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Archive for the ‘Organic Foods’ Category
Posted in Activism, Climate Change, Environment, Farm Issues, Genetic Engineering, Geoengineering, Government, Health Issues, Herbicides, Nanotechnology, Organic Foods, Pesticides, Sustainable Agriculture, Video on February 20, 2013| Leave a Comment »
The eighty-three family farmers, small and family owned seed businesses, and agricultural organizations challenging Monsanto’s patents on genetically modified seed filed papers in federal court today defending their right to seek legal protection from the threat of being sued by Monsanto for patent infringement should they ever become contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically modified seed. The Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) represents the plaintiffs in the suit, titled Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association (OSGATA), et al. v. Monsanto and pending in the Southern District of New York. Today’s filings respond to a motion filed by Monsanto in mid-July to have the case dismissed.
“Rather than give a straight forward answer on whether they would sue our clients for patent infringement if they are ever contaminated by Monsanto’s transgenic seed, Monsanto has instead chosen to try to deny our clients the right to receive legal protection from the courts,” said Dan Ravicher, PUBPAT’s Executive Director. “Today’s filings include sworn statements by several of the plaintiffs themselves explaining to the court how the risk of contamination by transgenic seed is real and why they cannot trust Monsanto to not use an occurrence of contamination as a basis to accuse them of patent infringement.”
Plaintiffs Bryce Stephens, who farms in Kansas, Frederick Kirschenmann, who farms in North Dakota, C.R. Lawn, who is founder and co-owner of Fedco Seeds in Maine, Don Patterson of Virginia, and Chuck Noble, who farms in South Dakota, each submitted declarations to the court describing their personal experiences with the risk of contamination by genetically modified seed and why those experiences have forced them to bring the current suit asking the court to declare that Monsanto could never sue them for patent infringement if they were ever contaminated by Monsanto’s GMO seed. As summarized by the accompanying brief filed by PUBPAT on the plaintiffs’ behalf, “Monsanto’s acts of widespread patent assertion and plaintiffs’ ever growing risk of contamination create a real, immediate and substantial dispute between them.”
Twelve agricultural organizations also filed a friend-of-the-court amici brief supporting the right of the plaintiffs to bring the case. In their brief, the amici describe some of the harmful effects of genetically modified seed and how easily GMOs can contaminate an organic or conventional farmer’s land. The organizations filing the amici brief were Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, Ecological Farmers of Ontario, Fair Food Matters, International Organic Inspectors Association, Michigan Land Trustees, Natural Environment Ecological Management, Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Association, Organic Council of Ontario, Slow Food USA, and Virginia Independent Consumers and Farmers Association. (The full text of the filings can be found at:
Nationwide, October 16, 2011: World Food Day Rallies for the Right to Know About Genetically Engineered Foods
In the United States, there are few causes that nine out of ten people support, but 90% of consumers agree that we deserve the right to know about genetically engineered foods.
If almost everyone wants them, why aren’t there labels on genetically engineered foods? Because we haven’t yet built up a large enough movement to force companies, grocery stores, and elected public officials to bend to the peoples’ will. That’s what OCA’s Millions Against Monsanto campaign is all about.
We have an opportunity now to greatly increase involvement and action in the Millions Against Monsanto campaign for labels on genetically engineered foods.
Please join us in your area on World Food Day, October 16, 2011, for one of numerous local events in the Millions Against Monsanto Right to Know campaign.
Volunteer for the Millions Against Monsanto campaign
By Ronnie Cummins
Organic Consumers Association, Aug 4, 2011
After decades of grassroots public education, battles to safeguard standards, and hard work, organic food and farming has become the fastest growing sector of U.S. agriculture. Organics have surged in popularity to become a $30 billion dollar industry in the United States, representing approximately four percent of total grocery store sales and 12% of fresh fruit and vegetable sales, growing at the rate of 10-20% a year, in comparison to a growth rate of 2-3% a year for so-called “conventional” (i.e. chemical and genetically engineered) food. According to a recent poll by National Public Radio the majority (58%) of Americans now prefer organic food.
