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PUBPAT NEWS. Organic Farmers and Seed Sellers Sue Monsanto To Protect Themselves From Patents On Genetically Modified Seed


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
( against
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
our clients.”

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
Patterson, Jr.

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


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Links to Articles Related to Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association et al vs. Monsanto Lawsuit

Lexology “Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association v. Monsanto Co.” Compares Canadian & American Law.

Food Integrity Now. Breaking News: OSGATA v. Monsanto Case Filed With Supreme Court. Audio Interview (26:09) with Jim Gerritsen. (09/05/13)

Food First. What’s for Dinner? Jim Gerritsen speaking about OSGATA v. Monsanto Appeal prior to Jan 10, 2013 court date. OSGATA President Audio Interview (30:00) by Susan Youmans. (01/09/13)

Facebook. Holli Cederholm, organic farmer and General Manager of OSGATA. OSGATA General Manager Holli Cederholm Video (1:44) (01/12/13)

Facebook. Dan Ravicher addresses the citizens assembly in D.C. Lawyer Dan Ravisher Video (5:06) at Citizen’s Assembly. (01/12/13)

Pen Bay Pilot. Small farmer optimistic in battle with biotech giant Monsanto. Jan 10 Court of Appeals OA. (1/11/12)

Sow True Seeds. Video From The Frontlines OSGATA et al v. Monsanto. Video (4:43) on Washington DC Citizen’s Assembly. (01/15/13)

OSGATA. Plaintiff-Farmers Travel to DC to Attend OSGATA et. al. v. Monsanto Oral Argument. OSGATA Report on OVM OA. (01/22/13)

Common Dreams. Farmers Rally at White House to Protest Monsanto’s GMO Empire. Jan 10 Oral Argument. (01/11/13)

Bangor Daily News. Farmers present case gainst Monasnto in D.C. US Court of appeals Oral Argument Jan 10. (01/11/13)

FSRN. Farmers challenge Monsanto in federal court over GMO seeds, seek legal protection. Report of Jan 10 Oral Argument. (01/10/13)

PenBay  Pilot. ‘It’s important’. Tribute to Russell Libby (01/18/13)

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Audio (38:32) Recording of 1/10/13 OVM Oral Argument. (1/10/13) Jim Gerritsen” 6 :19 min. Video of Jim Speaking Outside Oral Argument. (01/11/13)

Al Jazeera. Monsanto versus the people. (01/14/13)

AG Professional. Court sets date for hearing of lawsuit against Monsanto. Farmers to Assemble in Washington DC. (11/27/12)

Valley Advocate. Patently Problematic. Massachusetts View on OVM. (08/17/12)

WERU. Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association et al v. Monsanto. Interview with Jim Gerritsen. (07/19/12)

Wood Prairie Farm. A Petition to Support Organic Family Farmers. Petition & 1143 Comments. (05/31/12)

Gourmet. Seeds of Discontent. Gourmet Coverage of OSGATA et al v. Monsanto. (04/25/12)

Natural News. Farmers defend their right to grow food: Appeal filed in family farmers vs. Monsanto case. Update on Appeal. (04/19/12)

Blog Talk Radio. Jim Gerritsen – Organic Farmers Appeal OSGATA VS Monsanto. Audio Interview (56:25) by Host June Stoyer. (04/11/12)

Food and Drink Digital. Monsanto Threatens to Sue Vermont for GMO Labeling Bill. Connection With OSGATA v. Monsanto. (04/09/12)

Bangor Daily News. Maine farmer leads organic growers’ continued fight against Monsanto. Maine’s Largest Newspaper. (03/29/12)

Huffington Post. Monsanto Lawsuit: Organic Farmers Appeal U.S. District Court Decision. Coverage by Carey Gillam.  (03/28/12)

Reuters. Update 1-US Organic Growers Appeal Lawsuit Against Monsanto. International Coverage. (03/28/12)

