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Offline Herman Beck-Chenoweth

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« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2014, 02:40:20 AM »



Refusal to Reinstate OSGATA et al v. Monsanto Prevents Farmers from

Protecting Themselves Beyond Partial Court of Appeals Victory

CORNUCOPIA, WI:  The U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision January

13 in the landmark federal lawsuit, Organic Seed Growers and

Trade Association et al v. Monsanto. Farmers were denied the

right to argue their case in court and gain protection from

potential abuse by the agrichemical and genetic engineering giant

Monsanto. Additionally, the high court decision dashes the hopes

of family farmers who sought the opportunity to prove in court

Monsanto's genetically engineered seed patents are invalid.


"While the Supreme Court's decision to not give organic and other

non-GMO farmers the right to seek preemptive protection from

Monsanto's patents at this time is disappointing, it should not

be misinterpreted as meaning that Monsanto has the right to bring

such suits," said Daniel Ravicher, Executive Director of the

Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT at and

lead counsel to the plaintiffs in OSGATA et al v. Monsanto.

"Indeed, in light of the Court of Appeals decision, Monsanto may

not sue any contaminated farmer for patent infringement if the

level of contamination is less than one percent," Ravicher

explained. "For farmers contaminated by more than one percent,

perhaps a day will come to address whether Monsanto's patents may

be asserted against them. We are confident that if the courts

ever hear such a case, they will rule for the non-GMO farmers,"

Ravicher stated.


Farmers had sought Court protection under the Declaratory

Judgment Act that, should they become the innocent victims of

crop contamination by Monsanto's patented gene-splice technology,

they could not perversely be sued for patent infringement.

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The historic lawsuit was filed in 2011 in Federal District Court

in Manhattan.  The large plaintiff group numbers 83 individual

American and Canadian family farmers, independent seed companies,

agricultural organizations and public interest groups. The

combined memberships of these plaintiff groups total over 1

million citizens, including many non-GMO farmers and over 25% of

North America's certified organic farmers.


"The Supreme Court failed to grasp the extreme predicament family

farmers find themselves in," said Maine organic seed farmer Jim

Gerritsen, President of lead plaintiff OSGATA

( "The Court of Appeals agreed our case

had merit.  However, the safeguards they ordered are insufficient

to protect our farms and our families. This high court which gave

corporations the ability to patent life forms in 1980, and under

Citizens United in 2010 gave corporations the power to buy their

way to election victories, has now in 2014 denied farmers the

basic right of protecting themselves from the notorious patent

bully Monsanto," Gerritsen said.


"The Appellate Court decision could leave Canadian farmers out in

the cold because their protection may not extend to Canada at

all," said Saskatchewan organic grain farmer Arnold Taylor, a

member of plaintiff member Canadian Organic Growers (COG at "Like many Canadian farmers, we sell crop

into the United States and can therefore be liable to claims of

patent infringement by Monsanto."


In a complicated ruling issued in June 2013 by the U.S. Court of

Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., American

farmers were handed a partial victory when the three justices

agreed with the farmers' assertion that contamination by Monsanto

was inevitable. The justices ordered Monsanto not to sue American

farmers whose fields were contaminated with trace amounts of

patented material, which the Court defined as 1%.


"U.S. family farmers should not have to endure legal intimidation

by giant corporate agribusinesses, like Monsanto, when genetic

pollution from their products contaminates crops," said Mark A.

Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst for the Wisconsin-based

Cornucopia Institute (, one of the



Notably, none of the plaintiffs are customers of Monsanto. None

have signed licensing agreements with Monsanto. The plaintiffs do

not want Monsanto's seed and they do not want Monsanto's gene-

spliced technology and have sought legal protection from

significant economic harm to their businesses and way of life.


"We have a fourth generation farm," said organic dairy farmer and

plaintiff Rose Marie Burroughs of California Cloverleaf Farms.

"Monsanto cannot be trusted. Their refusal to provide a binding

legal covenant not to sue our fellow farmers would make anyone

wonder, what are their real motives?  GMO contamination levels

can easily rise above 1% and then we would have zero protection

from a costly and burdensome lawsuit."


Significant contamination events, including Starlink corn and

LibertyLink rice, have already cost farmers and the food

companies nearly $2 billion dollars. In the past year alone, the

discovery of Monsanto's illegal GMO wheat in an Oregon farmer's

field and GMO alfalfa in Washington state sent foreign markets,

where GMOs are not wanted, reeling. In both instances farmers'

economic livelihoods were put at risk as buyers in foreign

markets refused to buy the GMO contaminated crops.