Millions of health-minded consumers, especially parents of young children, understand that cheap, non-organic, industrial food is hazardous. Not only does factory farming destroy the environment, destabilize the climate, impoverish rural communities, exploit farm workers, inflict unnecessary cruelty on farm animals, and contaminate the water supply; but the end product itself is inevitably contaminated. Routinely contained in nearly every bite or swallow of non-organic industrial food are pesticides, antibiotics and other animal drug residues, pathogens, hormone disrupting chemicals, toxic sludge, slaughterhouse waste, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), chemical additives and preservatives, and a host of other hazardous allergens and toxins.
Organics or Fast Food/Monsanto Nation?
Before we pat ourselves on the back for reaching a point where $30 billion of the U.S.’s $750 billion in yearly grocery store sales are certified organic (consumers are also buying another $51 billion worth of so-called “natural” foods and products); before we congratulate ourselves on the fact that there are thousands of well-stocked health food stores and co-ops across the country, as well as 6,132 farmers markets (up 350% since 1994), and 13,000 local CSA (community supported agriculture) buying clubs with a total of 400,000 members, let’s put our organic movement’s accomplishments in perspective. The overwhelming majority of Americans are still eating non-organic, pesticide-laden, genetically engineered, overly processed, junk foods on a regular basis, spending half of their food dollars on super-sized industrial chow in restaurants, cafeterias, and fast-food outlets. Skyrocketing rates of obesity, cancer, heart disease, and other diet-related diseases, and a devastated rural landscape of factory farms, monoculture crops, lifeless soil, polluted waterways, and depleted aquifers are a testimony to the monumental challenge that still lies ahead.
Your Whole Paycheck for Organic Foods?
Even if the majority of Americans have now reached the point where they say they’d prefer to buy organic foods, the majority of their purchases obviously aren’t organic. Otherwise the organic market share this year would be $400 billion, not just $30 billion. Why aren’t more people buying more organic food, if they believe it’s better for their health, as well as the health of the environment? In the NPR poll cited above, 54% of Americans said they weren’t buying organic food, or else they weren’t buying much of it, because it is too expensive.
Expanding the organic revolution will require that the organic movement offer practical solutions to the “Whole Paycheck” dilemma, so that ordinary people start to feel that the “organic premium” is a worthwhile investment in terms of health and sustainability. And for the poor, we’re simply going to have to find ways to subsidize their organic food consumption by incorporating, for example, organic food into food stamp and nutrition programs, as well as school cafeterias.
Of course, if you add up the enormous hidden costs of non-organic foods and cheap junk fare – damage to public health, environmental destruction, greenhouse gas pollution, contaminated water, dead zones in the oceans, billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to chemical and GMO agribusiness – organic food is actually much cheaper. The problem however is that the average shopper doesn’t really understand this. Standing in the supermarket aisles or at the checkout counter, economically-stressed out Americans have only a limited amount of money to spend. What can they do?
On the website of the Organic Consumers Association, there are a number of articles on how to buy organic foods on a limited budget, but offering advice for budget organic shopping is not enough. The organic movement needs to step up its public education and advocacy work. Most importantly, we need to lead by example and show our families, friends, co-workers and neighbors what the Organic Alternative really means. To influence others and train a new generation of organic advocates we must walk our talk :
(1) Stay informed and motivated. Reading through the thousands of articles archived on the Organic Consumers Association website and other websites is a good way to inspire ourselves, to give us food for thought and communication. You can use the internal search engine on the OCA website to find the specific articles that fire you up, and then spread the word. http://www.OrganicConsumers.org
(2) Prioritize your time and money. Turn off the TV or computer, turn on the tunes, and head for the kitchen or the backyard garden. We need to show people how it’s possible and enjoyable to rearrange our daily routines to make healthy food and gardening a priority. We need to break free from consumer compulsions and cut back unnecessary expenditures in order to be able to afford more organic foods and ingredients.
