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Organic Growers Attack Monsanto

Defending Agriculture

Legal battle could impact all grain farmers across the United States.

Published on: February 6, 2012

On January 31, 2012, a hearing on GMO's was held in United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. On the evening news you often times see convicted former Wall Street financiers walking out of the doors of this courthouse in New York City. This court is the setting for a major legal battle which will impact all grain farmers in the United States.

The Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association squared off against Monsanto. 

The case, at the moment, goes off on a legal issue of whether the organic farmers have standing to bring a declaratory judgment action against Monsanto. Simply, the question is whether the organic farmers have suffered harm which allows them to get their case before a court for a possible trial.

The case involves 96 plaintiffs claiming that "Society stands on the precipice of forever being bound to transgenic agriculture and transgenic food. Coexistence between transgenic seed and organic seed is impossible because transgenic seed contaminates and eventually overcomes organic seed."

Plaintiff's complaint filed in June, 2011, claims "…transgenic seed, and in particular Monsanto's transgenic seed, is 'injurious to the well-being, good policy, or sound morals of society' and threatens to 'poison people,' [and] Monsanto's transgenic seed patents are all invalid." (No question about their position!)

On January 31 the Plaintiffs argued they are afraid of Monsanto suing plaintiffs for patent infringement. The argument being if there is drift of GMO pollen onto organic crops and the organic crop is contaminated, allegedly, Monsanto will sue for patent infringement. The organic farmers believe that Monsanto harasses farmers and in its complaint, claims that Monsanto has sued over 144 farmers for patent infringement.

Monsanto's counsel stated on numerous occasions during the argument that Monsanto has never suggested to the organic producers that it would enforce patent rights against them. Counsel argued "The company has never brought legal action against an inadvertent – against somebody who didn't want to make use of the traits that are manifested in our transgenic products..."

The complaint in 163 paragraphs reads like a horror show involving the dangers of  GMO seeds. "The Prince of Whales (sic) said it quite clearly, 'And if they think its somehow going to work because they are going to have one form of clever genetic engineering after another then again count me out, because that will be guaranteed to cause the biggest disaster environmentally of all time."

The brief in Paragraph 113 claims that Monsanto's transgenic seed has the potential to create severe negative health effects. In fact, the brief claims Monsanto's glyphosate or as we producers know it Roundup is harmful to human health and cites a 2005 study that concludes there are endocrine and toxic effects of Roundup on mammals.

Paragraph 114 claims there are studies suggesting an association between the use of Roundup and the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Further the brief alleges a study shows that from a 50,000 person sample of pesticide applicators there is a "suggested" link between glyphosate use and multiple myeloma.

In Paragraph 115 of the complaint, Plaintiffs cite a study suggesting that there is an association between glyphosate use and animal miscarriages.

The plaintiffs in this lawsuit make it very clear they do not want to use or sell transgenic or GMO seeds. So in order to get into court, the plaintiffs are using a declaratory judgment action which claims they fear Monsanto will sue them but the real goal is, as they say in their first claim for relief, that each of Monsanto's patents, which are listed in the complaint, are invalid because each patent is either "prior art" or that each patent is invalid because it fails to satisfy requirements of the United States Code. In plain English, plaintiffs are seeking to destroy the patents that Monsanto has developed in providing transgenic seeds to the farmers of the world.

Plaintiffs in this case represent a broad array of organic and conventional producers. There are thirty-six agriculture and food safety organizations, fourteen seed businesses, and thirty-three farms and farmers.

Plaintiffs include Center for Food Safety ("CFS"), a Washington, DC nonprofit environmental advocacy which was established in 1997 to challenge harmful food production technologies. CFS claims it is the leading public interest organization litigating the harmful environmental and socioeconomic impacts of genetically engineered crops. Beyond Pesticides, Inc. which claims to protect public health and the environment and runs a clearing house for information on the hazards of genetically modified organisms.

The lead plaintiff is an organic farmer from Maine who has lead "the farmers' march" to Zuccotti Park in support of the Food Justice Committee of the Occupy Wall Street movement. He claims support from President Obama who he says has "…promised mandatory labeling of genetically modified products and we must hold him to that."

The transcript of the U.S. District Court hearing on January 31 suggests to me as a trial lawyer that the case will be dismissed. If not, it will be a case all of you will be hearing about in 2012.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The FDA (the Federal Death Administration and the AMA the American Murder Association are both guard dogs in a Sickness Industry,not a health industry. Big Ag (Monsanto) and Big Pharma (FDA) are hairs of the same Big OIL Dog. Agri chemicals and drugs are all patented by the Three headed beast Ag...Pharma... & oil. All the chemicals are made by the Oil Companies. They all have a "patent it or kill it" policy. You can not patent nature. Their Enemy ....Nature. Free Energy and Cures for disease would economically force the redirection of the money from the 1% to the 99%. I know you may say that such an economic people’s evo-revo-solution would disturb one fifth of the economy. Don't you imagine someone may have told Hitler, "If you close down the concentration camps the guards will be out of a job". Trust me, things will be ok because the biggest customer of oil and gas products in the world is the government.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Such a valid Suit. And so Correct. Meanwhile, i avoid any crops that can be GMO. Step by Step, we will win back the health of the citizens. And Companies like Mansanto will be required to earn a living with healthy products only!