Portland Press Herald. Organic farmers appeal decision in Monsanto lawsuit. Maine Coverage. (03/28/12)

National Catholic Reporter. Farmers, Protestors Struggle Against GMO Giant Monsanto. Good Article Provides Perspective on Movement Resisting Monsanto.(03/16/12)

PUBPAT. OSGATA v. Monsanto: Protecting Farmers From Seed Patents. Lawsuit portion of MPBN television interview (9:28). (03/12/12)

Natural News. Support the more than 300,000 organic farmers who lost their court battle to Monsanto – Sign the Heartfelt petition to OSGATA today!  Includes Links to Two Petitions. (03/05/12) The Hidden Email the White House hopes to Keep Under Wraps White House / Biotech Ties At Issue. (03/06/12)

Kentucky Journal of Equine, Agriculture, Natural Resources Law. “Challenging the GMO Giants: OSGATA v. Monsanto Co.” Concise Footnoted History. (03/10/12)

MPBN. “Monsanto Lawsuit” Nine MInute interview of Jim Gerritsen begins (16:25). (03/08/12)

PR Watch. “Rampant GMO Contamination Unchecked by Judge” Background on Farmer Threat. (03/05/12)

Wake Up World. “Heartfelt Letter to the Farmres, Seed Growers and Farm Groups Whose Court Battle Was Dismissed Against Monsanto” Letter of Support from Australia. (02/29/12)

Portland Press Herald. “Organic farmers lament dismissal of lawsuit” Article on MTD Ruling. (02/29/12)

Wood Prairie Farm Seed Piece. “Judge Sides With Monsanto: Ridicules Farmers’ Right to Grow Food Without Fear, Contamination and Economic Harm.” Judge’s Ruling of 2/24/12.

Includes Video (3:57) of Foley Square. Huffington Post. WATCH: Organic Farmers Sue Monsanto, Hundreds Converge in Support. (2/23/12)

Archived Interview (23:00) begins at 11:48AM. WZBC. ‘Sounds of Dissent’ WZBC Radio Interview OSGATA v. Monsanto. (2/18/12)

Coverage of NYC Jan 31, 2012. Food Democracy Now. FDN Video (3:04) I Stand With Farmers Vs. Monsanto. (02/17/12)

Good explanation of “inadvertent means” argument. Los Angeles Times. Organic farmers take on Monsanto over patent lawsuits. (02/17/12)

Host June Stoyer interviews Jim Gerritsen. Blog Talk Radio. Jim Gerritsen – The Significance of SOGATA v. Monsanto. (02/16/12)


Grist. Farmers advance in their suit against Monsanto. Grist Article on Oral Argument. (02/10/12)


Fresh Perspective on OSGATA v. Monsanto. CSRWire. Organic Farmers Fight For Survival Against Monsanto. (02/08/12)

NY Times on OSGATA v. Monsanto. NY Times. Modified Crops Tap a Wellspring of Protest. (02/07/12)

OSGATA v. Monsanto. Interview with Three Plaintiffs. WBAI. WBAI Archives For Occupy Wall Street Radio. (02/01/12)

Farm Aid Feature. Farm Aid. Jim Gerritsen – Farm Aid. (01/31/12)

Events of January 31, 2012. YouTube. Video Report from NYC: Farmers v. Monsanto. (01/31/12)

Verbatim transcript of Jan 31, 2012 Oral Argument, OSGATA v. Monsanto (PDF | TXT)

