On September 5, 2013, a group of 73 American organic and conventional family farmers, seed businesses and public advocacy groups asked the U.S. Supreme Court today to hear their case, known as OSGATA et al. v. Monsanto. The case challenges Monsanto’s patents on genetically engineered seed. It also acts to preemptively to protect the plaintiff-farmers from being accused of patent infringement should their fields ever become contaminated by the company’s genetically engineered seed- something Monsanto has done to others in the past.
Earlier this year, a three-judge panel at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that the 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 (because, for example, some transgenic seed or pollen blew onto the grower’s land).’”
“While the Court of Appeals correctly found that the farmers and seed sellers had standing to challenge Monsanto’s invalid patents, it incorrectly found that statements made by Monsanto’s lawyers during the lawsuit mooted the case,” said Daniel Ravicher, Executive Director of the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) and lead counsel to the plaintiffs in OSGATA et al v. Monsanto. “As a result, we have asked the Supreme Court to take the case and reinstate the right of the plaintiffs to seek full protection from Monsanto’s invalid transgenic seed patents.”
The plaintiffs brought the pre-emptive case against Monsanto in March 2011 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.
“We have been farming for almost forty years and we have never wanted anything to do with Monsanto,” said Jim Gerritsen, an organic seed farmer in Maine and President of lead Plaintiff OSGATA. “We believe we have the right to farm and grow good food the way we choose. We don’t think it’s fair that Monsanto can trespass onto our farm, contaminate and ruin our crops and then sue us for infringing on their patent rights. We don’t want one penny from Monsanto. American farmers deserve their day in Court so we can prove to the world Monsanto’s genetically engineered patents are invalid and that farmers deserve protection from Monsanto’s abuse.”
The Petition filed today by lawyers for the family farmers may be found here.