The Public Patent Foundation recently filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark case, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association et al v. Monsanto, in the hopes that the court would hear and reinstate the case of 73 American organic and conventional family farmers, seed businesses and public advocacy groups. Plaintiffs are seeking protection for America’s farmers from Monsanto’s patent infringement lawsuits, while also seeking to invalidate the patents on 23 of Monsanto’s GMO crops.
Earlier this month, Monsanto filed their opposition brief with the Supreme Court.
“In opposing our request that the Supreme Court take, and then reinstate, our case, Monsanto makes the same lame and untrue assertions that it made before,” said Daniel Ravicher, Executive Director of the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) and lead counsel to the plaintiffs in OSGATA et al v. Monsanto. “In our reply brief filed with the Supreme Court we point out precisely why Monsanto is wrong and that the case should be allowed to proceed,” said Ravicher.
In a June 10th ruling earlier this year, a three-judge panel at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., issued the ruling that plaintiffs are not entitled to bring a lawsuit to protect themselves from Monsanto’s transgenic seed patents “because Monsanto has made binding assurances that it will not take legal action against growers whose crops might inadvertently contain traces of Monsanto biotech genes” as stated anonymously on the company’s website.
Farmers find this ruling inconclusive and insufficient to protect their future economic interests since the Appeals court readily admitted that contamination from Monsanto’s genetically engineered crops is “inevitable.”
Despite dismissing the farmers’ and seed growers’ case, the Court of Appeals ruling found the likelihood of contamination significant enough to order by estoppel that Monsanto make good on its promise not to sue farmers that are “inadvertently contaminated with up to one percent of seeds carrying Monsanto’s patented traits.”
“As a seed grower, who has spent the past 37 years of my life protecting and maintaining the integrity of my seed stock to provide clean, wholesome food to my customers, I find it unconscionable that Monsanto can contaminate mine or my neighbors’ crops and not only get away with it, but potentially sue us for patent infringement,” said Jim Gerritsen, an organic seed farmer in Maine and OSGATA President. “The appeals court ruling fails to protect my family and our farm and has only complicated matters,” said Gerritsen.
Farmers expect to hear whether or not the U.S Supreme Court will hear their case next year and eagerly await their day in court.
Complete background on the OSGATA et al v. Monsanto lawsuit is available here.