Monsanto Bound to Promise Not To Sue Organic Farmers

Dan Ravicher, PUBPAT

 

Today a decision was reached in the OSGATA et al. v. Monsanto lawsuit by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C.

The three-judge panel ruled that a group of organic- and otherwise non-GMO- farmer and seed company plaintiffs are not entitled to bring a lawsuit to protect themselves from Monsanto’s transgenic seed patents. This decision was accompanied with the following explanation that ”Monsanto has made binding assurances that it will not ‘take legal action against growers whose crops might inadvertently contain traces of Monsanto biotech genes (because, for example, some transgenic seed or pollen blew onto the grower’s land).’”

While today’s ruling affirmed the Southern District of New York’s previous decision, the Plaintiffs’ attorney Dan Ravicher, of the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT), views the decision as a partial victory.

“Before this suit, the Organic Seed plaintiffs were forced to take expensive precautions and avoid full use of their land in order to not be falsely accused of patent infringement by Monsanto,” said Ravicher. “The decision today means that the farmers did have the right to bring the suit to protect themselves, but now that Monsanto has bound itself to not suing the plaintiffs, the Court of Appeals believes the suit should not move forward.”

Maine organic seed farmer and President of OSGATA Jim Gerritsen said, “Even though we’re disappointed with the Court’s ruling not to hear our case, we’re encouraged by the court’s determination that Monsanto does not have the right to sue farmers for trace contamination. However, the farmers went to court seeking justice not only about contamination, but also the larger question of the validity of Monsanto’s patents. Justice has not been served.”

Despite the Court of Appeals’ Decision today the plaintiffs still have the right to ask the Supreme Court to review the Court of Appeals decision and ultimately reinstate the case. Ravicher said the Organic Seed plaintiffs are considering doing so.

Read the full press release here.

For complete background on the OSGATA et al v. Monsanto lawsuit, click here.

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