January 7, 2014
Monsanto would have you believe that their seeds cause no risk to modern agriculture, that they are simply trying to provide the best products to feed the world. But, both in the lab and in the fields, we’ve seen this to be far from true. Worse, GMOs are contaminating conventional fields, and leaving some farmers with no choice as to what they grow. This has led to numerous farmers joining forces, filing lawsuits against Monsanto to protect themselves.
Recently, the Public Patent Foundation filed a brief with the high court of the land in an effort to protect these farmers. The case, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) vs. Monsanto, was thrown off track earlier this year by an Appellate Court ruling in favor of the seed giant. Now, organic and conventional family farmers are hoping the Supreme Court will grant them the right to protect their crops and their livelihood from contamination and legal action by Monsanto.
The OSGATA is not only concerned about what might happen to their crops if they are contaminated with GM pollen from neighboring Monsanto fields, but whether the corporation will sue them for patent infringement. The company says it won’t. But, they’ve done it before.
“As a seed grower, who has spent the past 37 years of my life protecting and maintaining the integrity of my seed stock to provide clean, wholesome food to my customers, I find it unconscionable that Monsanto can contaminate mine or my neighbors’ crops and not only get away with it, but potentially sue us for patent infringement,” said Jim Gerritsen, an organic seed farmer and President of lead Plaintiff OSGATA, according to GMWatch.org. “The appeals court ruling fails to protect my family and our farm and has only complicated matters.”
Currently, pollen from genetically modified plants is contaminating conventional fields, leaving those farmers who wish to keep GMOs out with considerable costs as they test their crops and seeds to ensure there is no transgenic contamination. What’s worse, the USDA considers GMO contamination ‘normal’.
Earlier this year, a US Appeals Court ruled plaintiffs are unable to bring suit against Monsanto in order to protect themselves from Monsanto’s contamination. The Court said, “Monsanto has made binding assurances that it will not take legal action against growers whose crops might inadvertently contain traces of Monsanto biotech genes.” They made this determination from an anonymous statement on the Monsanto website.
The peculiar ruling leaves organic and conventional farmers fighting a spreading fire with a squirt bottle. If they have no rights to sue Monsanto to protect their farms, they will see their fields contaminated.
The Supreme Court should decide whether or not to hear the case in coming months. NaturalSociety will keep you informed.