(3) Do it ourselves or do it with friends and family. We can all learn or re-learn the joys of cooking at home and the satisfaction of sharing communal meals, potlucks, and picnics with our organic-minded friends. Americans spend half their food dollars eating out, which is often expensive and usually unhealthy. By eating out less often, we can afford to buy more organic foods to prepare at home and invite friends over for dinner. We can also set a good example by preparing healthy organic lunches for ourselves at work and for our children at school.
(4) Filter our water, grow veggies, and bake our own bread. By buying a home water filter (which will remove fluoride, chlorine and other toxins) and carrying a stainless steel canteen, we can show people that you don’t have to buy expensive drinking water in BPA-leaching plastic bottles. We can also show people, by example, that you can grow your own organic herbs, spices, and veggies, even if you just start with potted plants on your windowsills, rooftops, porches, or patios. Buying extra organic fruits and vegetables in season and learning the traditional arts of canning or preserving are a major step forward. With a bread-making machine or some lessons in kneading our own, all of us can enjoy organic bread and pastries every day for a fraction of the cost of chemical and GMO-tainted baked goods.
(5) Simplify your diet, eliminate waste, and reduce your intake of processed foods and animal products. We can all buy organic whole grains, beans, spices, herbal teas, and cereals in bulk and cook from scratch. Learning how to use a pressure cooker will save time, money, and energy, as will careful meal planning and creative use of leftovers. Americans typically throw out and waste one-third of their food. Get in the habit of looking for recipes on the Internet, or using cookbooks.
(6) Shop at farmer’s markets, consumer coops, or join a Community Supported Agriculture project in your area. This way you can get your organic fruits and vegetables at the most affordable prices. Also look for fruits and vegetables and other foods that are in “Transition” to organic. Start a home garden or join a community gardening project. Eat as many salads and raw foods as possible.
(7) Join or organize an organic and non-GMO wholesale discount food-buying club. This buying club might include just your household or combine the buying power of several households. OCA will be announcing a new national distribution system for organic discount food buying clubs next week. This buying club network will address the Whole Paycheck and Organic Food Desert problems by offering non-perishable organic and non-GMO foods at an average 30-40% discount off retail prices, delivered directly to your door.
Organic Food Deserts, Highways, and Byways
Most American restaurants – where people spend half of their food dollars – are, in effect, organic food deserts, offering little or no organic fare. The same goes for school and workplace cafeterias, hospitals, universities, hotels, motels, and convenience stores. The United States interstate highway system can only be described as one enormous organic food desert, where low-grade restaurant chains, big box stores, and fast food outlets dominate the landscape.
In the NPR poll cited above, a significant proportion (21%) of Americans say that organic foods are not readily available or accessible in their towns or neighborhoods. In effect, large areas of the U.S., including rural communities, small towns, and low-income urban communities are “organic food deserts” with little or no access to natural food stores or farmers markets. If we want to move organic food and farming from being a 4% niche to the norm, we’re going to have to “green” these deserts, but not the way Michele Obama has suggested, by bringing Wal-Mart stores into every urban community. Instead, to green America’s food deserts we need to “get political” and change public food policies. In the meantime, food buying clubs, CSAs, and co-ops can lay down the foundation for organic retail storefronts.
Who Will Grow the Organic Food of the Future?
