By Rady Ananda
The latest group to challenge Monsanto is heading to the US Supreme Court, this time to seek a covenant not to sue when their crops become genetically contaminated.
The Organic Growers and Seed Traders Assn., et al. filed their petition for writ of certiorari on Sept. 5, appealing a lower court ruling that determined that Monsanto’s website and court statements promising not to sue rendered OSGATA’s action moot.
As discussed in Monsanto can still sue farmers for GMO contamination event, Monsanto promised not to sue only if one percent or less of the crops or seeds were contaminated, not a very likely scenario, as the OSGATA plaintiffs reasoned in their Supreme Court petition:
“However, Petitioners risk being contaminated in amounts much greater than 1%, and thus remain compelled to forgo full use of their land and adopt genetic testing of their seed supplies in order to avoid being accused of patent infringement by Respondents.”
Jim Gerritsen, an organic seed farmer in Maine and President of OSGATA, said, “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.”
Since 2011, OSGATA has led a suite of plaintiffs representing 300,000 individuals and 4,500 farms.
They also seek to overturn Monsanto’s patents as invalid on the grounds they cause more harm than good. Daniel Ravicher, Executive Director of the Public Patent Foundation and lead counsel for plaintiffs, explains the patent challenge:
“Monsanto’s patents on genetically engineered seed are invalid because they don’t meet the ‘usefulness’ requirement of patent law. Evidence cited in the plaintiffs’ court filings proves that genetically engineered seed has negative economic and health effects, while the promised benefits of genetically engineered seed – increased production and decreased herbicide use – are false.”
Therefore, “Monsanto’s transgenic seed patents are all invalid.”
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