Chesnut Farms Supports NOFA lawsuit
As natural farmers, we are very cognizant of our farming practices and strive to organic and humane in all we do. As such we have long followed the corporate driven, federal farm policies and decisions and are hopeful for this latest round - In a classic David vs. Goliath lawsuit, NOFA (Northeast Organic Farmers Association) has filed a lawsuit in Federal Court against The Monsanto Company to challenge the chemical giant's patents on genetically modified seed. The case, Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association, et al. v. Monsanto, was filed in federal district court in Manhattan.
According to NOFA-MA, "This case asks whether Monsanto has the right to sue organic and other farmers for patent infringement if Monsanto's genetically modified seed should land on their property," said Dan Ravicher, lead attorney in the case and PUBPAT's Executive Director and Lecturer of Law at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York. "It seems quite perverse that a farmer contaminated by GM seed could be accused of patent infringement, but Monsanto has made such accusations before and is notorious for having sued hundreds of farmers for patent infringement, so we had to act to protect the interests of our clients."
Once released into the environment, genetically modified seed contaminates and destroys organic seed for the same crop. Soon after Monsanto introduced genetically modified seed for canola, for example, organic canola became virtually extinct as a result of contamination. Organic corn, soybeans, cotton, sugar beets and alfalfa now face the same fate, as Monsanto has released genetically modified seed for each of those crops, too. Monsanto is developing genetically modified seed for many other crops, thus putting the future of all food, and indeed all agriculture, at stake.
In the case, plaintiffs are asking the court to declare that if they are ever contaminated by Monsanto's genetically modified seed; they need not fear also being accused of patent infringement. One basis for such a ruling would be that Monsanto's patents on genetically modified seed are invalid because they don't meet the "usefulness" requirement of patent law, according to Jack Kittredge, NOFA/Mass Policy Director.
This lawsuit filing comes on the heels of a recent controversial USDA decision to deregulate genetically modified alfalfa, the fourth largest crop grown in the US and a major source of feed to the nation's meat producers. Arguments against genetically modified food crops include concerns about lack of long-term studies of its effects on human health, concerns for biodiversity within our crop varieties, and contamination of crops grown by organic and other non-GMO farmers.
CLICK HERE FOR the FULL TEXT OF THE LAWSUIT
While this may seem a bit heavy – especially on a spring day – Rich and I believe it is important to remain informed. We all make choices and we are aware that there is no perfect answer but the heavy handed lawsuit-against-small-family-farmers tactics employed by Monsanto is unconscionable. The blitheness with which the USDA apparently rubber-stamps GMO seeds and then tries to spread them across the globe (see the Wikileaks article of our January Newsletter) is nothing short of a slap to all caring, organic farmers in the United States.