We’ve got 25,000 organic farmers and ranchers working hard and, in many cases, starting to make a decent living across North America, but we need a million organic producers if we are to make organic foods readily accessible and more affordable for the majority of consumers. We’ve got eight million acres of U.S. cropland and pastureland under organic management – producing nutrient-dense, healthy food, enriching the soil, preventing erosion, and restoring the soil’s capacity to sequester billions of pounds of greenhouse gases, but this amounts to only 1% of agricultural acreage. We’ve got thousands of young farm apprentices working on organic farms and CSAs, but we need hundreds of thousands. We’ve got scores of organic farm schools, but we need thousands, one or more at least, in each of the 3200 counties in the U.S. We’ve got a handful of universities and high schools teaching students about organic farming and animal husbandry, but we need every school and college to offer these programs, starting with elementary school.
We’ve got a half a million budding backyard organic gardeners, but we need millions, and we need more and more backyard farmers to expand into market gardening or mini-farms. At the end of the Second World War, half of America’s fruits and vegetables (and 30% in the UK) were coming from backyard, school, and community gardens, tended by millions of women, seniors, and youth, called Liberty Gardens. In this era of climate change, Peak Oil, and food insecurity, we’re going to need to scale up our “grow your own” efforts exponentially, and turn 60 million acres of chemical-intensive, non-edible lawns into organic gardens, mini-farms, and orchards. We’re also going to have to build a Main Street to Manhattan grassroots infrastructure of greenhouses and hoop houses, root cellars, food buying clubs, and neighborhood canning facilities.
The Myth of So-Called “Natural” Foods and Products
One of the major reasons why organic food sales and the acreage of organic farmland are still relatively small is the fact that millions of consumers have been hoodwinked into believing that so-called “natural” foods are “almost organic.” Of course the advantage in the marketplace of these so-called “natural foods” is that they are considerably cheaper than organic foods. This is the main reason why Americans buy $50 billion worth of foods and grocery items every year that are marketed as “natural,” while only buying $30 billion worth of organic products. Several recent polls indicate that the majority of health and green-minded consumers don’t know the difference between “natural” or “all natural” and organic foods. If they did know the difference, we’d likely be looking at $80 billion worth of organic foods and products sold every year, not just $30 billion.
Walk down the aisles of any Whole Foods Market (WFM) or Trader Joe’s and look closely. What do you see? Row after row of attractively displayed, but mostly non-organic “natural” (i.e. conventional) foods and products. By marketing sleight of hand, these conventional foods, vitamins, private label items, and personal care products become “natural” or “almost organic” (and overpriced) in the natural food store setting. The overwhelming majority of WFM products, even their best-selling private label, “365” house brand, are not organic, but rather the products of chemical and energy-intensive farm and food production factories. Test these so-called natural products in a lab and what will you find: pesticide residues, Genetically Modified Organisms, and a long list of problematic chemicals. Trace these products back to the farm or factory and what will you find: climate destabilizing chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides, not to mention exploited farm workers and workers in the food processing industry. Of course there are many products in WFM and Trader Joe’s that bear the label “USDA Organic.” But the overwhelming majority of their products, even their best selling private labels, are not.
What does certified organic or “USDA Organic” mean? This means these products are certified 95-100% organic. Certified organic means the farmer or producer has undergone a regular inspection of its farm, facilities, ingredients, and practices by an independent Third Party certifier, accredited by the USDA National Organic Program (NOP). The producer has followed strict NOP regulations and maintained detailed records. Synthetic pesticides, animal drugs, sewage sludge, GMOs, irradiation, and chemical fertilizers are prohibited. Farm animals, soil, and crops have been managed organically; food can only be processed with certain methods; only allowed ingredients can be used.
On the other hand, what does “natural” really mean, in terms of farming practices, ingredients, and its impact on the environment and climate? To put it bluntly, “natural,” in the overwhelming majority of cases is meaningless, even though most consumers do not fully understand this. Natural, in other words, means conventional, with a green veneer. Natural products are routinely produced using pesticides, chemical fertilizers, hormones, genetic engineering, and sewage sludge. Natural or conventional products – whether produce, dairy, or canned or frozen goods – are typically produced on large industrial farms or in processing plants that are highly polluting, chemical-intensive and energy-intensive. “Natural,” “all-natural,” and “sustainable,” products in most cases are neither backed up by rules and regulations, nor a Third Party certifier. Natural and sustainable are typically label claims that are neither policed nor monitored. (For an evaluation of eco-labels see the Consumers Union website). The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service provides loose, non-enforced guidelines for the use of the term “natural” on meat – basically the products cannot contain artificial flavors, coloring, or preservatives and cannot be more than minimally processed. On non-meat products, the term “natural” is typically pure propaganda.
