For a minute it sounded like farmers were actually getting somewhere in their legal battles with Monsanto (see recent post Monsanto Found Guilty Of Chemical Poisoning). However, now U.S. Federal District Judge Naomi Buchwald has dismissed a case brought by organic farmers to try and prevent potential patent infringement lawsuits brought by the GMO supergiant.
The lawsuit, named OSGATA et al. vs. Monsanto, was filed by the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) and 82 other plaintiffs representing nearly 300,000 farmers.
The farmers took the legal route to prevent lawsuits from Monsanto. The company could potentially sue farmers when its patented modified seeds wind up in farmers’ crops. Cross-contamination can occur through wind and other methods.
While Monsanto has always said it would not sue farmers who acquired its patented seeds through this method, it has filed over a hundred lawsuits, with several against farmers who attempted to prove they did not purposefully add the seeds to their crops. The farmers are claiming this as harassment, claiming they have stopped growing profitable crops, particularly corn, due to fear of contamination by Monsanto patented products.
Their hope was that the lawsuit would at least cause a reexamination of Monsanto’s patents, which they claim are fraudulent. The final ruling failed to address this matter.
Dan Ravicher, the plaintiff’s lead attorney and executive director of the Public Patent Foundation at Cardozo Law School, said he thinks the judge made an error in her ruling.
“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.”
Attorneys are also maintaining the farmers will continue on with the fight, despite this bump in the road. Maybe another lawsuit will at least cause a reexamination, one step closer to reclaiming some power from Monsanto in the food industry?
Image CC licensed by Friends of Family Farmers: organic corn