Carol Koury, owner of Asheville’s Sow True Seed, joined some 82 other farmers, advocacy groups, and seed companies as part of a class action lawsuit brought in federal court today, Jan. 31, in New York. The Organic Seed Grower and Trade Association and others are taking on agricultural giant Monsanto, in a lawsuit filed by the New York-based Public Patent Foundation. Koury and Sow True Seed staffer Cathryn Zommer traveled to New York City to hear the opening oral arguments in what participants say is a groundbreaking food safety case against the bio-tech behemoth, Monsanto.
An assembly of citizens gathered in support of family farmers in the morning before the hearing, where Monsanto attorneys offered an opening motion to dismiss the case as frivolous.
What’s at stake is anything but frivolous, say the growers participating in the lawsuit: the ability to provide high quality, open-pollinated and heirloom seeds. That task is becoming considerably more difficult, the growers say, with the rise of genetic engineering (GE) in agriculture, spear-headed by Monsanto.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of some 300,000 organic and non-GMO farmers seeking judicial relief, “protecting themselves from ever being accused of infringing patents on transgenic (GMO) seed,” Zommer tells Xpress.
“Unlabeled and untested, pollen drifting from GE crops is a threat to the integrity of organic and non-GM crops,” says Zommer. “This is in direct conflict with our right to produce and consume pure, natural food.”
Watch a CBS News report about the threat that genetically modified seed poses to organic farmers:
Watch a CBS News report about Monsanto’s history of falsely accusing farmers who did not want anything to do with genetically modified seed of patent infringement:
Monsanto Co. spent $2 million in the third quarter of 2012 to lobby the federal government on issues including regulations for genetically engineered crops and patent reforms, according to a recent disclosure report.
That’s slightly more than the $1.9 million Monsanto spent a year earlier and up almost 18 percent from the $1.7 million it spent during previous quarter.
The world’s largest seed company lobbied Congress and the U.S. Department of Agriculture over regulations that would affect the distribution of genetically engineered crops like the company’s Roundup Ready sugar beets and alfalfa, according to the disclosure the company filed Oct. 18 with the House clerk’s office.
Source: Associated Press, December 15, 2011