Organic Farmers Fight Back Against Monsanto’s Patent Infringement Claims

By Joseph Mandour on March 12, 2012

wheat-seed1-200x133Los Angeles – A group of sixty family farmers, seed businesses, and organic agricultural organizations have joined together in a lawsuit to challenge chemical giant Monsanto Company’s ongoing allegations of patent infringement.

The farmers’ lawsuit was filed after years of Monsanto taking them to court in order to assert its patent rights. In the latest courtroom action for the lawsuit filed last March, the Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association (OSGATA) offered Judge Naomi Buchwald arguments to what they say has been nothing short of a climate of fear created by Monsanto’s long series of patent infringement lawsuits. OSGATA represents as much as twenty-five percent of the nation’s organic farmers and non-organic farmers alike.

OSGATA’s complaint, filed under the Declaratory Judgment Act, would allow for a preemptive judgment that would clear the farmers of any patent infringement before they even grow and harvest their crops. The farmers are reportedly not seeking any monetary damages from Monsanto.

According to the individual farmers and businesses suing Monsanto, the issue is that Monsanto’s transgenic plants, also known as genetically modified organisms or GMO’s, are contaminating their organic crops by introducing the unwanted GMO’s into the soil. Interestingly, Monsanto has often responded to the farmer’s complaints by suing them for patent infringement, even though the farmers were desperate to keep the material out of their crops.

Jim Gerritsen, an organic seed farmer and president of OSGATA, said, “We consider the threat of contamination from GMO crops to be significant, and the reality is that the organic market will not tolerate anything that has GMO content, either by design or contamination.”

Monsanto, who is the largest commercial grower of corn seed in the world, claims that any cross-pollinating from the wind or at distributors’ seed bins is completely unintentional.

The patent attorney representing the farmers is attempting to prove that Monsanto’s GMO seed patents are invalid because they have no social utility. Patent law requires patented inventions to have a social utility and Monsanto’s seed is harmful to society, therefore making the patents invalid.

Patent attorneys for Monsanto have asked the judge to dismiss the lawsuit, citing that it is “hypothetical” and “abstract.” The judge has until the end of March to respond to Monsanto’s request.

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Posted in: Patent Infringement