In a truly unfortunate turn of events, the US Supreme Court has put an end to a lawsuit by the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, which, alongside over 80 non-GMO farmers, strove to overturn Monsanto’s ability to sue anyone who is found to have patented seeds growing amongst their crops.
The impact of this decision is truly troubling: Monsanto now has Supreme Court-approved power to sue at will whenever and wherever their seeds turn up. The agribusiness monolith has already filed over 140 lawsuits against farmers for planting its seeds without proper permissions, putting many American farmers in financial ruin.
The decision was reportedly based on a ‘promise’ by Monsanto not to sue farmers whose crops contained ‘traces’ of its seeds through no purposeful action. In June, the federal Court of Appeals, the decision of which the Supreme Court upheld, wrote that Monsanto’s patent enforcement rights would stand:
“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).'”
However, the definition of ‘traces’ has been established to mean less than one percent of the land. If even two percent of a farmer’s land contained plants patented by Monsanto, no matter how they got there, there would likely be trouble. Also, whether the patented plants arrived somewhere inadvertently or not may also be very difficult to prove and define.
Along with the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, the plaintiffs included independent seed companies, agriculture organizations and independent family farmers. They stated that the main purpose of their lawsuit was to ensure legal protection in case their crops were contaminated with Monsanto’s seeds. Sadly, the Court’s decision turned the other way.
Dave Murphy, the founder and executive director of Food Democracy Now!, summarized, “if Monsanto can patent seeds for financial gain, they should be forced to pay for contaminating a farmer’s field, not be allowed to sue them. Once again, America’s farmers have been denied justice, while Monsanto’s reign of intimidation is allowed to continue in rural America.”
While this is a crushing defeat for the anti-GMO community, the good news is, awareness of the potential dangers of GMOs is spreading like wildfire across America and around the world, and more and more people are opting to buy organic foods.
The pending GMO labeling legislation throughout over half of the United States sends a strong message that many of us want it disclosed where the GMOs are hiding, so that we can keep them far away from our families.
We hope that Monsanto’s ‘reign of intimidation’ has a clear end in the near future.
-The Alternative Daily