Monsanto Sued Again
Posted by Jimmy Mengel - Tuesday, April 5th, 2011
“Monsanto is big. You can’t win. We will get you. You will pay.”
That ominous threat — allegedly from a Monsanto spook — was aimed at Gary Reinhart, a small country store owner.
Monsanto claimed Reinhart had planted the company's genetically modified seeds in violation of their patent. It was a surprise to Reinhart, but an all-too-familiar scene in farms across the country...
According to Vanity Fair:
Monsanto relies on a shadowy army of private investigators and agents in the American heartland to strike fear into farm country.
They secretly videotape and photograph farmers, store owners, and co-ops; infiltrate community meetings; and gather information from informants about farming activities.
Farmers say that some Monsanto agents pretend to be surveyors. Others confront farmers on their land and try to pressure them to sign papers giving Monsanto access to their private records. Farmers call them the 'seed police' and use words such as 'Gestapo' and 'Mafia' to describe their tactics"
Now in order to protect themselves from Monsanto's overreaching arm, a group of organic farmers have joined together to sue the agricultural giant.
The suit, Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association, et al. v. Monsanto, was filed by Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) on behalf of over 60 family farmers, organic agriculture organizations, and seed proprietors.
The group is seeking preemptive protection from patent infringement, should their crops ever become contaminated by Monsanto's genetically modified (GM) seeds.
It is common for Monsanto's GM crops to cross pollinate neighboring organic crop fields. So essentially, farmers can be sued for crops that they never even planted.
“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,” Dan Ravicher, PUBPAT's executive director, said in a statement.
Monsanto targets hundreds of farmers each year for possible lawsuits.
According to Sourcewatch, it's because of Monsanto's sheer financial might that the "odds are clearly stacked against the farmer":
Monsanto has an annual budget of $10 million dollars and a staff of 75 devoted solely to investigating and prosecuting farmers. The largest recorded judgment made thus far in favor of Monsanto as a result of a farmer lawsuit is $3,052,800.00. Total recorded judgments granted to Monsanto for lawsuits amount to $15,253,602.82. Farmers have paid a mean of $412,259.54 for cases with recorded judgments.
The lawsuit also claims that Monsanto's GM seed destroys the organic seed for the same crop.
Organic canola, for instance, became “virtually extinct as a result of contamination”...
The suit alleges that unless these protective measures are taken, the same fate could befall organic corn, soybeans, cotton, sugar beets, and alfalfa — all crops that Monsanto has released GM seed for.
Monsanto is dismissing the lawsuit as a “publicity stunt”.
This is certainly not Monsanto's first legal rodeo (you can read all about their sordid past here), so we'll be watching to see how this plays out...
The farmers are indeed caught in a David and Goliath scenario, and we can only hope that this lawsuit represents a mighty stone in their collective slingshot.