Last week, a federal judge dismissed a class-action lawsuit filed against Monsanto by a group of organic farmers from across the country. While the farmers have expressed disappointment, they vow to fight on and appeal the ruling.
The lawsuit stems from Monsanto’s aggressive defense of patented materials, specifically, their genetically modified crops and seeds. Monsanto is one of the world’s largest producers of genetically modified seeds. Following an okay from the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration, Monsanto has begun planting these seeds in farms across the country.
The problem springs from farms and farmers, particularly organic farmers, who own fields neighboring Monsanto farms. Fields that are contaminated by Monsanto seeds and crops present a number of challenges for farmers. Organic farmers, who base their business on the trust of their brand, claim that genetically modified components are incompatible with organic produce. Cross-contamination, therefore, ruins their crops and potentially their business.
More problematic are the legal challenges to cross-contamination. Since Monsanto owns the patent on their genetically modified crops, farmers whose fields have been contaminated frequently find themselves being sued by the agricultural giant.
The class-action lawsuit sought to shield farmers from these lawsuits by challenging Monsanto’s ability to patent genetically modified seeds and crops.
The lead attorney for the organic farmers expressed disappointment at the judge’s ruling, stating, “While I have great respect for Judge [Naomi] Buchwald, her decision to deny farmers the right to seek legal protection from one of the world’s foremost patent bullies is gravely disappointing.” He also promised to appeal.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer