On March 31, 2012, a judge in the Southern District Court of New York will decide whether a class action lawsuit -- OSGATA et al. vs.Monsanto -- representing some 300,000 organic farmers against biotech giant Monsanto can proceed to trial.
In 2011, some 270,000 organic farmers from over 60 family farms tried to sue Monsanto over the matter of genetically modified seed produced by the company, but were unable to afford mounting legal fees. In a twist that seems almost too bizarre to be believe, Monsanto has steadfastly been suing organic farmers since 1997, for infringing on their patented seed, of which trace amounts were detected under inspection, and which pollinated naturally. Between 1997 and 2010, Monsanto sued 144 organic farms, using "seed police" during a reign of agricultural terror. Many small farms were bought out by Monsanto, which increased their profit margins tremendously. But other are holding on, and now fighting back, with the support of Farm Aid founder and music legend Willie Nelson, who launched Farm Aid in the 1980s, and who has said that the situation today is far worse than he could have imagined when he began fighting for American farmers rights two decades ago.
The 300,000 organic farmers and non organic farmers represented in the suit are seeking pre-emptive protection against these lawsuits, and hope that this time the giant company will be forced by public awareness and protest, to stop its destructive and harrassive practices. Monsanto's attorneys have asked that the suit be dismissed, and the judge's decision is due at the end of March 2012. The plaintiffs claim that Monsanto's transgenic, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are contaminating organic crops with genetic material, causing them to lose value.
"We've been farming organically for 35 years, and we're very concerned with being able to continue on with our livelihood," says Jim Gerritsen, President of the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Ass., in a Feb 17 article in the LA Times by Dean Kuipers. "...The organic market will not tolerate anything that has GMO content, either by design or by contamination." Monsanto claimed in a statement to the LA Times that it "never has" and "never will" sue a farmer, "...if our patented seed or traits are found in his field as a result of inadvertent means."
But Dan Ravicher, the lead attorney on the suit, decodes the misrepresentation in the LA Times article, explaining that Monsanto's use of the word "inadvertent" means they may sue farmers who have not by their estimate adequately set up buffer zones on their property, to protect against contamination.
"In other words," writes Kuipers, "it's the responsibility of the non-GMO farmer to keep the GMO off his farm."
Invoking the burgeoning Occupy Movement, which now includes a faction called "Occupy The Food Supply" that is focusing on this and other problems of agricultural biotech industries, Willie Nelson penned a poem for You Tube with these lines: "We stand with Humanity, against the Insanity, We're the ones we've been waiting for...We're the Seeds and we're the Core, We're the ones we've been waiting for...We're the ones with the 99%."
Watch the video and find out how you can get involved locally, to help America's Farmers grow their crops in peace!
This video was produced by Food Democracy Now
For more information visit their website at: www.fooddemocracynow.org