India claims theft of public resource. Monsanto to face biopriacy charges in India. (01/09/12)
Excellent Audio Interview with our OSGATA v. Monsanto Lawyer. Daniel Ravicher (ALL-NEW). (01/08/12)
Mark Bittman Mentions OSGATA v. Monsanto. The New York Times. Mostly (But Not Entirely) Depressing Food Links. (12/09/11)
Good background on OSGATA v. Monsanto. The Fine Print. Where the GMOs Grow. (12/18/11)
Manic Gardener Podcast (56:47) #1 Background OSGATA v. Monsanto. The Manic Gardener. Upcoming podcast: Organics v. Monsanto. (12/16/11)
Podcast interview with Jim Gerritsen, OSGATA President. Ecotopia. Ecotopia #168: OSGATA v. Monsanto. (12/13/11)
Interview with OSGATA President about OSGATA v. Monsanto. Food Integrity Now. Jim Gerritsen, President of OSGATA sues Monsanto – E62.  (12/06/11)
Coverage of OSGATA v. Monsanto. The Portland Phoenix. Seeds of Evil. (11/23/11)
Maine Coverage of Lawsuit Against Monsanto. Portland Press Herald. Natural Foodie: Maine farmer heads group challenging genetics giant. (11/9/11)
Two Pertinent CBS News Videos about GMOs. PubPat. Monsanto Seed Patents.

Farmers to Monsanto: Save our seeds. Crosscut. 8/29/11

Farmers Respond to MTD. Food Freedom. 8/25/11

Major Utne Reader Article on Lawsuit. Utne Reader. 7/18/2011

New Details on Lawsuit. Nature News Blog. Organic farmers expand lawsuit against Monsanto. 06/03/11

Beyond Pesticides Post. Beyond Pesticides. Groups Join Lawsuit to Protect Against Monsanto’s GE Patents. 06/02/11

GMO Journal Article. GMO Journal. More Organic Growers Join the Suit Against Monsanto. 06/04/11

Excellent Article on Lawsuit. A Band of 60 Davids Challenges Monsanto, the Goliath, in Federal Court. 05/27/11

International Perspective.International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development. Organic Farmers Take Monsanto to Court. 

Thoughtful article.Grist. Reversing roles, farmers sue Monsanto over GMO seeds.03/31/11

More In-Depth Article. Huffington Post. Organic Farm Groups Sue Monsanto.03/31/11

New Engalnd Vantage. American Agriculturalist. Vermont, Massachusetts Groups Join ‘Sue Monsanto’ Crowd. 03/31/11

Lawsuit Article. Green Answers. Organic Farmers Sue Agricultural Giant Monsanto.03/31/11

Fast Article. Fast Company. Genetically Modified Showdown: Monsanto Sued By Organic Farmers. 03/31/11

North Dakota Vatage. Brief. INFORUM. Monsanto targeted by ‘preemptive’ lawsuit. 03/31/11

Brief. Includes Monsanto Response. Food Navigator USA. Organic farm groups file legal challenge against Monsanto. 03/31/11

Brief brief. Democracy Now. Organic Farmers, Dealers Sue Agri-Giant Monsanto over Patents. 03/31/11

St. Louis Vantage. St. Louis Today. Lawsuit challenges Monsanto patents on seed traits. 03/31/11

Canandian Vantage. Witless Monsanto Quotes. Leader Post. Organic grower suing Monsanto. 03/31/11

Audio Interview. Free Speech Radio News. Headlines for Wednesday, March 30, 2011. 03/30/11 

Includes Good Background. Change.Org. Organic Farmers Sue Monsanto Over Genetically Modified Seeds. 03/30/11

Includes Good Link. Intellectual Property Watch. US Farmers Sue Monsanto Over GMO Patents, Demand Right To Conventional Crops. 03/30/11

Family Farm Defenders Vantage. WisBusiness. Famiy Farm Defenders: Joins sixty others in filing suit against Monsanto’s patent. 03/30/11

Surrogate Monsanto Position. Hay & Forage Grower. Monsanto Responds To Organics Lawsuit. 03/30/11

Breif brief. Interesting Comments. Techdirt. Monsanto Sued By Organic Farmers Who Don’t Want To Be Accused Of Patent Infringement. 03/30/11

Good Background. Eat Drink Better. Organic Farm Group Sues Monsanto, Seeking Protection From GMO Contamination. 03/30/11

