July 29, 2014

Landmark Family Farmers Lawsuit Against Monsanto Grows

pin it button Landmark Family Farmers Lawsuit Against Monsanto Grows

15 Landmark Family Farmers Lawsuit Against Monsanto Grows

Landmark Family Farmers Lawsuit Grows

Prominent Allies Join Effort to Reinstate Challenge to Monsanto Patents

WASHINGTON, D.C. – July 17, 2012 – Eleven prominent law professors and fourteen renowned organic, Biodynamic®, food safety and consumer non-profit organizations have filed separate briefs with the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit arguing farmers have the right to protect themselves from being accused of patent infringement by agricultural giant Monsanto. The brief by the law professors and the brief by the non-profit organizations were filed in support of the seventy-five family farmers, seed businesses, and agricultural organizations representing over 300,000 individuals and 4,500 farms that last year brought a protective legal action seeking a ruling that Monsanto could never sue them for patent infringement if they became contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically modified seed. The case was dismissed by the district court in February and that dismissal is now pending review by the Court of Appeals. The plaintiffs recently filed their opening appeal brief with the appeals court.

29 Landmark Family Farmers Lawsuit Against Monsanto Grows

“Monsanto continues to claim that Plaintiffs’ concerns about being accused of patent infringement after being contaminated by Monsanto’s transgenic seed are unsubstantiated and unjustified,” said attorney Dan Ravicher of the not-for-profit legal services organization Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT), which represents the plaintiffs in the suit against Monsanto known as Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association et al. v Monsanto. “But now two impeccable groups have joined with plaintiffs in explaining to the Court of Appeals how real and legitimate their concerns really are, especially since Monsanto continues to refuse to simply promise never to sue contaminated farmers for patent infringement.”

The first group filing a brief in support of the OSGATA plaintiffs includes eleven prominent law professors from throughout the United States, including Professor Margo Bagley of the University of Virginia School of Law, Professor Michael Burstein of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Professor Rochelle C. Dreyfuss of the New York University School of Law, Professor Brett Frischmann of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Professor Erika George of University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, Professor Shubha Ghosh of the University of Wisconsin Law School, Professor Megan M. La Belle of the Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law, Professor Kali Murray of Marquette University Law School, Professor Ted Sichelman of the University of San Diego School of Law, Katherine J. Strandburg of the New York University School of Law, and Melissa Wasserman of the University of Illinois College of Law.

In their amicus brief, the law professors point out that, “broad standing to challenge the validity of patents ensures that the courts can effectively play their critical role in screening out invalid patents.” They add, “In actions challenging the validity of a patent, the alleged injury is not only the risk of an infringement suit, but a present restraint on economic activity due to the presence of a potentially invalid exclusive right.” The law professors went on to note, “But the validity of issued patents is uncertain until they are tested in court. This uncertainty creates real and present risks for persons wishing to engage in economic activity that might be the subject of an issued patent….When a person is deterred from undertaking valuable activity by the risk that the activity may encroach on another’s exclusive rights, that person has incurred an actual, concrete and particularized injury.”

“We are grateful for the brilliant and powerful amici briefs submitted to the appeals court by these two stellar groups, supporting our family farmers’ quest for justice,” said Maine organic seed farmer Jim Gerritsen, President of lead Plaintiff, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association. “An erroneous interpretation of law by a single judge is not going to cause our farmers to abandon our rights to farm the way we choose, to grow good food and good seed for our families and for our customers, free from Monsanto’s trespass and contamination. Denial of the property rights of American farmers is an attack on the property rights of every American. We will fight until family farmers receive justice.”

The second group filing a brief in support of the OSGATA plaintiffs, made up of fourteen non-profit agricultural and consumer organizations, includes the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, Food and Water Watch, International Organic Inspectors Association, Maine Alternative Agriculture Association, Michigan Land Trustees, Natural Environmental Ecological Management, Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society, Organic Consumers Association, Slow Food USA, Virginia Association for Biological Farming, Virginia Independent Consumers and Farmers Association, and Wisconsin Natural Food Associates.

In their amicus brief, the non-profit agricultural and consumer organizations point out, “The Plaintiff and Amici organizations, farmers, and seed businesses have suffered significant harm due to the threat of patent infringement suits by Monsanto.” They also noted, “Defendants have chosen to patent products that, by their very nature, will inevitably end up on the private property of people who have no desire to use them. Plaintiffs’ uncontroverted allegations show that, for the first time in history, they can be sued for something as natural as pollen drift, while simultaneously being forced to take expensive and burdensome steps in order to continue their normal businesses. The quandary of this type of liability is precisely the sort of situation that the Declaratory Judgment Act was intended to address.” The amicus brief further explained, “The Supreme court has stated that the plaintiff “need not ‘bet the farm’” yet in this case, that is precisely what the district court effectively required Plaintiffs to do in order to get their day in court – continue farming the disputed crops until they are unquestionably liable to Defendants for potentially crippling levels of damage before being able to seek a declaratory judgment as to their rights…The district court noted that ‘unlicensed – and unintented – use of transgenic seeds is inevitable…’ but then failed to address the fact that such unlicensed use is actionable and places Plaintiffs at risk of enforcement actions by Defendants.”

“It’s time to end Monsanto’s scorched-earth campaign of frivolous lawsuits against America’s family farmers,” said Dave Murphy, founder and executive director of Food Democracy Now!, a grassroots community of more than 300,000 farmers and citizens dedicated to reforming food and agriculture. “Monsanto’s claims against farmers for patent infringement are exceedingly weak, violating Americans’ most basic sense of fairness and decency. Our Founding Fathers would be outraged”, stated Murphy.

