RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment

Gutknecht reports: "On July 5, 2012, seventy-five family farmers, seed businesses, and agricultural organizations representing over 300,000 individuals and 4,500 farms filed a brief with the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, DC, asking the appellate court to reverse a lower court's decision from February dismissing their protective legal action against agricultural giant Monsanto's patents on genetically engineered seed."

Organic farmers are among the plaintiffs suing Monsanto. (photo: Annie Corrigan/WFIU)
Organic farmers are among the plaintiffs suing Monsanto. (photo: Annie Corrigan/WFIU)

Farmers Fight Monsanto's Threats and Intimidation

By Dave Gutknecht, Co-operative News

21 August 12


major lawsuit against Monsanto was denied in at the district court and has been appealed. On July 5, 2012, seventy-five family farmers, seed businesses, and agricultural organizations representing over 300,000 individuals and 4,500 farms filed a brief with the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., asking the appellate court to reverse a lower court's decision from February dismissing their protective legal action against agricultural giant Monsanto's patents on genetically engineered seed.

The plaintiffs brought the pre-emptive case against Monsanto in March 2011 in the Southern District of New York (Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association et al. v Monsanto) and specifically seek to defend themselves from nearly two dozen of Monsanto's most aggressively asserted patents on GMO seed. They were forced to act pre-emptively to protect themselves from Monsanto's abusive lawsuits, fearing that if GMO seed contaminates their property despite their efforts to prevent such contamination, Monsanto will sue them for patent infringement.

Lead plaintiff in the suit (and the main source for this report) is the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (, a not-for-profit agricultural organization made up of organic farmers, seed growers, seed businesses and supporters. OSGATA is committed to developing and protecting organic seed and its growers in order to ensure the organic community has access to excellent quality organic seed – seed that is free of contaminants and adapted to the diverse needs of local organic agriculture.

Dangerous Drift

Seed and pollen can drift great distances, in some cases as far as 10-15 miles, increasing the likelihood of contamination of organic crops with genetics from Monsanto's laboratories. The latter seeds and crops are referred to as "transgenic," and have had DNA of foreign organisms inserted into their DNA through human engineered processes. The suit plaintiffs use and sell non-transgenic seed, more commonly referred to as heirloom, organic, or conventional seed.

In an attempt to sidestep the legal challenge, Monsanto moved to have the case dismissed, saying that the plaintiffs' concerns were unrealistic. In February 2012, the district court took Monsanto's side and dismissed the case, ridiculing the farmers in the process. Despite the fact that the plaintiffs are at risk for being contaminated by genetically modified seed and then sued for patent infringement by Monsanto, Judge Naomi Buchwald of the Southern District of New York dismissed the case, saying, "It is clear that these circumstances do not amount to a substantial controversy and that there has been no injury traceable to defendants."

Every year Monsanto investigates over 500 farmers for patent infringement with their now notorious "seed police." To date, according to OSGTA, 144 farmers have had lawsuits brought against them by Monsanto without a binding contract with the multinational corporation, while another 700 farmers have been forced to settle out of court for undisclosed sums.

"Monsanto is known for bullying farmers by making baseless accusations of patent infringement,'" said attorney Dan Ravicher of the not-for-profit legal services organization Public Patent Foundation, which represents the plaintiffs in the suit against Monsanto. "They've sued and harassed many other farmers who wanted nothing to do with their genetically modified seed, and now that organic and conventional farmers are fighting back, they claim they would never do such a thing without backing up their words with an enforceable promise."

"We have a right to farm the way we choose," said Maine organic seed farmer Jim Gerritsen, President of OSGATA. "Yet Monsanto is unwilling to control their GMO pollution, and they refuse to sign a binding covenant not-to-sue our family farmers for patent infringement should their seed contaminate our crops. Monsanto's publicized ‘Commitment' promising that they would not sue farmers was described by Monsanto's own lawyers as being ‘vague.' We will continue to pursue our right to farm, and the right of our customers to have access to good clean food and seed."

Some plaintiffs have simply stopped growing certain types of crops due to the threat of contamination. Dave Murphy, founder and executive director of Food Democracy Now (, a co-plaintiff in the suit, stated, "No company should be allowed to violate the property rights of America's farmers or threaten their livelihoods through the use of frivolous patent infringement lawsuits designed to control farmers and the food supply."

