Last Wednesday, 23 new plaintiffs joined in on a suit to protect organic growers from being sued for patent infringement by Monsanto should their fields be contaminated by the agri-business giant’s genetically modified seed.
The case, led by the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) was originally filed in March by a group of 60 family farmers, seed businesses and organic agriculture organizations. It asks, “Whether Monsanto has the right to sue organic farmers for patent infringement if Monsanto’s transgenic seed should land on their property.”
While the answer seems obvious (can I get a resounding “NO!”) the farmers’ request has been met by resistance by the GMO giant. Originally, Monsanto responded to the initial request saying that they would not sue farmers with “trace” amounts of transgenic contamination. However, when asked to make this statement legally binding, big M rejected the request and answered that claims of patent infringement could perhaps be made against organic farmers suffering from crop contamination.
If a case like this doesn’t raise red flags about the prevalence and severe effect of GMO crops, it’s unclear what will. Organic and biodynamic farmers would prefer that their crops remain untouched by transgenic seeds – it’s why they chose to grow without the use of artificial and chemical means from the get go. However, because we can not control which way the wind blows, and therefore where GMO seeds land, contamination is often times not preventable. Thus, OSGATA and Co.'s request to avoid having to fork over a large amount of money should Monsanto’s undesirable seed find its way into the field of a holistic family farmer.
At this point it’s hard to tell which way this case will go, but we’re on top of it here at the GRID HQ, and will be sure to keep you abreast of any changes, successes, and failures. After all, as locally, organically and mindfully as we all try to be when choosing the food that fuels us, it's an unfortunate reality that in our present age large agricultural corporations rule the roost.
The full suit, including correspondence between Monsanto and the Public Patent Foundation, Inc. can be read here.