 

About OSGATA: The Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association is a not-for-profit agricultural organization made up of organic farmers, seed growers, seed businesses and supporters. OSGATA is committed to developing and protecting organic seed and it’s growers in order to ensure the organic community has access to excellent quality organic seed free of contaminants and adapted to the diverse needs of local organic agriculture. www.osgata.org

 

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Brazil Farmers say GMO Corn no Longer Resistant to Pests

Brazil Farmers say GMO Corn no Longer Resistant to Pests

More bad news for GMO seed suppliers in Brazil, where strong opposition to GMOs continues. We reported earlier this year how the U.S. had a huge shipment of corn rejected at the border of China due to unapproved GMO corn in the shipment. China ordered corn from Brazil instead, giving them a major economic incentive to pursue non-GMO corn, as the U.S. is quickly losing the corn export market due to its value of GMO technology that other countries don’t share.
Now it is being reported by farmers in Brazil that the GMO corn is no longer protecting Brazilian farmers from voracious tropical bugs. They are seeking compensation for damages due to increased costs of pesticides to battle the problem.

Factory Farmed Chicken May Be Cheap, But the Ultimate Price You Pay Is High

Factory Farmed Chicken May Be Cheap, But the Ultimate Price You Pay Is High

Demand for food at cheaper prices has dramatically altered the entire food chain. Today, food production revolves around efficiency—the ability to produce more for less.

Today, nearly 65 billion animals worldwide, including cows, chickens, and pigs, are crammed into confined animal feeding operations known as CAFOs. These animals are imprisoned and tortured in crowded, unhealthy, unsanitary, and cruel conditions.

Seeing how chicken is supposed to be a healthy source of high-quality nutrition, the fact that it has become so affordable might seem to be a great benefit. But there’s a major flaw in this equation. As it turns out, it’s virtually impossible to mass-produce clean, safe, optimally nutritious foods at rock bottom prices.

To prevent the inevitable spread of disease from stress, overcrowding, and an unnatural diet, the animals are routinely fed antibiotics. Antibiotics used in livestock pose a direct threat to human health, and contaminate the environment.

Glyphosate Herbicide Causes Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria, Kidney Disease, and Infertility

Glyphosate Herbicide Causes Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria, Kidney Disease, and Infertility

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden issued an alarming warning this week: “Antibiotic resistance that turns ordinary disease-causing bacteria into illnesses that can’t be controlled could bring about the next pandemic.” Frieden brought attention to the growing trend of antibiotic-resistant bacteria which can cause patients to “enter the hospital with one disease and leave with another.”

It is generally acknowledged today that the age of antibiotics is over, as bacteria have adapted to resist man-made pharmaceutical products. The focus now is on the microbiome, both the human microbiome as well as other microbiome systems within our environment, as we enter into a new age of dangerous organisms totally out of control.

How did we get to this point where modern medicines can no longer stop infections? Many analyses correctly point to the fact that we have overused man-made antibiotic drugs, both in medicine and in livestock raised in CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations).

However, as we report to you today, there is probably a far greater reason the human microbiome has been damaged and in many people destroyed, leading to a multitude of allergies and diseases that plague this modern generation. That reason is linked to a common herbicide currently present in 80% of the U.S. food chain: glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup and other herbicides.

Glyphosate may well be the most toxic chemical ever approved for commercial use, as it is now linked to kidney disease, antibiotic resistant bacteria, inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, depression, ADHD, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, multiple sclerosis, cancer, cachexia, infertility, and developmental malformations. It destroys the microbiome of humans and plants, which is the root cause of many modern diseases.

Michigan Officials Destroy $5,000.00 of Good Organic Food from Family Farm

Michigan Officials Destroy $5,000.00 of Good Organic Food from Family Farm

The government-sponsored dump of nearly $5,000 of milk, eggs, butter, and cream from Michigan’s My Family Co-Op yesterday (July 21, 2014) carried a very clear and powerful political message to all Americans: We control your food and we don’t like you buying your food outside the corporate food system. Every now and then, we are going to remind you of what bad children you are being by taking your food and throwing it in the garbage. In fact, we are going to do more than remind you, we are going to completely humiliate you by preventing you from even feeding it to farm animals and instead forcing it to be disposed of in a landfill or dumpster.

If you think I am exaggerating the intent of what is going on here, ask yourself this question: When was the last time you saw government agents seize and condemn food from a place like Foster Farms or Taco Bell or Del Monte or Kellogg’s or Trade Joe’s when their food has been found to contain pathogens, or made people sick? There’s been not even a suggestion that food at My Family Co-Op contained pathogens or made anyone sick.

Michigan Officials Seize Private Food from Family Co-op

Michigan Officials Seize Private Food from Family Co-op

David Gumpert is reporting that agents from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development pulled over the My Family Co-op’s refrigerated truck this week, and placed a seizure order on their private food which was being delivered to food club members. My Family Co-op operates a “herd-share” program that allows private club members to contract with them and share in the ownership of their farm operations to produce and deliver farm-fresh food.

These types of private food clubs are popping up all over the country, bypassing the commercial retail distribution of commodity food found in grocery stores. Big Ag, Big Dairy, and others are obviously opposed to such systems that allow farmers to sell directly to consumers, and use government regulations to go after peaceful farm operations trying to produce healthy food for those who want to bypass the commodity processed food market.

David Gumpert, however, brings up a good point in explaining that most ag inspectors that try to seize private food really have no police powers, and can be resisted. Some food clubs have successfully resisted some seizures, forcing government officials to get court sanctioned orders that can be enforced by law enforcement officials. They key is to know your rights and not be intimidated, and David Gumpert posted on his blog:

SIX WAYS TO PUT A STOP TO GOVERNMENT SEIZURES OF PRIVATELY-OWNED FOOD

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