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thought for the day:

organic = sustainable

what customers are saying:

I left Countryside for cheaper, "All-Natural" feed. When my customers started COMPLAINING about the taste of my eggs I came back to Countryside!

— Better Feed Makes Better Eggs, Better Eggs Make Happier Customers

APPEALS COURT BINDS MONSANTO TO PROMISE NOT TO SUE ORGANIC FARMERS

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 10, 2013, Public Patent Foundation

A three-judge panel at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
ruled today that a group of organic and otherwise non-GMO farmer and
seed company plaintiffs are not entitled to bring a lawsuit to protect
themselves from Monsanto’s transgenic seed patents “because Monsanto

has made binding assurances that it will not ‘take legal action
against growers whose crops might inadvertently contain traces of
Monsanto biotech genes (because, for example, some transgenic seed or
pollen blew onto the grower’s land).’”

In the ruling issued today in the case Organic Seed Growers and Trade
Association et al. v. Monsanto, the Court of Appeals judges affirmed
the Southern District of New York’s previous decision that the
plaintiffs did not present a sufficient controversy to warrant
adjudication by the courts. However, it did so only because Monsanto
made repeated commitments during the lawsuit to not sue farmers with
“trace amounts” of contamination of crops containing their patented
genes.

Plaintiffs’ attorney, Dan Ravicher of the Public Patent Foundation
(PUBPAT), views the decision as a partial victory. “Before this suit,
the Organic Seed plaintiffs were forced to take expensive precautions
and avoid full use of their land in order to not be falsely accused of
patent infringement by Monsanto,” said Ravicher. “The decision today
means that the farmers did have the right to bring the suit to protect
themselves, but now that Monsanto has bound itself to not suing the
plaintiffs, the Court of Appeals believes the suit should not move
forward.”

The plaintiff farmers and seed companies began their legal battle in
March of 2011, when they filed a complaint against agricultural giant
Monsanto asking for a declaration that Monsanto’s patents on
genetically engineered seed were invalid or unenforceable.  The
plaintiffs were compelled to file the suit because Monsanto’s patented
seed can contaminate neighboring fields through various means
including wind and insects, and the owners of those fields, such as
plaintiffs, can then be sued by Monsanto for patent infringement.

The Organic Seed plaintiffs’ complaint detailed Monsanto’s abusive
business and litigation tactics that have put several farmers and
independent seed companies out of business. They also detailed
Monsanto’s history of ruthless patent enforcement, going so far as
investigating as many as 500 farmers each year for patent infringement
by trespassing onto their land. The plaintiffs further detailed the
harms caused to society by Monsanto’s GMO seed, including the
proliferation of herbicide-resistant “superweeds” and environmental
pollution. The plaintiffs set forth in their legal filings how the
patents were legally deficient in several ways including that the
covered technology has no beneficial social use and that the dozens of
patents issued to Monsanto have illegally extended and entrenched its
monopoly.

“Even though we’re disappointed with the Court’s ruling not to hear
our case, we’re encouraged by the court’s determination that Monsanto
does not have the right to sue farmers for trace contamination,” said
Maine organic seed farmer Jim Gerritsen, president of lead plaintiff
Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association.  “However, the farmers
went to court seeking justice not only about contamination, but also
the larger question of the validity of Monsanto’s patents. Justice has
not been served.”

While the court is relying on Monsanto’s promise not to sue farmers
for unintentional contamination, a growing number of America’s farmers
and consumers are concerned about genetic contamination of our food
supply by Monsanto’s transgenic crops. While this lawsuit seeks to
protect contaminated farmers from being accused of infringing
Monsanto’s patents, the decision today allows farmers who are
contaminated to sue Monsanto and Monsanto’s customers for the harm
caused by that contamination without fear of a retaliation patent
infringement claim against them by Monsanto.

“Today’s ruling may give farmers a toehold in courts regarding the
unwanted contamination of their crops, but it does not protect our
food supply from the continued proliferation of Monsanto’s flawed
technology,” said Dave Murphy, founder and executive director of Food
Democracy Now!, a co-plaintiff in the lawsuit. “The real threat of
continued contamination of our nation’s food supply was only
highlighted last week when Monsanto’s unapproved GMO wheat was
discovered in an Oregon farmer’s field more than 10 years after it was
legally planted in that state,” said Dave Murphy, founder and
executive director of Food Democracy Now!.

The discovery of GMO contamination sent shockwaves through the Western
wheat growers community and resulted in Japan and South Korea
temporarily halting the acceptance of American wheat imports.

Despite the Court of Appeals’ Decision today the plaintiffs still have
the right to ask the Supreme Court to review the Court of Appeals
decision and ultimately reinstate the case. Ravicher said the Organic
Seed plaintiffs are considering doing so.

 

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