The bottom line is that we must put our money and our principles where our values lie. Buy Certified Organic, not so-called natural products, today and everyday. And tell your retail grocer or co-op how you feel.
Ronnie Cummins is the National Director of the Organic Consumers Association.
“What has brought us here today is the belief that our current food system is broken… and we believe this system must be changed,” said Eric Schlosser, author of “Fast Food Nation” and co-producer of “Food, Inc,” at the Future of Food Conference last Wednesday at Georgetown University. Organized by Washington Post Live, this conference brought together policymakers, scientific experts, advocates and food company leaders to think about how to fix the food system. Read an article by Mara Schechter
ORGANIC FARMERS AND SEED SELLERS SUE MONSANTO TO PROTECT THEMSELVES FROMPATENTS ON GENETICALLY MODIFIED SEED: Preemptive Action Seeks Ruling
That Would Prohibit Monsanto From Suing Organic Farmers and Seed Growers
If Contaminated By Roundup Ready Seed
NEW YORK – March 29, 2011 – On behalf of 60 family farmers, seed
businesses and organic agricultural organizations, the Public Patent
Foundation (PUBPAT) filed suit today
Monsanto Company to challenge the chemical giant’s patents on
genetically modified seed. The organic plaintiffs were forced to sue
preemptively to protect themselves from being accused of patent
infringement should they ever become contaminated by Monsanto’s
genetically modified seed, something Monsanto has done to others in the
The case, Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association, et al. v. Monsanto,
was filed in federal district court in Manhattan and assigned to Judge
Naomi Buchwald. Plaintiffs in the suit represent a broad array of
family farmers, small businesses and organizations from within the
organic agriculture community who are increasingly threatened by
genetically modified seed contamination despite using their best efforts
to avoid it. The plaintiff organizations have over 270,000 members,
including thousands of certified organic family farmers.
“This case asks whether Monsanto has the right to sue organic farmers
for patent infringement if Monsanto’s transgenic seed should land on
their property,” said Dan Ravicher, PUBPAT’s Executive Director and
Lecturer of Law at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York. “It
seems quite perverse that an organic farmer contaminated by transgenic
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
Once released into the environment, genetically modified seed
contaminates and destroys organic seed for the same crop. For example,
soon after Monsanto introduced genetically modified seed for canola,
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, PUBPAT is asking Judge Buchwald to declare that if organic
farmers are ever contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically modified seed,
they need not fear also being accused of patent infringement. One
reason justifying this result is that Monsanto’s patents on genetically
modified seed are invalid because they don’t meet the “usefulness”
requirement of patent law, according to PUBPAT’s Ravicher, plaintiffs’
lead attorney in the case. Evidence cited by PUBPAT in its opening
filing today proves that genetically modified seed has negative economic
and health effects, while the promised benefits of genetically modified
seed – increased production and decreased herbicide use – are false.
