Around 300,000 organic farmers think that Monsanto, the biotech giant known for genetically modifying Mother Nature’s handwork for profit and pushing over the little guys all the while, is pretty seedy.
Now a judge in New York is debating if Monsanto’s questionable methods will go before a jury.
Judge Naomi Buchwald of the Southern District Court of New York says she will have a decision on March 31 in regards to whether a lawsuit waged against the mega-corporation Monsanto should make it to trial.
Last year, 270,000 organic farmers from around 60 family farms tried to take Monsanto to court over issues pertaining to a genetically-modified seed masterminded by the corporation. Not only were the smaller farms concerned over how the manufactured seeds had been carried by wind and creature alike onto their own plantations, but the biggest problem perhaps was that Monsanto was filing lawsuits themselves against farmers. Monsanto went after hundreds of farmers for infringing on their patented seed after audits revealed that their farms had contained their product — as a result of routine pollination by animals and acts of nature. Unable to afford a proper defense, competing small farms have been bought out by the company in droves. As a result, Monsanto saw their profits increase by the hundreds of millions over the last few years as a result. Between 1997 and 2010, Monsanto tackled 144 organic farms with lawsuits and investigated roughly 500 plantations annually during that span with a so-called “seed police.”
Farmers have been concerned that unless Monsanto is stopped, their reign over the world’s agriculture will surpass anything imaginable. They are seeking pre-emptive protection from those questionable lawsuits and next month Judge Buchwald will weigh in on if the matter should go to trial. Her honor recently listened to oral arguments on Monsanto’s Motion to Dismiss, which the corporation hopes to win to cease the charges being brought by a total of 83 plaintiffs representing now over 300,000 organic farm-affiliated businesses. The legal team for the small-time farmers also offered their arguments.
“Monsanto's threats and abuse of family farmers stops here,” says Jim Gerritsen, president of the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association. “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.”
Elizabeth Archerd, the director of a Minneapolis food co-op, adds in support of the farmers to the New York Times, “Pollen and DNA do not play by the USDA’s rules.” Although hundreds of thousands of farmers feel the same way, it’ll take a judge to decide the next step in the case. From there though, things could get dirty. Michael Taylor, a former attorney for the US Department of Agriculture and lobbyist for Monsanto was recently appointed to a federal role as the deputy commissioner for foods at the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Since then, the FDA has refused requests to label genetically modified products as such despite demands from consumer protection groups.