Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Organic Farmers Lawsuit Against Monsanto Thrown Out

A lawsuit filed by the Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association (OSGATA) against Monsanto was thrown out by a judge this week. The ruling was not a surprise, as it represented more of a preemptive strike on the part of organic growers against Monsanto.

As the story notes, Monsanto creates all manner of genetically modified seeds that are planted by farmers all around the world. If a farmer wants to use a Monsanto GMO seed, they must, of course, pay Monsanto. Monsanto has a long history of protecting their patented seeds by bringing legal action against anyone who violates their patents or their terms of use. Which is perfectly fine, that is the legal protection a patent allows.

The issue is this: You can’t control Nature. Once you plant GMO seeds, they can and will spread of their own volition. Organic growers who do not wish to have any GMO plants anywhere near their crops are forced to plant buffer crops to block pollen from blowing onto their property. As quoted from the article:

“OSGATA does have reason to be afraid; it is legally the responsibility of an organic corn farmer to plant enough buffer to prevent drifting pollen from modified corn from becoming incorporated with their crop. It seems preposterous, but welcome to the world of intellectual property, and here is an agri-biotech giant who’s not afraid to sue.”

Think about that for a minute. An organic farmer could, through no fault of their own, accidentally grow GMO corn and then be sued by Monsanto for doing so. The judge in the case ruled that, since this hadn’t actually happened yet, there were no damages and hence no class-action lawsuit.

This also highlights the real issue with GMOs. We simply don’t know what affect they will have over time. You can’t control Nature.