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article imageFamily farmers head to Washington to battle Monsanto in court

By Leigh Goessl     Jan 7, 2013 in World
Washington - Dozens of farmers are traveling across the country to Washington, DC to battle Monsanto in a U.S. Court of Appeals. The journey is to fight for the right for farmers to grow crops without interference from the corporate giant.
This week family farmers from across the U.S. travel to Washington in order to fight for the right to farm without interference from Monsanto and its GMO seeds in a U.S. Appeals Court.
The plaintiff is fighting a battle to maintain farming enterprises through the planting, growing and harvesting of natural foods without contamination from GMO seeds. This lawsuit includes both organic and non-organic farmers who seek court protection for farmers who are contaminated by Monsanto's patented and genetically modified seeds.
"Plaintiffs in this matter represent farmers and seed businesses who do not want to use or sell transgenic seed. Plaintiffs are largely organic farmers and organic seed businesses, but also include nonorganic farmers who nonetheless wish to farm without transgenic seed. Plaintiffs are increasingly being threatened by transgenic seed contamination despite using their best efforts to avoid it," the lawsuit [PDF] states.
The case was filed on behalf of hundreds of thousands of organic and non-GMO farmers. According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff represents 36 agriculture and food safety membership organizations, 14 seed businesses and 33 farms and farmers. The case was originally initiated in early 2011, but in Feb. 2012 was dismissed by U.S. Federal Court.
Monsanto has historically brought legal action against some farmers for patent infringement of its seeds. One of the problems is that the patented seeds literally blow into neighboring farms that are not using these specially formulated seeds. The lawsuit refers to this as Monsanto committing "trespass" on the property of farmers not using the GMO seeds.
Monsanto says on its website, the company's "primary reason for enforcing its patents is to ensure a level playing field for the vast majority of honest farmers who abide by their agreements, and to discourage using technology illegally to gain an unfair advantage."
Many farmers say they are not interested in Monsanto's technology.
"Our farmers want nothing to do with Monsanto," said Maine certified organic seed farmer, Jim Gerritsen, President of lead Plaintiff Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA), in a recent press release. "We are not customers of Monsanto. We don't want their seed. We don't want their gene-spliced technology. We don't want their trespass onto our farms. We don't want their contamination of our crops. We don't want to have to defend ourselves from aggressive assertions of patent infringement because Monsanto refuses to keep their pollution on their side of the fence. We want justice."
Dave Murphy, founder and executive director of Food Democracy Now! said it is time to end Monsanto's campaign and legal threats against farmers.
"Farmers have planted and saved seeds for more than 10,000 years without interruption until Monsanto's genetically engineered seeds entered the market in 1996. Almost immediately Monsanto began a campaign of harassment against America's farmers, trespassing on their land and launching frivolous patent infringement lawsuits," said Murphy.
Monsanto claims that there are farmers who have admitted to saving the seed illegally. "The vast majority of farmers who are presented with facts showing infringement admit the violation and pay a settlement," according to the company's website.
The hearing is scheduled to take place on Thurs., Jan 10 in the 10th US Court of Appeals. A Citizen's Assembly to support the family farmers is scheduled to take place at 10 a.m. in Lafayette Square, the same time the Oral Argument is scheduled to begin.
Please visit this page for more Digital Journal coverage on Monsanto and GMO foods.
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