Family farm

A group of farmers have appealed a judge’s ruling that dismissed the group’s case filed against Monsanto in March 2011. The case, brought about by the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, challenged the multinational seed and chemical company’s patents on genetically engineered seed technology and the ongoing threats to farmers who frequently face lawsuits from Monsanto for patent infringement.

The February 24th ruling against the plaintiffs received international attention, and the appeal with the Federal Circuit Court in Manhattan will bring forth testimony from dozens of farmers seeking to reinstate the case. The plaintiffs include individual, small-scale and family farms, seed companies and agricultural organizations.

In a statement issued by the Wisconsin-based Cornucopia Institute, a nonprofit farm policy research group, the organization said that “between 1997 and 2010, Monsanto acknowledges filing 144 lawsuits against America’s family farmers, while settling another 700 cases out of court for undisclosed amounts and imposing gag orders on farmers.”

Monsanto frequently sues farmers for saving seeds, a common farming practice that goes against the company’s policy. Farmers have also faced lawsuits for patent infringement, when they themselves are essentially victims of crop drift—an accidental occurrence where GMO seeds are either transplanted by winds, animals or insects onto farmlands that have not paid Monsanto for the rights to use its seeds.

According to the Cornucopia Institute, “Monsanto’s harassment of family farmers is well known in farm country, the biotech seed and chemical giant has one of the most aggressive patent assertion agendas in U.S. history.”

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Image: khawkins04