Press Release: Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association vs. Monsanto

Family Farm and Consumer Organizations Speak Out in Lawsuit Against Monsanto

Fourteen Groups File “Friend of the Court” Brief


CAMERON, TX (July 13, 2012)—Fourteen family farm and consumer organizations have filed a friend of the court (amici curiae) brief with the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., in support of request by the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association to overturn a lower court’s ruling in favor of Monsanto Corporation in a case involving Monsanto’s genetically engineered seed.

The original suit, which was filed in March of last year in the Southern District of New York by a coalition of family farmers, seed businesses and agricultural organizations, asked the court to protect farmers from abusive lawsuits by Monsanto, which the company has a history of filing to protect their patents on GMO seed.

In their brief, the Amici organizations noted that Monsanto has “chosen to patent products that, by their very nature, will inevitably end up on the private property of people who have no desire to use them” noting that “for the first time in history, (farmers) can be sued for something as natural as pollen drift.”

“Farmers have abandoned their legal right to use their property or grow certain crops, out of fear of contamination by Monsanto’s patented seeds,” explained Judith McGeary, counsel for the amici and Executive Director of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance. “No matter how much a farmer doesn’t want to use GMO seeds, he remains at risk of being sued simply because his neighbors plant Monsanto’s crops.”

The brief notes that Monsanto has filed 144 lawsuits against farmers and settled approximately 700 others in just 13 years.

“In dismissing the case, the district court erred by relying heavily on the [Monsanto’s] unenforceable and vague ‘pledge’ not to sue for ‘trace’ levels of ‘inadvertent’ contamination, despite the lack competent evidence to support such claims,” the brief noted.

“But what is ‘trace’? And who gets to decide?” asked Ms. McGeary. “The district court essentially told the farmers that they had to simply trust this company that brags about its aggressive patent enforcement and, in the process, risk their farms and their livelihoods. We hope the Court of Appeals recognizes the fundamental unfairness of that position and reverses the district court’s opinion.”

The Amici organizations include: Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, Food and Water Watch, International Organic Inspectors Association, Maine Alternative Agriculture Association, Michigan Land Trustees, Natural Environmental Ecological Management, Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society, Organic Consumers Association, Slow Food USA, Virginia Association for Biological Farming, Virginia Independent Consumers and Farmers Association, and Wisconsin Natural Food Associates.

The brief of amici curiae is available online.

Read the judge’s dismissal of the case in February of 2012.

For more information, contact Judith McGeary, Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, or 512-484-8821