Last year, 83 organic family farmers decided to take on Monsanto in court to assert and protect their right to grow organic crops without the threat of contamination by Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds—and without the fear of being sued for crop contamination they never wanted in the first place.
But in February, a U.S. District Court judge sided with Monsanto and dismissed the case. This week, the family farmers responded by filing an appeal challenging that ruling. The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Manhattan will hear the farmers’ appeal, although the Bangor Daily News reports it will not be able to hear the case until this fall or winter.
According to the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA), the collective of farmers that sued Monsanto, the biotech and chemical giant admits to filing 144 lawsuits America’s family farmers between 1997 and 2010 and settling another 700 cases out of court. The OSGATA case seeks to challenge the constitutionality of Monsanto’s seed patents and protect farmers from accusations of stealing seeds.
In a statement, Dan Ravicher, Executive Director of the Public Patent Foundation, which represents the plaintiffs, said: “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."
In another statement, organic farmer and OSGATA president Jim Gerritsen said:
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.
“We need the courts to protect farmers and consumers from genetic trespass and pollution of our food chain,” said Will Fantle of The Cornucopia Institute. “This lawsuit is critical to the future of organic food and agriculture.”