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Farmers Continue Fight Against Monsanto

Appeal filed to reverse Feb. decision allowing "Monsanto’s scorched earth legal campaign of threats and intimidation against America’s farmers" to continue

- Common Dreams staff

Organic farmers' fight against Monsanto continues as they filed an appeal against the agricultural giant on Thursday hoping to reverse a February decision dismissing their protective legal action against the company.

Seventy-five family farmers, seed businesses, and agricultural organizations originally filed suit in March 2011 in an act of self-protection against what Food Democracy Now!'s founder and executive director Dave Murphy calls "Monsanto's scorched earth legal campaign of threats and intimidation against America’s farmers." In this campaign, Monsanto has threatened and filed suit against farmers for patent infringement when its genetically modified seeds reach unsuspecting farmers' fields.

But in February 2012 a district court sided with Monsanto, dismissing farmers' unwanted genetic contamination of their crops and documented threats against the farmers by Monsanto.

Attorney Dan Ravicher of Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT), which is representing the plaintiffs, says that Monsanto's bullying practices are known. “They’ve sued and harassed many other farmers who wanted nothing to do with their genetically modified seed and now that organic and conventional farmers are fighting back, they claim they would never do such a thing without backing up their words with an enforceable promise.”

“We have a right to farm the way we choose,” said Maine organic seed farmer Jim Gerritsen, President of lead plaintiff Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA). “Yet Monsanto is unwilling to control their GMO pollution and they refuse to sign a binding covenant not-to-sue our family farmers for patent infringement should their seed contaminate our crops. Monsanto’s publicized ‘Commitment’ promising that they would not sue farmers was described by Monsanto’s own lawyers as being ‘vague.’"

"The law says we deserve protection under the Declaratory Judgment Act. We will continue to pursue our right to farm, and the right of our customers to have access to good clean food and seed,” says Gerritsen.

Urging the rights of farmers, Food Democracy Now!'s Murphy adds, “No company should be allowed to violate the property rights of America’s farmers or threaten their livelihoods through the use of frivolous patent infringement lawsuits designed to control farmers and the food supply, while protecting Monsanto’s flawed seed technology and corporate profits.”

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