Organic Farmers and Seed Sellers Sue Monsanto

Today, the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) announced that it has filed a preemptive legal action seeking a ruling that would prohibit Monsanto from suing organic farmers and seed growers if they are contaminated by Roundup Ready seed. PUBPAT is a a not-for-profit legal services organization whose mission is to protect freedom in the patent system. In a press release, PUBPAT writes:

On behalf of 60 family farmers, seed businesses and organic agricultural organizations, the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) filed suit) today against Monsanto Company to challenge the chemical giant’s patents on genetically modified seed….

“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 Lecturer of Law at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York. “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.”

Once released into the environment, genetically modified seed contaminates and destroys organic seed for the same crop.  For example, soon after Monsanto introduced genetically modified seed for canola, organic canola became virtually extinct as a result of contamination.

Organic corn, soybeans, cotton, sugar beets and alfalfa now face the same fate, as Monsanto has released genetically modified seed for each of those crops, too.  Monsanto is developing genetically modified seed for many other crops, thus putting the future of all food, and indeed all agriculture, at stake.

In the case, PUBPAT is asking Judge Naomi Buchwald to declare that if organic farmers are ever contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically modified seed, they need not fear also being accused of patent infringement.  One reason justifying this result is that Monsanto’s patents on genetically modified seed are invalid because they don’t meet the “usefulness” requirement of patent law, according to PUBPAT’s Ravicher, plaintiffs’ lead attorney in the case.  Evidence cited by PUBPAT in its opening filing today proves that genetically modified seed has negative economic and health effects, while the promised benefits of genetically modified seed – increased production and decreased herbicide use – are false.

“Some say transgenic seed can coexist with organic seed, but history tells us that’s not possible, and it’s actually in Monsanto’s financial interest to eliminate organic seed so that they can have a total monopoly over our food supply,” said Ravicher.  “Monsanto is the same chemical company that previously brought us Agent Orange, DDT, PCB’s and other toxins, which they said were safe, but we know are not.  Now Monsanto says transgenic seed is safe, but evidence clearly shows it is not.”

Read the entire press release here .