A group of organic farmers recently filed a lawsuit with agricultural giant Monsanto over patent disputes. The farmers filed their lawsuit preemptively, claiming that Monsanto has a history of suing when their genetically modified crops contaminate neighboring farms.
Monsanto, a multinational biotechnology company, spends significant amounts of money researching and growing genetically modified crops. Monsanto’s patents protect these genetically modified crops from patent infringement and theft.
The problem, however, according to organic farmers, is that local laws protecting intellectual property, can be damaging to neighboring farms. According to current laws, if genetically modified seeds are found in neighboring fields, the owner of those fields can be sued for patent infringement, even if the seeds found their way onto those farms due to cross contamination, a common problem in agricultural production.
Organic farmers claim that Monsanto has a history of these sorts of lawsuits and that they are seeking to monopolize food production in the U.S. while driving organic farms out of business. Monsanto claims that the preemptive lawsuit is nothing more than a publicity stunt and that concerns over genetically modified food are overblown.
The Public Patent Foundation, which is representing several organic farms and family farms, is challenging Monsanto’s patents and asking a judge to rule that cross contamination cannot automatically led to charges of patent infringement and theft of intellectual property.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer