Organic Farmers Challenge Monsanto Patents in NY Court Hearing

Tractors_in_Potato_Field_farming.jpg
A U.S. District Court hearing in downtown New York today could determine the eventual fate of several organic farmers from across the country, including some in upstate New York.

The hearing centered on a "pre-emptive" suit led by the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGTA), against agricultural giant Monsanto. In it, OSGTA says it brought "this action to protect [farmers] from ever being accused of infringing patents on transgenic seed." Monsanto filed to dismiss the case, and today lawyers for both sides made their arguments in front of U.S. District Judge Naomi Buchwald.

Monsanto has a long history of using patents to control the market share on crop seeds. Its genetically modified seeds are considered intellectual property, and Monsanto regularly sues small family and organic farmers who are found using the seeds without a license, even if they were unaware of the mistake. Wind drift and birds often transfer the seeds without farmers knowledge, a regular occurence in nature -- but the use of genetically modified seeds is not allowed if farmers want to market their crops as "organic."

As a result, many, many small organic and family farms have found themselves ruined or in massive debt to the St. Louis company, and so in March 2011, the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) filed a motion on behalf of OSGTA and 82 other farming associations (including the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York), challenging Monsanto's iron-clad patents.

The farmers' cause has since been picked up by the Occupy movement, which mobilized today on Twitter and outside the courthouse in support of the farmers. They carried signs with slogans like "Stop Frankenfruit," and "Keep Our Food Open Source."

The judge has said she will make a decision on whether the case will move to trial by March 31.

[keyana.stevens@keyanastevens]

Go to Runnin' Scared for all our latest news coverage. 

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Myrajessie
Myrajessie

I wrote an article on Monsanto for a presentation at work on seed saving I surely hope this suit goes thru because Monsanto is trying to destroy the natural process of growing by true farmers

Seante Wilson
Seante Wilson

I will not purchase anything from a company that doesnt also use it themselves. I'd like to see the people of Monsanto and their affiliates eat nothing but their filth they are trying to feed us and see how they weather with it. Cancer rates are up and diseases of the intestines are also up. I know as I am one of them who has contracted Celiac disease! Am I angry? YOU BET! This is my life and I dont appreciate those EVIL Monsanto grim reapers screwing up my system and affecting my life! Nor anyone elses in my family!

Aron
Aron

To answer the claim of pesticides/ chemicals....  

Round-up or Glysophate Salt is the majority of GMO crops. The Patent on Round-up is past and this is why you see generic weed spray product on you shelf at the garden center/ Home Depot or Walmart.  This spray nothing more than a salty spray. Salt is slightly acidic (this is party why salt rusts metal) and it kills the Chlorophyll in the plant starving it. This is why it is a "Systemic" herbicide.  The actual crop (Corn, Soybean, Cotton) has a gene from a weed that is resistant (not round up proof)  When the crop comes out of the ground a light (Less concentrated than wht you buy in the store shelf) is sprayed over the plants... stunting the crop but killing the small tender weeds... The spray is inert with in 24 hours.just as grass in your lawn grows back- so do the weeds, but by this time the crop has canopied over shading out the weeds.

The alternative is to spray chemicals (Triazines- Atrazine, Callisto) that are residuals and stay in the soil extended periods and can actually build up.  Certainly GMOs are safer for the environment.

There are other types of GMOs but this was the 1st to be widely used and has been since the early 80s. 

Aron
Aron

There is a huge difference between fields that have some GMO (Genetic Modified Organism) cross contamination and fields planted GMO. the practice of raising wheat/ soybeans that are GMO and then replanting the resulting crop will be a 98 to 99 percent GMO. This is what Monsanto has taken to court in the past.  Someone who does not plant GMO seed but has cross contamination will have a 3 to 5% GMO population in the crop.  Monsanto has not gone after those people, and a court cases in the mid west have already decided this subject.

This is nothing but an attempt to make a political statement and try to force some sort of settlement.

If you farm you wold know this.

Ken Sargeant
Ken Sargeant

Pharmaceutical companies use the same methods to restrict competion and squash development new medications.

ajkmsteph
ajkmsteph

bull the pollen is tested and safe.  The lawyers who screwing the complainants - no hope of winning. There are no damages. If you are an organic farmer you have nothing to fear. No- one who accidentally had Gm seed has been sued. -- thats because only if grow the seed with selection to remove Gm does the GM become a major factor. You need to get your facts straight - as you will see by this case. Just watch how the lawyers make the money and no one else.  The anti-Gm have believed their own stories for so long they now think they are facts

A.G.
A.G.

You are wrong. No one is seeking to "make the money." This is an action or declaratory relief, not damages.

Plaintiffs are seeking a judicial decree that Monsanto's allegedly frivolous patent lawsuits are invalid. This isn't some nonsense being advanced by lawyers trying to make money. An organization of farmers believes Monsanto has been abusing the patent and litigation process and wants to put an end to it. Monsanto has been involved in over 1000 patent lawsuits in the last decade. If plaintiffs can prove their claim, a judicial declaration preventing Monsanto from recovering in those suits is worth far more than money. 

ajkmsteph
ajkmsteph

of course the lawyers will make money. people get patents. That is actually very core to the US constitution very early -- the idea is you invent something - you apply for patent - tell everyone how to do it in the process and if you get it you have a monopoly on that invention. Until the patent expires. The soybean patent for MOnsanto expire in 1-2 years. Is there a single organic farmer who has lost a lawsuit to Monsanto because a small fraction of his crop was Monsanto seed without a license - I think not. The people who get sued are those that make a business out of growing seed that is substantially Monsanto technology without a valid license. They have often paid a fee for the first seed then they harvest their crop - get the seed cleaned and then replant - this usually isn't as useful as fresh seed but its cheaper. This is viable (not legal) for GM soybeans and canola but not hybrid cotton or corn that needs to be hybrid to yield well. The true organic farmer wouldn't want the GM seed and wouldn't spray them with RoundUp like most of the violators do. RoundUp would kill organic crops. Read the court reports - get them on Google scholar. the farmer in Canada who lost his fight went to supreme court and lost. He actually had 90% roundUp canola in his field and said it fell off the back of a truck.....the court did not believe him. organic farmers do have to worry that GM or non-organic or any other pollen from other cross pollinating crops cross a lot with their crop. This is a common factor is food production e.g. for while corn to remain white it has to be kept about 600 yards or more from field yellow corn. The thing is the organic s are so fanatical that they want 100% purity - (PS Hitler was into organic food - wanted it pure) No such thing. Pure can be deadly. I bet Monsanto would guarantee that if they have less than e.g. 20% GM in their grain monsanto would not sue but then its not organic. There should be a way for the different crisp to coexist. Corn pollen moves no more than about a couple of hundreds yards and is then not viable. soy plants don't easiest cross pollinate the plants right next to them -its not easy to cross-pollinate soybean plants - thats why they are not hybrid- its basic plant science but lets not get the facts get in the way

A.G.
A.G.

The complaint alleges Monsanto engaged in abusive conduct by filing frivolous patent claims. I don't know whether the claims are meritorious and I don't know the win/loss ratio of these suits. You obviously don't either. I do know, however, that Monsanto has filed over a thousand such lawsuits, which sounds a little ridiculous. 

Whether or not farmers have won or lost these claims is irrelevant. The purpose of litigation isn't always to win a judgment. Patent litigation involves long, drawn out, and extremely expensive lawsuits. Most farmers can't afford to defend these suits and, as a result, simply comply with Monsanto's demands. Its an intimidation tactic.

And lawyers get paid to do their job. That is true. The lawyers in this case, however, are not "screwing the complainants." They are advocating for them.

Edodson888
Edodson888

Sorry, Organic Seed Growers Trade Association. 

Edodson888
Edodson888

Really?  I would like to let you in on the FACT the OAGTA is NOT seeking damages, just protection....side note:  Didn't I see you when I walked past McDonald's at lunch?

JustWilliam
JustWilliam

I am so glad to hear this.  Monsanto plants their fields and then, when their pollen infects nearby fields they SUE those farmers for "patent infringement".

No matter whether you like or hate GM crops, this is criminally backwards.  It should be Monsanto's responsibility to keep their crops from infecting other people's crops and they should be forced to compensate those people whose crops they have infected.  This lawsuit is important.  It will place responsibility firmly where it belongs.

Earthling
Earthling

Nobody has the right to control intellectual property that can destroy the natural systems of this planet.

Have any of you walked thru a corn field these days?  Only one thing grows.  Corn.  Every other green thing is killed and this is happening on hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland.  You walk thru a field and all you see is dirt and corn.  This is a major disruption of our eco system.  The consequences can be disastrous.  Humans do not have the intelligence or self control to be messing with Nature like this.

"outdated and unproductive farming practices" are sustainable.  Agribusiness is not.

Wendax
Wendax

Corn AND Superweeds now! Gotta love a good Monsanto failure, they are doomed...

Janearther
Janearther

Did you know Monsanto spends millions to send PR plants onto sites like this... Read Monsanto is leaving the UK and will also not be selling MON810 in France due to fierce resisitance. Their corn was pulled out of the ground in Hungary, Peru has voted for a ten year moratorium and protests continue worldwide against their bully tactics to forcefeed the world on this garbage. They are also currently being sued in India for biopiracy.Their BT cotton has been instrumental in the suicides of thousands of farmers who have decended into debt because of exhorbitant prices and lack of yield. Their seeds are poison and the world knows it. I hope this case goes to trial and we finally have justice for all farmers. Farrmers, break free of their agreements. Plant your own seed and save it. Don't use Roundup and stand up against their 2-4D agent orange seeds as well. They do not care about life. The only thing they care about is their profits.

beckyf
beckyf

What I don't understand is why the judge couldn't make a decision today...probably a ploy to play this thing out as long as possible...we'll just push it out a few more months and if she does decide it goes to trial...well we'll just push it out another year or so...it's all b.s.

Edodson888
Edodson888

I am thinking the "ploy" beckyf is pointing out is related to 1.  Farm Bill 2012's release.  2. Election year, duh.  3.  New job openings at the FDA, EPA, and a probable reassigning of postitions at Monsanto due to the stock volume frenzy today.  4. Medical coverage paid for by the very government that supported the bioterrorism of Monsanto and the resultant health problems in this country. 

A.G.
A.G.

This is not a ploy. Judges rarely, if ever, rule from the bench in these cases. There is a lot more to a motion to dismiss than a simple hearing. Monsanto filed a written motion and the plaintiff's filed a written opposition, which likely included hundreds, if not thousands, of pages of exhibits that the court must review. The complaint itself is 60+ pages long. A motions hearing gives the parties the opportunity to clarify their positions and allow the judge inquire into any weaknesses in the arguments. Its basically a question and answer session to help the judge make its decision.After the hearing, the judge considers the arguments of the parties, re-reviews any documents that might aid in its decision, and issues a written opinion. This ensures that the judge's ruling is made after a careful consideration of the issues. Lawsuits like this are extremely complex and involve numerous legal issues. A motion to dismiss could dispose of the entire case. It is not something you would want a judge to make a quick ruling on. 

ajkmsteph
ajkmsteph

"Monsanto has a long history of using patents to control the market share on crop seeds." << i.e. It controls its intellectual property and has every right to do so>>"  Its genetically modified seeds are considered intellectual property, and Monsanto regularly sues small family and organic farmers who are found using the seeds without a license, even if they were unaware of the mistake. " <<wrong -="" always="" and="" be="" can="" deliberate="" gm="" growing="" is="" license="" mistaking="" not="" of="" seed="" small="" spread="" sued="" without="" won="">> Wind drift and birds often transfer the seeds without farmers knowledge, a regular occurence in nature -- but the use of genetically modified seeds is not allowed if farmers want to market their crops as "organic."  << A tiny amount of GM in organic should be fine because GM products have been classed as safe - 0.001% of safe is safe but the organic business - and that is what it is wants to have people more for the same and makes its own standard>> If eeveryone was organic they would invent a new standard (grown on left side of hill etc)"As a result, many, many small organic and family farms have found themselves ruined or in massive debt to the St. Louis company, and so in March 2011, the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) filed a motion on behalf of OSGTA and 82 other farming associations (including the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York)," <<how -="" a="" basis="" be="" because they="" been="" buy="" can="" can't="" expensive="" food="" for="" have="" is="" living="" make="" many="" only="" rich="" ruied="" ruined="" selling="" statement?="" that="" the="" they="" what="" your="">> Challenging Monsanto's iron-clad patents. << then don't challenge iron clad patents !>>""The farmers' cause has since been picked up by the Occupy movement, which mobilized today on Twitter and outside the courthouse in support of the farmers. They carried signs with slogans like "Stop Frankenfruit," and "Keep Our Food Open Source." "" << what a great example of support >> How is that working for them?  Made a difference ?  Maywhile peopel in Africa are starving bcuase their governments wouldn't  import GM grain the US has been eating for 15 years and which EU also imports and eats (but wouldnt grow) - so what is it - is it safe to eat but not grow or safe to grow but not eat?>> << who said organic is safer - answer noone - noone can because it would be illegal>> << the ultimate ruling will be no case - it always will be  be with this basis. No one has been damaged except Monsanto.  If it were not for Monsanto teh organic movement religion would have no leg to stand on to justify its higher prices and waste of land using outdated and unproductive practices - (if they were more productive their food would be cheaper - its basis logic.</how></wrong>

patent attorney
patent attorney

"don't challenge iron-clad patents" A patent is only iron-clad if it stands up to litigation (i.e. being challenged). Any patent issued from the patent office is necessarily questionable because Examiners aren't educated as to patent law (only procedure) and don't have enough time/resources to find all prior art.

Lilla Pappa
Lilla Pappa

Then I suggest you feed yourself a steady diet of Monsanto corn and see how long it takes YOUR organs to fail:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/... 

or when YOUR kids get killed by slave labour practices:

http://thomasjhenrylaw.com/bla... 

or when YOUR grandkids are their own twins:

http://foodfreedom.wordpress.c... 

or when farmers HERE start committing suicide.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new... 

Monsanto isn't about growing food for needy people, it's about enslaving desperate farmers so stockholders can increase their share prices.  

People are starving in Africa because colonialists like Monsanto came in, took over, enslaved the natives, took all the profit and the buggered off leaving them in a barren wasteland with nothing but poverty and strife to sustain them.  Society's very first experiment in "trickle-down" economics resulted in abject poverty, war, famine and disease.

Productivity is the slogan they SAY they will feed you, but really, they'll feed you debt, dependence, fear, control and, ultimately, disease, poverty and death.

If there is a Hell, every single Monsanto employee who had the knowledge of these truths and too their profit anyway will spend eternity cleaning the shit-trap at the bottom of Hell's septic tank.

Thefunky Buttholesexguy
Thefunky Buttholesexguy

Your lack of education on the subject matter is so obvious, yet you seem to have a matter-of-fact attitude throughout your comment. May I ask, are you a republican?

A.G.
A.G.

Apparently you also lack education on this matter. If you support either major party, you support Monsanto. Condescending attitudes rooted in artificial political consciousness are bad for discourse.

- Toby Moffett - Monsanto Consultant - US Congessman (Dem)- Dennis DeConcini - Monsanto Legal Counsel - US Senator (Dem)- Marcia Hale - Monsanto Director, Int'l Govt. Affairs White House Senior Staff (Clinton)- Mickey Kantor - Monsanto Board Member - Sec. of Commerce (Clinton)- Josh King - Monsanto Director, Int'l Govt. Affairs - WH Communications (Clinton)- Carol Tucker-Foreman - Monsanto Lobbyist - WH-Appointed Consumer Adv (Clinton)- Linda Fisher - Monsanto VP, Gov't & Public Affairs - Deputy Admin EPA (Clinton)- Lidia Watrud - Monsanto Manager, New Tech - USDA, EPA (Clinton, Bush, Obama)- Michael Taylor - Monsanto VP, Public Policy - Dep. Commiss. FDA (Obama)- Hilary Clinton - Rose Law Firm, Monsanto Counsel - US Senator, Sec of State - Roger Beachy - Director, Monsanto Danforth Center - Director USDA NIFA (Obama)- Islam Siddiqui - Monsanto Lobbyist - AG Negotiator Trade Rep (Obama)

magurl
magurl

its not safe...(and please educate yourself on organic farming). If Monsanto can't keep it on their side of the fence, they are not controlling it!!   check the research.  in nature, when one gene is off, when a virus  mutates minutely the results can be disastrous. it is too early to determine what happens on a cellular level, but it can't be good, next will be fish, and then what??  we will be eating food that is not food at all.  Monsanto does their own research and testing and keeps their results to themselves.  in science,  most testing is subject to peer reviews, and the testing must be duplicated by numerous outside sources, but not with Monsanto!!(well, I do recall that some French scientist did get to scrutinize some of Monsanto's results, after they sued for the right to do so).  And  regarding the GM grain we've been eating?? Corn, soy , canola... how is the health of this country??  look around the signs are everywhere.  Proceed with caution.  Its not good to mess with mother nature!!  The US is now dealing with the consequences of modifying fats(transfats, im sure you've heard of them).  oh they were so safe, lasted for a year on the shelf!  and now look, they are poisonous to our systems, responsible to a whole host of diseases!  I will proceed carefully with a cautious eye, and support real food! The people of this country are foolish and probably do not even realize that this is going on, but if the occupy movement picks it up, all the better.  at least it is some publicity!  Are you a Monsanto troll???

ajkmsteph
ajkmsteph

I have a PHd in biology made use of biology to make biotech insulin, vaccines etc. I just heard a guy in the UK talk about how mutated wheat is not GM - they irradiate the seeds randomly and then set without any safe guards zero - yet we know wheat and other foods can produce anti-feedants and make plenty of chemicals that if increased in amount could be toxic - where is the sense of a highly tested (tested 1000x more than any other food is not ok but randomly mutated and untested is OK? No one tested Kiwi fruit for safety but people die all the time from allergies to it. Bt crops have saved massive amount of known chemical insecticides being used corn used to use about 35 millions gallons of soil insecticide to kill root worms and for the last 8 years has been protected by Bt genes in Gm corn. That is a bigger drop in insecticide use in one year than all the organic corn put together over 20 years. This is virtually no organic feed corn grown in US but 50 millions acres of GM corn

Stacia Petri
Stacia Petri

and they should!   why isnt this on every major news media outlet????

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