Organic Seed Finder Makes Sourcing Easier

In better news for organic growers, a new Organic Seed Finder project will serve as a valuable tool by providing reliable organic seed availability information. The project is hosted by the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies (AOSCA), and its data will be available to the general public. An August 21 webinar introducing the Organic Seed Finder was led by Chet Boruff, the CEO of AOSCA, and Kristina Hubbard, director advocacy and communications for the Organic Seed Alliance. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+106 # Lisa Moskow 2012-08-21 12:52
+26 # jlohman 2012-08-21 17:39
The truth is, I don't know if Monsanto's crap is good for us or bad for us. But I've hired a super review board -- congress -- and paid them well to study the issue.

Oh, you say. They take campaign bribes from Monsanto? Shit!!!
-1 # maddave 2012-08-22 19:54
No, not necessarily! What really ought to happen is to make Monsanto keep its GMO pollen contained within the fields in which the GMO crops are planted. A GMO condom, for instance, would certainly be effective --- Or maybe little bitty bee condoms.

In either case, this idea could spawn a whole new genre of farm laborers . . .
+74 # Barbara K 2012-08-21 13:05
If the farmers win, it is a win for all of us. We've been made ill for too long, and someone needs to stop Monsanto and the others NOW! They don't care if they kill us, to them it is just about the money, not us.
+50 # KittatinyHawk 2012-08-21 15:26
In order for farmers to win...WE have to buy local, buy responsibly, buy organic.

Let Farmers know you are supporting them.
+71 # patmonk 2012-08-21 13:09
On the California ballot this November.
+10 # KittatinyHawk 2012-08-21 15:28
Hopefully you will help again to set a standard.

It is so sad that so many different sites promote eating healthy, I wonder how many are doing anything to see it happen.

Our Natural Food Store does by going on Radio weekly. College radios are also speaking up. But how many here are buying responsibly?
+19 # Street Level 2012-08-21 15:49
Sign up, sign on, donate, endorse, support. We all need this to pass.
0 # jlohman 2012-08-22 07:53
Yea, I hear you talking. But I'd reaallly like to know if these GMOs are good for us or bad for us. Are there independent (of both sides) studies showing which?
0 # jamjr40 2012-08-22 12:34
JL - Check these out

The Institute of Responsible Technology -

American Academy of Environmental Medicine -
+61 # Guy 2012-08-21 13:14
Monsanto is a criminal organization that has left their fingerprints all over the world.They are the true definition of evil.
+60 # PABLO DIABLO 2012-08-21 13:16
Boycott ALL the companies opposing Prop 37 in California. Put them out of business before they kill us.
+26 # LeeBlack 2012-08-21 13:29
you can donate to the non-profit firm pursuing the law suit.
+4 # KittatinyHawk 2012-08-21 15:29
+54 # independentmind 2012-08-21 13:32
It's about time. I have never understood why Monsanto was able to sue farmers when it was their seed that contaminated the other's crop.
+23 # pbbrodie 2012-08-21 14:39
I agree. The suits should have been the other way around. The farmers should have been suing Monsanto for contaminating their crops with their garbage!!!
+5 # KittatinyHawk 2012-08-21 15:35
This is all since ReaGun that these Laws have gotten loopholes. Hopefully State by State we will reregulate our Moral Standards by protecting our Families from eating poison.
Groups worked so hard over fifty years to get laws in. Since ReaGun I see them trampled on even now. I blame Dems and Rethugs alike.

