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Judge Rules Against Organic Farmers in Monsanto Case


On February 24, Federal Judge Naomi Buchwald dismissed the class-action suit by Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) against Monsanto. The suit was brought by OSGATA and other groups on behalf of over 300,000 individuals to protect themselves against the many lawsuits that Monsanto has filed against farmers.

Since the mid-1990’s, 144 farmers have had lawsuits brought against them by Monsanto for alleged violations of their patented seed technology. Monsanto has brought charges against more than 700 additional farmers who have settled out-of-court rather than face Monsanto’s aggressive actions. Many of these farmers claim to not have had the intention to grow or save seeds that contain Monsanto’s patented genes. If Monsanto’s seed technology is found on a farmer’s land without contract they can be found liable for patent infringement even if seed drift and pollen drift occur. This is how most genetically engineered crops contaminate neighboring fields.

The judge criticized the OSGATA and the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) in her ruling, calling the suit a “transparent effort to create a controversy where none exists.”

Monsanto general counsel David 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.”

Plaintiff lead attorney Daniel Ravicher said, “While I have great respect for Judge Buchwald, her decision to deny farmers the right to seek legal protection from one of the world’s foremost patent bullies is gravely disappointing. Her belief that farmers are acting unreasonable when they stop growing certain crops to avoid being sued by Monsanto for patent infringement should their crops become contaminated maligns the intelligence and integrity of those farmers. Her failure to address the purpose of the Declaratory Judgment Act and her characterization of binding Supreme Court precedent that supports the farmers’ standing as ‘wholly inapposite’ constitute legal error. In sum, her opinion is flawed on both the facts and the law. Thankfully, the plaintiffs have the right to appeal to the Court of Appeals, which will review the matter without deference to her findings.”

The fight against Goliath continues.

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