Organic farmers’ lawsuit against Monsanto dismissed

  • Published on February 28th, 2012

monsanto wins lawsuit, farmers will fight onIn a huge disappointment to everyone concerned about healthy food and small, sustainable farming, the judge in the class action suit against Monsanto has dismissed the case.

A large number of organic farmers and support organizations, led by the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGTA) had sought an injunction to prevent Monsanto from continuing their aggressive history of suing farmers for violating the patents they hold on genetically modified (GMO) seeds. The agribusiness giant’s track record includes:

  • Winning 144 lawsuits against farmers (whose seeds may have acquired Monsanto’s patented genes when pollen from other farms drifted into their fields).
  • More than 700 other farmers who settled out of court rather than fight the corporate behemoth that controls more than 90% of seed sales in corn, soybeans, sugar beets and many other crops.

Despite that, U.S. Federal Dist. Judge Naomi Buchwald completely sided with Monsanto, basically saying the companypromised not to do that stuff anymore and that was good enough for her (even though Monsanto has declined to enshrine that policy in any sort of legally binding covenant).

(Whats so bad about GMOs? See: The trouble with Monsanto and GMO – Dr David Suzuki spells it out)

The judge further noted that compared to the more than 2 million farms in the US, the fact that Monsanto sues about 13 farmers a year “is hardly significant”. Apparently she is unfamiliar with the concept of a “chilling effect”.

Jim Gerritsen, an organic farmer from Maine and President of the OSGTA,  added:

We reject as naïve and indefensible the judge’s assertion that Monsanto’s vague public relations ‘commitment [not to sue farmers for ‘trace amounts’ of their seeds are genetically engineered traits], should be ‘a source of comfort’ to plaintiffs. The truth is we are under threat and we do not believe Monsanto.

The lead attorney for the farmers, Dan Ravicher of the Public Patent Foundation at Cardozo Law School, says the judge was in error.

Her failure to address the purpose of the Declaratory Judgment Act and her characterization of binding Supreme Court precedent that supports the farmers’ standing as ‘wholly inapposite’ constitute legal error. In sum, her opinion is flawed on both the facts and the law.

While disappointing, it’s not too surprising that this court, too, would side with Monsanto. Gerritson says the farmers will appeal, so the fight is really only just getting started.

Monsanto has been having a rough year – their resistant corn is failing, India has sued them for biopiracy, they were convicted last month in France of causing pesticide poisoning, and they may be completely banned from the European Union

Like what you just read? Share it on your wall to spread the word, and like us on Facebook for more updates!

(Photo AttributionNoncommercial Some rights reserved by ianmackenz)

About the Author

Jeremy Bloom is the Editor of RedGreenAndBlue. He lives in New York, where he combines his passion for the environment with his passion for film, and is working on making the world a better place.
  • Pingback: Supreme Court hands Monsanto the farm()

  • Jennifer

    It is sad that farmers are forced to participate in long drawn out court battles resulting in costly legal fees just to protect the food we all eat. I find it unthinkable that Monsanto, or any other pesticide company for that matter, finds it acceptable to lace food (and the environment) with poison. I am so tired of hearing about “acceptable amounts” of harmful chemicals, there is no acceptable amount of harmful chemicals I want to put in my body. Clearly these chemicals are not only harming our bodies, but destroying the environment too. When will these people wake up and realize that money can not buy a new planet once we have destroyed ours!

  • Pingback: Should Monsanto be able to patent genes? Supreme Court may take up the case « Women Born Transsexual()

  • Pingback: Should Monsanto be able to patent genes? Supreme Court may take up the case, in part.()

  • joebanana

    Studies so far have shown GMO’s to cause sterilization and other reproductive harm in mice. It’s also thought to be a cause of the honey bee die off. Monsanto is a hideous evil company with no morals, it’s an enemy to all living things, and should be considered a terrorist organization.

  • Yes, a sad set-back for the farmers, and for the people who are concerned for the safety of the food they put on their tables for their children. EWe have to see that the struggle against Monsanto continues and grows stronger. Monsanto must not be allowed to get away with this crime, yes it is a crime when our food is put into danger through GM.

    Monsanto has many products I name two GM seeds and Agent Orange, the latter used in Vietnam caused the deaths of many thousands of babies in the wombs of their mothers and caused many thousands to be born with horrific deformities.

    Monsanto has refused to accept repsonsbilty or pay any compensation. Readers wishing to know more about Agent Orange should go to:

    • woody

      I had heart surgery in 2011 because I was sprayed with the “Rainbow Chemicals” in Vietnam. Ischemic Heart Disease is on the list of diseases that is caused by Monsanto not controlling the Dioxins that were put into the defoliants. Evil ,Evil Company.