“Some say transgenic seed can coexist with organic seed, but history
tells us that’s not possible, and it’s actually in Monsanto’s financial
interest to eliminate organic seed so that they can have a total
monopoly over our food supply,” said Ravicher. “Monsanto is the same
chemical company that previously brought us Agent Orange, DDT, PCB’s and
other toxins, which they said were safe, but we know are not. Now
Monsanto says transgenic seed is safe, but evidence clearly shows it is
The plaintiffs in the suit represented by PUBPAT are: Organic Seed
Growers and Trade Association; Organic Crop Improvement Association
International, Inc.; OCIA Research and Education Inc.; The Cornucopia
Institute; Demeter Association, Inc.; Navdanya International; Maine
Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association; Northeast Organic Farming
Association/Massachusetts Chapter, Inc.; Northeast Organic Farming
Association of Vermont; Rural Vermont; Ohio Ecological Food & Farm
Association; Southeast Iowa Organic Association; Northern Plains
Sustainable Agriculture Society; Mendocino Organic Network; Northeast
Organic Dairy Producers Alliance; Canadian Organic Growers; Family
Farmer Seed Cooperative; Sustainable Living Systems; Global Organic
Alliance; Food Democracy Now!; Family Farm Defenders Inc.;
Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund; FEDCO Seeds Inc.; Adaptive Seeds,
LLC; Sow True Seed; Southern Exposure Seed Exchange; Mumm’s Sprouting
Seeds; Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co., LLC; Comstock, Ferre & Co., LLC;
Seedkeepers, LLC; Siskiyou Seeds; Countryside Organics; Cuatro Puertas;
Interlake Forage Seeds Ltd.; Alba Ranch; Wild Plum Farm; Gratitude
Gardens; Richard Everett Farm, LLC; Philadelphia Community Farm, Inc;
Genesis Farm; Chispas Farms LLC; Kirschenmann Family Farms Inc.;
Midheaven Farms; Koskan Farms; California Cloverleaf Farms; North
Outback Farm; Taylor Farms, Inc.; Jardin del Alma; Ron Gargasz Organic
Farms; Abundant Acres; T & D Willey Farms; Quinella Ranch; Nature’s Way
Farm Ltd.; Levke and Peter Eggers Farm; Frey Vineyards, Ltd.; Bryce
Stephens; Chuck Noble; LaRhea Pepper; Paul Romero; and, Donald Wright
Many of the plaintiffs made statements upon filing of the suit today.
Jim Gerritsen, a family farmer in Maine who raises organic seed and is
President of lead plaintiff Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association
based in Montrose, Colorado, said, “Today is Independence Day for
America. Today we are seeking protection from the Court and putting
Monsanto on notice. Monsanto’s threats and abuse of family farmers
stops here. Monsanto’s genetic contamination of organic seed and
organic crops ends now. Americans have the right to choice in the
marketplace – to decide what kind of food they will feed their families
– and we are taking this action on their behalf to protect that right to
choose. Organic farmers have the right to raise our organic crops for
our families and our customers on our farms without the threat of
invasion by Monsanto’s genetic contamination and without harassment by a
reckless polluter. Beginning today, America asserts her right to justice
and pure food.”
Dr. Carol Goland, Ph.D., Executive Director of plaintiff Ohio Ecological
Food & Farm Association (OEFFA) said, “Consumers indicate,
overwhelmingly, that they prefer foods made without genetically modified
organisms. Organic farms, by regulation, may not use GMOs, while other
farmers forego using them for other reasons. Yet the truth is that we
are rapidly approaching the tipping point when we will be unable to
avoid GMOs in our fields and on our plates. That is the inevitable
consequence of releasing genetically engineered materials into the
environment. To add injury to injury, Monsanto has a history of suing
farmers whose fields have been contaminated by Monsanto’s GMOs. On
behalf of farmers who must live under this cloud of uncertainty and
risk, we are compelled to ask the Court to put an end to this
unconscionable business practice.”
Rose Marie Burroughs of plaintiff California Cloverleaf Farms said, “The
devastation caused by GMO contamination is an ecological catastrophe to
our world equal to the fall out of nuclear radiation. Nature, farming
and health are all being affected by GMO contamination. We must protect
our world by protecting our most precious, sacred resource of seed
sovereignty. People must have the right to the resources of the earth
for our sustenance. We must have the freedom to farm that causes no
harm to the environment or to other people. We must protect the
environment, farmers livelihood, public health and people’s right to non
GMO food contamination.”
