Monsanto Foods, the mega-corp that wants us all to eat genetically modified corn, spliced with pig genes (among other delicacies) has been handed a big victory by the Supreme Court this week. The Supremes refused to even hear the complaints of non-GMO farmers about the bad practices of Monsanto, which include bullying tactics that would make Chris Christie jealous.
These farmers have no way to be compensated for their contaminated crops, or challenge the unfair practice of seed patenting. The Ecologist has more:
The US Supreme Court has issued a decision in the landmark federal lawsuit, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association et al v. Monsanto.
Farmers were denied the right to argue their case in court and gain protection from potential abuse by the agrichemical and genetic engineering giant, Monsanto.
The decision also dashes the hopes of family farmers who sought the opportunity to prove in court that Monsanto’s genetically engineered seed patents are invalid.
“The Supreme Court failed to grasp the extreme predicament family farmers find themselves in”, said Maine organic seed farmer Jim Gerritsen, President of lead plaintiffOSGATA.
“The Court of Appeals agreed our case had merit. However, the safeguards they ordered are insufficient to protect our farms and our families.
“This high court which gave corporations the ability to patent life forms in 1980, and under Citizens United in 2010 gave corporations the power to buy their way to election victories, has now in 2014 denied farmers the basic right of protecting themselves from the notorious patent bully Monsanto.”
1 million citizens and 25% of organic farmers …
The historic lawsuit was filed in 2011 in Federal District Court in Manhattan. The large plaintiff group numbers 83 individual American and Canadian family farmers, independent seed companies and agricultural organizations whose combined memberships total over 1 million citizens, including many non-GMO farmers and over 25% of North America’s certified organic farmers.
“The Appellate Court decision could leave Canadian farmers out in the cold because their protection may not extend to Canada at all”, said Saskatchewan organic grain farmer Arnold Taylor, a member of plaintiff member Canadian Organic Growers (COG).
“Like many Canadian farmers, we sell crop into the United States and can therefore be liable to claims of patent infringement by Monsanto.”
In a complicated ruling issued in June 2013 by the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington DC, American farmers were handed a partial victory when the three justices agreed with the farmers’ assertion that contamination by Monsanto was inevitable.
The justices ordered Monsanto not to sue American farmers whose fields were contaminated with trace amounts of patented material, which the Court defined as 1%.
Meanwhile in Canada
In a related situation, Canadian soybean farmer Stephen Webster of Ontario experienced just how abusively Monsanto treats innocent contamination victims.
Through no fault of his own Webster, who farms with his elderly father, had his 2012 identify-preserved (IP) non-GMO soybean crop contaminated by Monsanto’s patented genetically engineered seed. Their soybeans were ruined for export to specialty markets in Japan.
“First Monsanto claimed we had too many bees and that we were at fault for the contaminated crop”, said Webster. “Then they threatened to run up $100,000 in legal bills that we would have to pay.”
Tragically, Webster’s story is the norm in farm country, with Monsanto using its extreme economic power to silence family farmers even before they can legally defend themselves.
Unwanted GMO seed has cost farmers $2 billion
Notably, none of the plaintiffs are customers of Monsanto. None have signed licensing agreements with Monsanto. The plaintiffs do not want Monsanto’s seed and they do not want Monsanto’s gene-spliced technology and have sought legal protection from significant economic harm to their businesses and way of life.
“We have a fourth generation farm”, said organic dairy farmer and plaintiff Rose Marie Burroughs of California Cloverleaf Farms.
“Monsanto cannot be trusted. Their refusal to provide a binding legal covenant not to sue our fellow farmers would make anyone wonder, what are their real motives? GMO contamination levels can easily rise above 1% and then we would have zero protection from a costly and burdensome lawsuit.”
Significant contamination events, including Starlink corn and LibertyLink rice, have already cost farmers and the food companies nearly $2 billion.
In the past year alone, the discovery of Monsanto’s illegal GMO wheat in an Oregon farmer’s field and GMO alfalfa in Washington state sent foreign markets, where GMOs are not wanted, reeling. In both instances farmers’ economic livelihoods were put at risk as buyers in foreign markets refused to buy the GMO contaminated crops.
Dave Murphy, founder and executive director of Food Democracy Now!, a grassroots advocacy group based in Iowa and a plaintiff in the case, said:
“If Monsanto can patent seeds for financial gain, they should be forced to pay for contaminating a farmer’s field, not be allowed to sue them. Once again, America’s farmers have been denied justice, while Monsanto’s reign of intimidation is allowed to continue in rural America.”
“Monsanto has effectively gotten away with stealing the world’s seed heritage and abusing farmers for the flawed nature of their patented seed technology. This is an outrage of historic proportions and will not stand.”
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