Press Release - NOFA/Mass Sues Biotech Giant Monsanto

Michael Burns michael at fingerlakespermaculture.org
Wed Mar 30 16:18:01 EDT 2011


From: "Mindy Harris" <mindy at nofamass.org>

NOFA/Massachusetts
411 Sheldon Road
Barre, MA 01005
(978) 355-2853
www.nofamass.org

PRESS RELEASE
Tuesday, March 29, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Jack Kittredge, NOFA/Mass Policy Director (978) 355-2853 or
jack at nofamass.org

NOFA/Mass Sues Biotech Giant Monsanto

Suit Seeks Protection of Plaintiffs in Case of GMO Seed Contamination

NEW YORK - March 29, 2011 - On behalf of the Northeast Organic Farming
Association/Massachusetts Chapter, Inc. (NOFA/Mass) and others, the Public
Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) filed suit today against Monsanto Company to
challenge the chemical giant's patents on genetically modified seed. 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.
Plaintiffs in the suit represent a broad array of family farmers, small
businesses and organizations from within the organic and non-GMO agriculture
community who are increasingly threatened by genetically modified seed
contamination despite using their best efforts to avoid it.

"This case asks whether Monsanto has the right to sue organic and other
farmers for patent infringement if Monsanto's genetically modified seed should
land on their property," said Dan Ravicher, lead attorney in the case and
PUBPAT's Executive Director and Lecturer of Law at Benjamin N. Cardozo School
of Law in New York. "It seems quite perverse that a farmer contaminated by GM
seed could be accused of patent infringement, but Monsanto has made such
accusations before and is notorious for having sued hundreds of farmers for
patent infringement, so we had to act to protect the interests of our
clients."

Once released into the environment, genetically modified seed contaminates and
destroys organic seed for the same crop. Soon after Monsanto introduced
genetically modified seed for canola, for example, organic canola became
virtually extinct as a result of contamination. Organic corn, soybeans,
cotton, sugar beets and alfalfa now face the same fate, as Monsanto has
released genetically modified seed for each of those crops, too.  Monsanto is
developing genetically modified seed for many other crops, thus putting the
future of all food, and indeed all agriculture, at stake.

In the case, plaintiffs are asking the court to declare that if they are ever
contaminated by Monsanto's genetically modified seed; they need not fear also
being accused of patent infringement.  One basis for such a ruling would be
that Monsanto's patents on genetically modified seed are invalid because they
don't meet the "usefulness" requirement of patent law, according to Jack
Kittredge, NOFA/Mass Policy Director.

This lawsuit filing comes on the heels of a recent controversial USDA decision
to deregulate genetically modified alfalfa, the fourth largest crop grown in
the US and a major source of feed to the nation's meat producers. Arguments
against genetically modified food crops include concerns about lack of
long-term studies of its effects on human health, concerns for biodiversity
within our crop varieties, and contamination of crops grown by organic and
other non-GMO farmers.

The Northeast Organic Farming Association, NOFA/Mass http://www.nofamass.org/,
is a non-profit membership association dedicated to educating the public about
organic methods. The Public Patent Foundation, PUBPAT http://www.pubpat.org/,
is a not-for-profit legal services organization affiliated with the Benjamin
N. Cardozo School of Law. PUBPAT represents the public interest against
undeserved patents and unsound patent policy.

CONTACT:

PUBLIC PATENT FOUNDATION, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law (212)545-5337
<press at pubpat.org>

FULL TEXT OF THE SUIT:
http://www.pubpat.org/assets/files/seed/OSGATA-v-Monsanto-Complaint.pdf>

Jack Kittredge, Policy Director, NOFA/Mass (978)355-2853 or jack at nofamass.org

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