Includes Percy Schmeiser Content. The Atlantic. Fighting Fire With Fire, Farmers Sue Monsanto. 03/30/11

Briefest brief. St. Louis Business Journal. Farmers, seed firms sue Monsanto.03/30/11

Massachusetts Vantage. Mass High Tech. Mass. farming group hits Monsanto with lawsuit. 03/30/11

Friendly Perspective. Slashfood. Group Challenges Monsanto’s Patent on Genetically Modified Seeds. 03/30/11

Ohio Vantage. Farm and Dairy. Just in: OEFFA, organic orgs file suit against Monsanto, company braced to defend. 03/30/11

Snipets & References to Reuters. Creative Loafing. Organic farmers seek government protection from Monsanto. 03/30/11

Early Article. Bloomberg. Monsanto Sued by Organic Farmers Over Modified-Seed Patents. 03/29/11

One of the Earliest Reports. Reuters. Organic farmers sue, seek protection from Monsanto. 03/29/11

North Carolina View. Mountain Xpress. Local seed company joins lawsuit against Monsanto re: genetically modified seed. 03/29/11

Direct Monsanto Position. Monsanto. PUBPAT Allegations Are False, Misleading and Deceptive. 03/29/11

Oakhurst Dairy.Portland Press Herald.  Monsanto’s Vision of Biotech. 12/16/03

Articles About Monsanto




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Update. Organic Family Farmers Defend Their Right to Protect Themselves From Monsanto Patents.

NEW YORK – August 11, 2011 – 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.”

     The legal brief filed by our lawyer asserts, “This case is about real farmers and real seed businesses who wish to use and distribute organic and conventional seed, but who are at substantial immediate risk of being contaminated by Monsanto’s transgenic seed and then sued by Monsanto for patent infringement. It is no mere policy disagreement seeking an advisory opinion on hypothetical facts. Monsanto has undertaken one of the most aggressive patent assertion campaigns in history, including asserting its patents on transgenic seed against parties who, like Plaintiffs, never wanted to use or distribute such seed. As a result, each of the Plaintiffs is under constant fear of being contaminated by Monsanto’s transgenic seed and then sued by Monsanto for patent infringement. This fear is so severe for some of the Plaintiffs that they are completely forgoing growing certain crops that they easily could grow and would like to grow…      
     “Viewing all the circumstances in this case in the light of the purpose of the Declaratory Judgment Act shows that Plaintiffs indeed have standing and that Defendants’ motion lacks merit. Monsanto could easily make this case disappear by providing Plaintiffs a simple covenant not to sue. It would take no more than a single sentence on a single piece of paper and a single stroke of the pen. Monsanto’s failure to do so speaks louder than any stack of papers ever could. As such, Plaintiffs respectfully request that Monsanto’s motion be denied.”      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 Society, Organic Council of Ontario, Slow Food USA, and Virginia Independent Consumers and Farmers Association.

