siemon also said that the fight over GMOs is not limited to the organic industry. “There is a much bigger community,” he said, referring to producers of conventional, non-GMO crops.
Siemon spoke about the need to develop a pure non-GMO seed supply because the largest source of GMO contamination is from tainted seed.
Organic Valley has tested its feed and found GMO levels between 0.1% and 0.2%.
Echoing Hirschberg’s comments, Siemon said, “We need to stand up for our rights.”
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
US farmers sue Monsanto over GMO patents, demand right to conventional crops
By Catherine Saez
Intellectual Property Watch
March 30, 2011
The Public Patent Foundation filed suit yesterday against Monsanto’s patents on genetically modified seeds with farmers asking to be protected against the biotechnology giant’s potential lawsuits in case of accidental contamination from plants grown with its seeds.
On behalf of 22 agricultural organisations, 12 seed businesses and 26 farms and farmers, the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) is suing the biotech company in the federal district court in Manhattan and assigned to Judge Naomi Buchwald.
The organic plaintiffs had to pre-emptively protect themselves from potential patent infringement in case of accidental contamination of their crops by genetically modified organisms (GMOs), said PUBPAT.
“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, PUBPAT’s executive director and a law professor at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York. PUBPAT is a non-profit legal services organisation based at Cardozo law school. Its stated mission is “to protect freedom in the patent system.”
“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,” he said in a press release.
According to the lawsuit, “coexistence between transgenic seed and organic seed is impossible because transgenic seed contaminates and eventually overcomes organic seeds.”
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Organic farmers sue, seek protection from Monsanto
By Carey Gillam
March 29, 2011
- Plaintiffs seek protection from Monsanto’s patent claims
- Group says contamination a given as more GMOs approved
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A consortium of U.S. organic farmers and seed dealers filed suit against global seed giant Monsanto Co. on Tuesday, in a move to protect themselves from what they see as a growing threat in the company’s arsenal of genetically modified crops.
The Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) filed the suit on behalf of more than 50 organizations challenging the agricultural giant’s patents on its genetically modified seeds. The group is seeking a ruling that would prohibit Monsanto from suing the farmers or dealers if their organic seed becomes contaminated with Monsanto’s patented biotech seed germplasm.
Monsanto is known for its zealous defense of its patents on a range of genetically altered crops. Its patented ‘Roundup Ready’ soybeans, corn and cotton are favorites of U.S. farmers because of their ability to withstand herbicide treatments.
But Monsanto has filed scores of lawsuits and won judgments against farmers they claimed made use of their seed without paying required royalties.
Many farmers have claimed that their fields were inadvertently contaminated without their knowledge, and the issue has been a topic of concern for not only farmers, but also companies that clean and handle seed.