Let Monsanto, Dupont, Rethugs eat s____ and leave families alone. Where are the Churches standing on Poisoning American Families....? Should Fall under the Shalt Not Kill Commandment one would think? I guess farmers do not contribute enough unless they are Corporate but too many farmers always supported Rethugs...guess some of the goes around come around biting their butts
+11 # lamancha 2012-08-21 14:40
Yes, isn't that among the most insidious things perpetuated? To sue organuic farmers over pernicious seeds that drift over to their farms is so egregious, so outlandish & outrageous. Somehow we must support every anti-Monsanto entity that we hear about. Does anyone know a dept. at Monsanto to write and express outrage
and bitter hostility toward their filthy, degrading, perverse, punk-like organization?
+13 # colmo04 2012-08-21 14:49
Thanks a lot for this informative article. I get a lot of anti-Monsanto mail, alleging various outrages here and there including hundreds of farmer suicides in South America, but none have made it as clear as this article does as to what exactly Monsanto is doing.
+18 # karch 2012-08-21 15:57
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was an attorney for Monsanto but refuses to recuse himself from the case. Littered throughout the government are also Monsanto employees who move back and forth agencies and elected office. There are dozens of politicians who have worked for Monsanto in the high echelons of the government.
+11 # Trueblue Democrat 2012-08-21 16:14
Fat lot of good it will do to go before the Federal Appeals Court in DC. This court is and has for years been stacked with GOPer judges of the most insidious character -- stacked for the simple reason that a lot of hot button items come before it, and the judges there (like the ones at the Supreme Court) hang on forever until a Reagan or a Bush or worse comes along to appoint their successor. Not one vacancy has opened up during President Obama's term.

Right now it stands: GOPers 9, Democrats 4. You can bet that Monsanto has at least 8 votes locked up.

If the Farmers get a hearing, it will likely be so this court can endorse the asinine opinion of Judge Naomi Buchwald and heap more scorn on America's real farmers.
+10 # C. Winslow 2012-08-21 16:16
This is a contest between Monsanto and organic seed farmers. I would like to call attention to an additional contest, that between Monsanto and the farmers who grow seed for them. For conservatives out there, this is a contest between giant business and small business.

Many farmers, including one of my relatives, farm a thousand or more acres. They actually work the soil, repair machinery, plant, and harvest. Although they are farmers, they are also independent (small) businessmen. When they raise seed for Pioneer, DeKalb, etc., they are sometimes placed under very difficult restrictions. They must plant the seed shipped to them, maybe from Chili or Australia. If the seed is late, farmers must plant late, etc., etc. So Mr. Conservative, who do you support, local business running small farms or giant, globe-encirclin g, corporations radically following their profit lines. If Monsanto can purchase government, how is working for it different from working for government?
+23 # Eliza D 2012-08-21 18:50
It is so ironic that organic farmers,faced with a devastating drought and the financial losses sure to come, must now drag themselves to attorneys and meetings to protect what is their God-given right to grow what they want! Message to Monsanto: Like Jamie Frederickson,fr acking victim in Ohio, so eloquently stated: We will not stop fighting you! ...We are growing our own food, in greenhouses, if we must, to stop the contamination. If, God forbid, proposition 37 does not pass, then we'll raise money to help non-GMO food producers label THEIR products as SAFE and non-GMO. There is more than one way to skin a cat, and we will not stop! Got that?
+11 # abaconw48026 2012-08-21 19:16
Monsanto has to push those foods here since they are banned in some 30 different nations around the world. We need a commitment from our food sources to not buy genetically modified seeds, grow fooe from those seeds, not to try to sell that to us, and demand that food be marked as such.
+5 # chrisconnolly 2012-08-21 20:32
Monsanto is aggressively threatening our farmers through the courts, I wonder when they are going to employ their new acquisition (formerly Blackwater) against them. Why would a seed company need its own contract military? Are they the seed police or are they the next wave of enforcement?
+7 # lamancha 2012-08-22 00:53
Remember, GMO corn is on its way to a Walmart near you. Wouldn't it be great if some of us could picket their stores, call for a nationwide boycott and create publicity nationally? We might be able to save a few lives that way. How about a sign that says "Mourn the corn that will kill your unborn"
+3 # Susan1989 2012-08-22 08:47
Just another example of the military industrial complex tha Eisenhower warned us of...our government is so infiltrated with corruption that I fear it is too late for change.
+4 # rebelgroove 2012-08-22 12:40
I just realised how to determine the level of evil within an organization: it's based on the number of lawyers you retain ...
0 # terrabuilder 2014-02-22 14:35
Monsanto, DuPont, etc. are chemical companies, for this is how they make their money. Any allegations about stealing seed patents are blatantly unfounded, strictly on the basis that without their chemicals their seed(s) will not work.

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.