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  3. Anonymous says:

    To use the argument that prices would go through the roof is absolutely false. We are experiencing right now severe inflation in food prices and the majority of crops are now these horrific genetically modified seeds. Montsanto wants to control all of the seed in the world and once they have a complete monopoly through their patents, they will exercise their might by playing with the prices thereby starving out those who cannot pay. They are already doing it now. Just look at your grocery bill. They already have seed banks in the Artic with funding by the Bill Gates Foundation to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. These seed banks will insure that "Good seed" is preserved and they will have exclusive rights to it. These people have to be stopped. Patenting seed should be illegal. The right to eat is a basic right and should not be controlled by a corporation. A corporation who has two of the biggest democrats behind it: the Rockefeller family and Bill Gates. And they say they care about the people.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    We are living longer than ever in history! I love GMO's they are great for mankind and our environment. Apparently none of you have ever heard of Dr. Bruce N. Ames. I suggest you read up on him.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    Gmos are poison!!!That simple and if you use it or eat it guess what happens to you? Thats right you get sick and die along with animals and bees!!! BAN GMOs!!! Many Blessings!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Obama just appointed the former CEO I believe of Monsanto to head the FDA, it's just a revolving door of food criminals running the system. It should be a law to lable foods that have been genetically motified for they simply put, kill people!

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  7. Anonymous says:

    GMO is banned in Europe for a reason. Monsanto is criminal. Their only objective is to ensure the billions they have invested in doesn't go to waste. Monsanto could care less about human beings & their only objective is to protect their pockets. Its despicable & criminal & the word is spreading quickly about them. Law suits due to deaths caused by cancer, poisoning, & neurological damage in humans will be Monsantos next big financial investment of the future.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Several neurologists have given me so many different diagnoses - some epileptic & some definitely not. No one seems to agree except that they don't know what the cause is. After 18 years & several ineffective medications (Lamictal, Dilantin, Keppra, Depakote, Neurontin), switching to an organic, vegetarian diet has been the ONLY thing to terminate my seizures. My seizures began in 1993, the same year the FDA began approving the usage of man-made hormones & pesticides in our food. The food we eat is definitely important. Don't let Monsanto contaminate it. FDA approves usage of man-made hormones if no "significant" problems result in testing. 1% of the US population is MORE than 3 million people. I don't believe any one of them is "insignificant".

  9. Anonymous says:

    I appreciate what 10/9 10:08pm had to say. I dont know what the answer is but I do know that GMO's are not it. Something has to change or just as the oil will someday run out...our planet will someday no longer be able to give back to us. Unfortunately (in my opinion) probably not in our lifetime. If we had to we could change our lifestyles and fix things but we wont because we dont feel threatened enough. I am absolutely not a fan of Monsanto but I as a consumer am making the demands that keep Monsanto going and I hate that fact just as much! I am changing it for me and my family as fast as I can. Hopefully I live far enough in the middle of nowhere that my seeds will be safe!

  10. Anonymous says:

    I certainly do not want to be confused for standing up for Monsanto. I have my own beef with them and some of the reasons why are similar. One thing the consumer needs to understand is without high production prices will explode out of control due to demand. I would rather raise less and get paid more. The problem is most consumers will not be able to afford the mass of available food that is afforded to them now. When people left the rural areas for cities 60-80 years ago they lost the ability to raise some of their own food. Whether they realize it or not they depend on high production by the few that produce food. In steps Monsanto to capture the circumstance. Until there is an alternative consumers need to watch what they wish for. It is the same as doing away with all middle east oil. Sounds logical until your paying $12 for a gallon of gas and your broke with no way of getting to work to make money. Only with food, your broke and starve.

  11. Anonymous says:

    There are alot of sources that indicate we are not living longer....while more babies survive, that doesn't mean we are living longer lives, nor does it mean we live with less diseases or pathology...

  12. Anonymous says:

    good. Monsanto deserves some payback...karma's a b*tch. people could easily avoid it if they stay away from processed food and avoid corn or soy anything...but now with GMO alfalfa being carelessly, wrecklessly deregulated...organic agriculture as we know it is finished. Alfalfa can even cross contaminate Clover which is the other viable livestock and dairy fodder. how dare they. and how dare the government act as their little prison b*tches... doing whatever they say. not any more. no standing army can stop an idea whose has come.

  13. Anonymous says:

    How can Americans consume food which has indisputable evidence as the cause of disease? It is a nightmare scenario.