Judge to hear Monsanto motion to dismiss organic coalition suit

By Sara Wyant

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WASHINGTON, January 4, 2012 -A New York federal judge granted Monsanto's request for oral arguments on the seed company's motion to dismiss an organic coalition's lawsuit against the biotech seeds and traits leader.

Eighty-three family farmers, small and family-owned seed businesses, and agricultural organizations filed the suit last March, challenging the validity of Monsanto's transgenic/GMO patents and any other transgenic patent, seeking court protection for family farmers who fear-but have not proven-that their production may become contaminated by the company's seeds and may be subject to legal action.

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“Plaintiffs are increasingly being threatened by transgenic seed contamination despite using their best efforts to avoid it,” the groups wrote in an amended complaint on June 1, 2011. “This causes Plaintiffs to fear that, if they do indeed become contaminated by transgenic seed, which may very well be inevitable given the proliferation of transgenic seed today, they could quite perversely also be accused of patent infringement by the company responsible for the transgenic seed that contaminates them. Thus, Plaintiffs bring this action to protect themselves from ever being accused of infringing patents on transgenic seed,”

They also claimed that transgenic seeds are not a “patentable invention,” citing an 1817 federal case in Massachusetts where the court held that patents should be denied to those products “injurious to the well-being, good policy or sound morals of society” and threaten to “poison people.” To download and read a copy of the complaint, click HERE.

U.S. District Judge Naomi Buchwald will hear oral arguments on the motion on Jan. 31.

Monsanto officials say they don't understand why the suit was brought in the first place and insist there's no real controversy between the parties.

“As we have stated clearly, Monsanto does not and will not pursue legal action against a farmer where patented seeds or traits are found in that farmer's field as a result of inadvertent means,” a company spokesman said in an email to Agri-Pulse.

Lead plaintiff, the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGTA) said in a statement that the group's legal counsel, a team from the Public Patent Foundation, is looking forward to orally presenting its position.


Original story printed in January 4, 2012 Agri-Pulse Newsletter.

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