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Judge Dismisses Organic Farmers' Case Against Monsanto

A New York federal court today dismissed a lawsuit against agribusiness giant Monsanto brought by thousands of certified organic farmers. The farmers hoped the suit would protect them against infringing on the company's crop patents in the future.

The Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association and several other growers and organizations do not use Monsanto seeds. But they were betting that the judge would agree that Monsanto should not be allowed to sue them if pollen from the company's patented crops happened to drift into their fields.

Instead, the judge found that plaintiffs' allegations were "unsubstantiated ... given that not one single plaintiff claims to have been so threatened." The ruling also found that the plaintiffs had "overstate[d] the magnitude of [Monsanto's] patent enforcement." Monsanto brings an average of 13 patent-enforcement lawsuits per year, which, the judge said, "is hardly significant when compared to the number of farms in the United States, approximately two million."

The company, meanwhile, asserts that it doesn't exercise its patent rights when trace amounts of its patented traits inadvertently end up in farmers' fields.

Dan Ravicher, executive director of the Public Patent Foundation and lead lawyer for the plaintiffs, told The Salt that Monsanto remains a "patent bully" and that the judge's decision was "gravely disappointing." The plaintiffs have not yet decided if they will appeal.

Much of the corn, soy, canola and cotton grown in the U.S. is genetically modified. Among them, corn is the most likely to cross-pollinate with plants in nearby fields. That means that genes from genetically modified crops can drift or "trespass" into organic fields.

As Dan Charles reported last year, most organic corn in the U.S. typically contains anywhere from half a percent to 2 percent GMOs, according to companies that sell such corn to organic dairies or poultry farmers. It has been that way since genetically engineered corn and soybeans came into wide use more than a decade ago.

But organic farmers say that GMO contamination could hurt the value of their crop, and they fear lawsuits from Monsanto for possessing their GM genes without paying for them. The documentary Food Inc. portrayed the company as aggressively suing farmers who save its patented seed.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Advisory Committee on Biotechnology in the 21st Century began discussing ways to protect organic farmers from contamination.

"Beyond whatever happens with this suit, there are some very legitimate issues behind it," Doug Gurian-Sherman, a senior scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists, tells The Salt. "There is already a significant burden to organic food production, and there is more coming. It raises the question: Is it possible for organic agriculture to survive in the face of GM crops?"

Monsanto sees it differently, however. In a statement on the judge's decision, executive vice president David F. Snively said, "This decision is a win for all farmers as it underscores that agricultural practices such as ag biotechnology, organic and conventional systems do and will continue to effectively coexist in the agricultural marketplace."

by fuckers they need to go downreply 2504/06/2013

A highly important win for the Corporate-American community!

by fuckers they need to go downreply 102/28/2012

None of the organic farmers had suffered any damages from Monsanto.

They had no standing.

by fuckers they need to go downreply 202/28/2012

Monsanto is evil...and also very powerful.

by fuckers they need to go downreply 302/28/2012

All Monsanto needs to do is form some sort of private and 'indipendent' organisation that looks into the organic farmers' products and then tells the public that they are contaminated with genetically modified seeds and therefore the consumer might as well buy regular brands and products instead of paying big bucks for slightly contaminated food.

This way they get rid of their 'competition' quite easily.

by fuckers they need to go downreply 402/28/2012

Well I'm sure that the next time Monsanto sues an organic farmer for allowing Monsanto's pollen to blow onto their fields, it'll just get THROWN out of court!

(rolls eyes)

by fuckers they need to go downreply 502/28/2012

R38, this looks like a new story for the comics ... Reggie comes out as bisexual.

by fuckers they need to go downreply 602/28/2012

I think R6 is lost.

by fuckers they need to go downreply 702/28/2012

'Cause like electrolytes are good for you.--the makers of Brawndo

Couldn't resist. This is what will happen if Monsanto takes over everything. I'm so happy to be moving into a house where I can plant a veggie garden.

by fuckers they need to go downreply 802/28/2012

[quote] I'm so happy to be moving into a house where I can plant a veggie garden.

Until Monsanto shuts you down. And they will.

by fuckers they need to go downreply 902/28/2012

r9, remove your tinfoil hat.

If any Monsanto pollen blows onto your yard they are guilty of trespass.

You are guilty of nothing.

And this is not new. This situation is hundreds of years old.

It's no different from a neighbor's bull or stallion busting onto your land and fucking your cows or horses and the animal's owner trying to charge you for "stud fees".

It's never held up.

by fuckers they need to go downreply 1002/28/2012

R10, did Monsanto lose the cases where it sued farmers after its seed blew onto their land?

by fuckers they need to go downreply 1102/28/2012

R10, it still doesn't stopped Monsanto from going after you. And they can and have put farmers out of business by dragging out the legal proceedings, since they have an endless supply of cash to do so.

by fuckers they need to go downreply 1202/28/2012

Monsanto claims they haven't sued nearly as many farmers as people have claimed. Well let's see what happens from now on...

by fuckers they need to go downreply 1302/28/2012

I wonder how long it will take that judge to retire to his life of luxury in a tropical paradise.

by fuckers they need to go downreply 1402/28/2012

hello.

by fuckers they need to go downreply 1502/28/2012

welcome to the future

by fuckers they need to go downreply 1602/28/2012

Anonymous should go after that SOB judge.

by fuckers they need to go downreply 1702/28/2012

It's a cozy little world isn't it?

by fuckers they need to go downreply 1802/28/2012

Bumper Crops

by fuckers they need to go downreply 1904/03/2013

I WISH I could be as naive and simple-minded as r2/r10.

by fuckers they need to go downreply 2004/03/2013

I've never heard of A suing B to prevent B from suing A.

Generally, one has to wait until there is a lawsuit to move to dismiss it.

by fuckers they need to go downreply 2104/03/2013

It doesn't matter who we elect, big business will ALWAYS run this shitty country. All politicians are the same in that respect...they ALL love money.

by fuckers they need to go downreply 2204/03/2013

r21 There is no "generally" where Monsanto is confirmed, dear.

by fuckers they need to go downreply 2304/04/2013

Organic food is bullshit. It's aimed at brainless hipsters who think - against all scientific evidence - that it is healthier than produce grown from genetically modifed seeds or those assisted by fertilisers. If we left agriculture to the organic lobby, the world would starve.

by fuckers they need to go downreply 2404/06/2013

So, Monsanto sued organic farmers in the past, right? Were those cases dismissed, too? If not, why not?

I agree that court wasn't the right platform for this battle. The organic farmers should have started to form a lobby that supports local and state senators who will vote in their favor and persuade other senators to vote with them. Of course Monsanto has most senators in its pocket by now so only a newly elected batch of senators can do the trick. It also will help for the organic farmers to have proper PR media representation to bring the public opinion on their side in a more visible manner and paint Monsanto as the evil corporation it is.

by fuckers they need to go downreply 2504/06/2013
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