Organic Seed v. Monsanto
In March 2011, PUBPAT filed suit on behalf of 60 family farmers, seed businesses and organic agricultural organizations 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 past. 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. In June, 2011, 23 additional plaintiffs were added to the suit, bringing the total number to 83.
Rather than provide plaintiffs with a binding promise that they would never sue them for patent infringement upon contamination, Monsanto filed a motion to dismiss the case in July 2011. In February 2012, the District Court judge dismissed the case, siding with Monsanto and finding that the plaintiffs concerns over being contaminated with Monsanto's GMO seed and then accused of patent infringement were unreasonable, even though Monsanto has made such accusations in the past. In March 2012, Plaintiffs appealed the District Court's decision to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which scheduled oral argument in the case to be heard on January 10, 2013.
Watch Dan Ravicher, Executive Director of PUBPAT and counsel to plaintiffs in Organic Seed v Monsanto, discuss the lawsuit at the James Beard Foundation Food Conference:
PUBPAT encourages the public to not buy any products made with corn, soy, sugar, canola, cotton or alfalfa (this includes milk, as dairy cows eat alfalfa) unless you are certain it was made without any use of genetically modified seed. If you're not sure, call the manufacturer and ask. If they can't or don't give you a straight answer, then don't buy their product. The proponents of genetically modified seed have vigorously opposed labeling of genetically modified food here in America (although Europe and Asia have such labeling), so to make this effort easier on your fellow Americans, once you know whether certain products are derived from genetically modified seed or not, spread that information so others know. Increasing consumer awareness and demand for food not derived from genetically modified seed, even slightly, will increase the supply of the food we want, which will reduce prices and increase availability. If you want to purge genetically modified food from society, you can help do so every time you go to the grocery store or a restaurant. It's your money, spend it as you see fit.
You can also join the Just Label It campaign and tell the FDA that we have a right to know what's in our food.
Watch a CBS News report about the threat that genetically modified seed poses to organic farmers, including plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Monsanto, Tony Azevedo and Ward Burroughs, by contaminating their land:
Watch a CBS News report about Monsanto's history of accusing farmers who were contaminated by its genetically modified seed with patent infringement:
- OSGATA et al. v. Monsanto - AMENDED COMPLAINT (June 1, 2011)
- OSGATA et al. v. Monsanto - BRIEF BY PLAINTIFFS DEFENDING STANDING (August 11, 2011)
- OSGATA et al. v. Monsanto - AMICI BRIEF SUPPORTING PLAINTIFF STANDING (August 10, 2011)
- OSGATA et al. v. Monsanto - APPEALS BRIEF FILED BY PLAINTIFFS (July 5, 2012)
- OSGATA et al. v. Monsanto - NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS BRIEF FILED WITH COURT OF APPEALS SUPPORTING PLAINTIFFS (July 11, 2012)
- OSGATA et al. v. Monsanto - LAW PROFESSOR BRIEF FILED WITH COURT OF APPEALS SUPPORTING PLAINTIFFS (July 12, 2012)
- OSGATA et al. v. Monsanto - REPLY BRIEF FILED BY PLAINTIFFS (September 27, 2012)
- February 20, 2013: "Indiana Farmer Takes Seed-Giant Monsanto To Supreme Court" ~ NPR On Point with Tom Ashbrook
- January 11, 2013: "US Court Hears Organic Farmers' Appeal in Monsanto Case" ~ Organic News Community
- January 10, 2013: PUBPAT Asks Appeals Court to Reinstate Organic Seed Case Against Monsanto
- January 4, 2013: Family Farmers to Travel to Washington, D.C. to Take on Monsanto
- November 23, 2012: "Maine Farmers, Others Have Court Date To Refute Monsanto Ruling" - Morning Sentinel
- July 17, 2012: LANDMARK FAMILY FARMERS LAWSUIT GROWS: Prominent Allies Join Effort to Reinstate Challenge to Monsanto Patents
- July 5, 2012: FAMILY FARMERS CHARGE AHEAD IN BATTLE AGAINST MONSANTO: Ask Appeals Court to Reinstate Case Challenging Patents on Seed
- March 28, 2012: Farmers, Determined to Defend Right to Grow Food, File Appeal in OSGATA vs. Monsanto
- February 27, 2012: Judge Sides With Monsanto: Ridicules Farmers’ Right to Grow Food Without Fear, Contamination and Economic Harm
- February 8, 2012: "A Suit Airs Debate on Organic vs. Modified Crops" -- New York Times
- January 8, 2012: Hear Daniel Ravicher on WICN NPR The Business Beat About The Controversy Over Patents On Genetically Modified Seeds
- January 5, 2012: Organic Farmers' Suit Against Monsanto Goes to Hearing
- October 26, 2011: Yale Law School Hosts Speech by PUBPAT Executive Director, "Suing Monsanto: Intellectual Property, Genetic Contamination, and Farmers’ Rights"
- September 14, 2011: The National Heirloom Expo Hosts PUBPAT Executive Director Speech, "Organic Seed vs. Monsanto:The Lawsuit Challenging Patents On Seed"
- August 11, 2011: FARMERS AND SEED DISTRIBUTORS DEFEND RIGHT TO PROTECT THEMSELVES FROM MONSANTO PATENTS
- June 1, 2011: FAMILY FARMERS AMPLIFY COMPLAINT AGAINST MONSANTO'S GMOs, REINFORCING THEIR ARGUMENTS WITH ADDITIONAL PLAINTIFFS: Monsanto’s Failure to Provide Binding Legal Covenant To Protect Family Farmers Threatened by GMO Contamination Necessitates New Complaint
- March 29, 2011: ORGANIC FARMERS AND SEED SELLERS SUE MONSANTO TO PROTECT THEMSELVES FROM PATENTS ON GENETICALLY MODIFIED SEED: Preemptive Action Seeks Ruling That Would Prohibit Monsanto From Suing Organic Farmers and Seed Growers If Contaminated By Roundup Ready Seed