A Citizen's Assembly In Support of Family Farmers vs. Monsanto

| 1/17/2012 11:20:03 AM

Tags: Family Farmers vs. Monsanto, Monsanto, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, Wood Prairie Farm, Heidi Hunt,

Wood Prairie 

New York, New York - January, 16 2012 - We wish to assemble free and peaceful citizens outside the Manhattan District court in an effort to present the important message to family farmers that millions of Americans stand behind them as they seek their day in court. In the past two decades, Monsanto's seed monopoly has grown so powerful that they control the genetics of nearly 90% of five major commodity crops including corn, soybeans, cotton, canola and sugar beets. This has resulted in onerous costs to farmers through high technology patent fees for seeds as well as burdensome litigation costs in defending themselves against lawsuits asserted by Monsanto.

In many cases organic and conventional farmers are forced to stop growing certain crops in order to avoid genetic contamination and potential lawsuits. Between 1997 and April 2010, Monsanto filed 144 lawsuits against American farmers in at least 27 different states, for alleged infringement of its transgenic seed patents and/or breach of its license to those patents, while settling another 700 out of court for undisclosed amounts. As a result of these aggressive lawsuits, Monsanto has created an atmosphere of fear in rural America and driven dozens of farmers into bankruptcy.

The lawsuit OSGATA (Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association) et al vs. Monsanto was filed on behalf of 300,000 organic and non-GMO farmers and citizens to seek judicial relief in "protect[ing] themselves from ever being accused of infringing patents on transgenic (GMO) seed". The judge has requested and agreed to hear oral argument in orders to make a decision of whether or not to allow the farmers' case to move forward in the courts after Monsanto filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

"We are family farmers and we are headed to court in New York City on January 31 to let the judge know that our survival as farmers depends on this lawsuit," said Maine organic seed farmer Jim Gerritsen.  Gerritsen is also President of Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, lead plaintiff in Monsanto et al v. Monsanto.  "We're not asking Monsanto for one penny. We just want justice for our farmers and we want court protection from Monsanto." 

We are encouraging supporters of farmers' rights to grow food without fear and intimidation to assemble outside the courtroom in a peaceful manner to support the farmers in their claims, recognizing that these injustices affect us all and that this case is deserving of the court's time and attention.

1/18/2012 6:51:01 PM

Addendum to my point (c) above: Monsanto claims it has never sued anybody over inadvertent spread of its patented genes to neighboring crops via natural pollination, and doesn't plan to do so. This suit is apparently a pre-emptive attempt to take away Monsanto's right to do so in the future should they find a need . ...The real question should be about a farmer's obligation to prevent contamination of a neighbor's field via natural pollination. Is GM to blame when you hit someone with your Chevy?

1/18/2012 6:33:44 PM

Before we all get our shorts in a bunch over The Devil, Monsanto, consider this: (a) cost of corn seed ~40cents/acre; total production cost of corn ~$4/acre. A few cents per acre doesn't make much of a difference. (b) Monsanto lost market share the last 3 yrs and brought down prices a little to regain it's share. Market forces work. Nobody is required to buy Monsanto (c) When a farmer buys patented seed from Monsanto, he signs a contract saying he won't save seed for future use. Monsanto only sues those who break the contract. That seems fair to me; simple patent law......300,000 plainitiffs? There's only 1 million farms in the US and half of those are in name only (claimed for tax purposes.) It would seem there's a lot of plaintiffs out there without any skin in the game, complaining strictly on an emotional and not scientific basis. Gather the facts first, then form an opinion. And remember, we now have 7 billion mouths to feed and all engineering solutions necessitate compromise among the conflicting factors.

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