On Feb. 24, Judge Naomi Buchwald dismissed a lawsuit filed by Colorado-based Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) against Monsanto. But OSGATA is not giving up.
Before being dismissed, the lawsuit had been receiving worldwide attention and had become a rallying point for the Occupy movement.
The reason for the original lawsuit was to prevent Monsanto from being able to sue farmers whose organic crops had become contaminated by drift and other factors with the company’s patented genetically modified (GM) seeds. According to OSGATA, during the past 15 years, Monsanto has sued 144 American family farmers as well as settling an additional 700 cases out of court while imposing gag orders on those farmers.
But the farmers and seed companies who filed the original suit against Monsanto aren’t done. On March 28, in the Federal District Court in Manhattan, OSGATA filed a notice of appeal to Judge Buchwald’s dismissal, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has agreed to hear the farmers’ request to reinstate their case.
According to OSGATA’s website, “The farmers are determined to move forward with their lawsuit challenging Monsanto’s patents on genetically engineered seed technologies in order to continue their pursuit of Declaratory Judgment Act court protection from Monsanto’s claims of patent infringement should their crops become contaminated by Monsanto’s seed.”
“Farmers have the right to protect themselves from being falsely accused of patent infringement by Monsanto before they are contaminated by Monsanto’s transgenic seed,” said Dan Ravicher, executive director of the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT), a not-for-profit legal services organization based at the Benjamin N.
Cardozo School of Law that represents the plaintiffs. “Judge Buchwald erred by denying plaintiffs that right and they have now initiated the process of having her decision reversed.
“Farmers are under threat. Our right to farm the way we choose, and to grow pure organic seed and healthy food on our farms for our families and for our customers is under assault,” said Maine organic seed farmer Jim Gerritsen, president of OSGATA.
“We are honor-bound to challenge an erroneous ruling which denies family farmers the protection the law says we deserve. We’re not asking for one penny from Monsanto. Ultimately, our fight is for justice and is waged to defend the right of the people to have access to good and safe food.’”