Sunday, March 4, 2012

Canadian Organic Growers Stand Up to Monsanto

On January 31st in New York City, the Canadian Organic Growers (COG) took part in the first phase of a court case filed to protect farmers from Monsanto’s GMO seed, which contaminates organic and non-GMO farmer's crops and opens them up to abusive lawsuits.
COG board member and organic farmer, Arnold Taylor, represented thousands of organic farmers across Canada at the oral arguments on Monsanto’s pre-trial dismissal motion claiming the 83 plaintiffs in the case have no judicially worthy complaint against the defendant.
“When Monsanto actively reserves the right to sue organic and non-GMO farmers, it’s critical to stand up to these bullying tactics,” said Taylor. “Hundreds of farmers have already been sued by Monsanto, including many in Canada. This is a serious matter.”
Unfortunately, Judge Naomi Buchward of the Federal District Court of Southern New York sitting in New York City, sided with Monsanto to dismiss the case. The Court granted Monsanto's motion to dismiss, calling plaintiffs' allegations "diaphanous" and the complaint "a transparent effort to create a controversy where none exists."
The lawsuit was originaly filed in March 2011 by Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT), a not-for-profit legal services organization, on behalf of 36 farm organizations in North America, representing hundreds of thousands of producers, 14 seed companies, and 33 individual farms or farmers (83 total plaintiffs).  The pre-emptive lawsuit seeks to limit Monsanto’s legal rights to sue organic and non-GMO producers if found to be contaminated with GMO seed. Monsanto subsequently requested the lawsuit be dismissed, claiming the legal action to be a “publicity stunt”.
“Monsanto’s patents are detrimental to our member’s livelihoods and we must protect ourselves,” said Beth McMahon, Canadian Organic Growers’ Executive Director. “We already have significant measures to mitigate for inadvertent GMO contamination of organic crops through the Canadian Organic Standards. This case is not about "creating controversy", but upholding the fundamental rights of farmers to save seed and grow crops without threat of lawsuit.”
Genetically modified crops have already had a significant impact on Canadian organic growers, including the near eradication of commercial organic canola. Once released into the environment, it is impossible to recall GMO seeds, which are often carried by pollinators and wind currents for extensive distances. Monsanto's seed monopoly also controls the genetics of nearly 90% of five major commodity crops including corn, soybeans, cotton, canola and sugar beets.
The public is strongly encouraged to help support the Canadian Organic Growers by donating to the campaign. More information can be found at The Canadian Organic Growers also appreciates the support of the Organic Agriculture Protection Fund, which assisted with Taylor’s travel funds.

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