     The excellent and powerful amicii brief begins, “This case presents several issues of first impression, and the outcome will have repercussions for almost every American. While the Plaintiffs are at the most immediate risk of suit for patent infringement by Monsanto, the legal principles involved in this Court’s decision will have even broader ramifications…. And, ultimately, almost every American consumer somehow makes use of products made from corn, soybeans, canola, sugar beets, or cotton, all of which may implicate the scope and enforceability of Monsanto’s patents. The entire food chain is impacted by the spread of Monsanto’s patented crops….
     “Given the difficulties in minimizing GM contamination, farmers must make numerous decisions about which steps are worthwhile for them and which steps are not. They are not able to make these decisions based on their own and their customers’ interests, but must instead make these decisions with the threat of litigation against a giant corporation looming over their heads. The constant threat of a patent infringement suit by Monsanto creates significant, unquantifiable costs for the Plaintiff farmers and similarly situated farmers. Unless this Court allows this case to proceed, the Plaintiff farmers will face the choice of abandoning growing such crops or risking prosecution whenever Monsanto chooses.
     Monsanto’s motion to dismiss notes that its patented technology is self-replicating… Yet Monsanto wants the court to ignore the real-world repercussions of this fact. Monsanto seeks to reap all of the benefits of a patented seed – particularly the necessity for farmers to buy their products year after year indefinitely, since new seed is needed every single year – but to take no responsibility for the reality that its technology, by its very nature, induces others to infringe…
     “This problem is of Monsanto’s making. By developing a product that is self-replicating, and then marketing it to farmers across the country, Monsanto has ensured that no farmer can entirely avoid infringing. Monsanto has chosen to exploit this problem by an aggressive pattern of enforcement that has left farmers across the country in fear of an enforcement lawsuit even if they have no desire or intent to use the patented seeds. These farmers are placed in the position of abandoning growing valuable crops or investing significant time and effort in protective measures to try to minimize contamination. In the latter case, no matter what measures they take, the farmers still face the threat of a patent infringement lawsuit because of the impossibility of remaining completely GM-free. It is critical for both these farmers and for all the parties involved in the food chain, including the Amici, that this Court consider this case and provide a clear declaration of their rights.” 

     Jim is President of lead plaintiff Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association. Bryce Stephens is OSGATA Vice-President and Fedco Seeds is one of our OSGATA member companies. We have studied Monsanto’s litigation playbook and accordingly, their action which seeks to deny us our day in court comes as little surprise.  It is anticipated that the judge will rule on Monsanto’s motion to dismiss this Fall and we will certainly continue to keep you and the organic community informed about this monumental case.  Jim & Megan

The brief filed by the plaintiffs in opposition to Monsanto’s motion to dismiss isavailable here.
The amici brief filed in support of the plaintiffs is available here


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I can’t wipe this Stupid Grin off my face.

We thought we'd offer this link to a recent first person article written about the Aroostook County Maine potato harvest. "Seven days a week, all hours the sun shines and so many hours it doesn't, you sort, dig, pick and handle potatoes…This is harvest and there's work to be done…" Our own Wood Prairie Aroostook potato harvest ended Thursday evening as the rain began. It's been rainy and wet ever since and we're grateful to be done. Happy World Food Day everyone. Jim & Megan

I can’t wipe this Stupid Grin off my face.

Harvest in Aroostook County has a long-standing tradition of making honest young men out of gangly, pimply-faced boys and strong, hard-working young women out of teenaged girls. Harvest in Aroostook County can be a turning point for many young people, a serious of pivotal moments, usually occurring…


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Jim & I are working on the catalog today. Tomorrow everybody will work on making and shipping the October Potato Sampler and on Tuesday we will take another try at harvesting the carrots. Potato harvest is done. Next week we are going to Denmark on the UMO Grain farm field trip. See the article below




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ARS | Publication request: Control of Soilborne Potato Diseases Using Brassica Green Manures

We are going to plow down our Buckwheat cover crop this afternoon, and then plant Rapeseed. here is the research below:

Brassica species and related plants produce sulfur
compounds which break down in soil to produce volatile compounds that
are toxic to many soil organisms in a process called biofumigation.
Several Brassica crops used in crop rotations and as green manures have
been associated with reductions in soilborne pests and pathogens.
Selected Brassica crops, including canola, rape, oilseed radish,
turnip, yellow mustard, and Indian mustard, were evaluated for control
of various soilborne potato pathogens and diseases in culture,
greenhouse trials, and field trials on commercial potato farms.
Brassica crops inhibited growth of a variety of soilborne pathogens of

ARS | Publication request: Control of Soilborne Potato Diseases Using Brassica Green Manures

Brassica species and related plants produce sulfur compounds which break down in soil to produce volatile compounds that are toxic to many soil organisms in a process called biofumigation. Several Brassica crops used in crop rotations and as green manures …