Ed Maltby, Executive Director of plaintiff Northeast Organic Dairy
Producers Alliance (NODPA) said, “It’s outrageous that we find ourselves
in a situation where the financial burden of GE contamination will fall
on family farmers who have not asked for or contributed to the growth of
GE crops. Family farmers will face contamination of their crops by GE
seed which will threaten their ability to sell crops as organically
certified or into the rapidly growing ‘Buy Local’ market where consumers
have overwhelmingly declared they do not want any GE crops, and then
family farmers may be faced by a lawsuit by Monsanto for patent
infringement. We take this action to protect family farms who once
again have to bear the consequences of irresponsible actions by Monsanto.”
David L. Rogers, Policy Advisor for plaintiff NOFA Vermont said,
“Vermont’s farmers have worked hard to meet consumers’ growing demand
for certified organic and non-GE food. It is of great concern to them
that Monsanto’s continuing and irresponsible marketing of GE crops that
contaminate non-GE plantings will increasingly place their local and
regional markets at risk and threaten their livelihoods.”
Dewane Morgan of plaintiff Midheaven Farms in Park Rapids, Minnesota,
said, “For organic certification, farmers are required to have a buffer
zone around their perimeter fields. Crops harvested from this buffer
zone are not eligible for certification due to potential drift from
herbicide and fungicide drift. Buffer zones are useless against pollen
drift. Organic, biodynamic, and conventional farmers who grow
identity-preserved soybeans, wheat and open-pollinated corn often save
seed for replanting the next year. It is illogical that these farmers
are liable for cross-pollination contamination.”
Jill Davies, Director of plaintiff Sustainable Living Systems in Victor,
Montana, said, “The building blocks of life are sacred and should be in
the public domain. If scientists want to study and manipulate them for
some supposed common good, fine. Then we must remove the profit motive.
The private profit motive corrupts pure science and increasingly
precludes democratic participation.”
David Murphy, founder and Executive Director of plaintiff Food Democracy
Now! said, “None of Monsanto’s original promises regarding genetically
modified seeds have come true after 15 years of wide adoption by
commodity farmers. Rather than increased yields or less chemical usage,
farmers are facing more crop diseases, an onslaught of
herbicide-resistant superweeds, and increased costs from additional
herbicide application. Even more appalling is the fact that Monsanto’s
patented genes can blow onto another farmer’s fields and that farmer not
only loses significant revenue in the market but is frequently exposed
to legal action against them by Monsanto’s team of belligerent lawyers.
Crop biotechnology has been a miserable failure economically and
biologically and now threatens to undermine the basic freedoms that
farmers and consumers have enjoyed in our constitutional democracy.”
Mark Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst for plaintiff The Cornucopia
Institute said, “Family-scale farmers desperately need the judiciary
branch of our government to balance the power Monsanto is able to wield
in the marketplace and in the courts. Monsanto, and the biotechnology
industry, have made great investments in our executive and legislative
branches through campaign contributions and powerful lobbyists in
Washington. We need to court system to offset this power and protect
individual farmers from corporate tyranny. Farmers have saved seeds
since the beginning of agriculture by our species. It is outrageous
that one corporate entity, through the trespass of what they refer to as
their ‘technology,’ can intimidate and run roughshod over family farmers
in this country. It should be the responsibility of Monsanto, and
farmers licensing their technology, to ensure that genetically
engineered DNA does not trespass onto neighboring farmland. It is
outrageous, that through no fault of their own, farmers are being
intimidated into not saving seed for fear that they will be doggedly
pursued through the court system and potentially bankrupted.”
The Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) is a not-for-profit legal services
organization affiliated with the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.
PUBPAT protects freedom in the patent system by representing the public
interest against undeserved patents and unsound patent policy. More
information about PUBPAT is available from www.pubpat.org.