Monsanto, the biotech giant at the forefront of the ever-expanding genetic modification of foods largely through their glyphosate pesticide resistant Roundup Ready seeds, is now facing a lawsuit filed by a group of 60 farmers and agriculture businesses.
This preemptive suit led by a team at the not-for-profit law center, The Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT), is an attempt to protect farmers, who in the past have been sued by Monsanto for patent infringement when genetically modified crop drift seeds contaminated their non-GM farms.
Dan Ravicher, Executive Director of the PUBPAT and Lecturer of Law at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York told the GMO Journal, “It seems quite perverse that an organic farmer contaminated by transgenic seed could be accused of patent infringement, but Monsanto has made such accusations before and is notorious for having sued hundreds of farmers for patent infringement, so we had to act to protect the interests of our clients.”
With the recent addition of fully deregulated GM alfalfa and sugar beets to Monsanto’s Roundup Ready lineup, which includes their domineering corn and soy patents, farmers are at an even greater risk of any number of patented GM seeds making their way onto their land and causing an inevitable backlash from Monsanto.
Monsanto has denied the validity of the lawsuit, and in a press release statement called the allegations “false, misleading and deceptive.”
Controversy over Monsanto’s GM seeds is not just centered on farmers’ rights. A recent report looked at 19 studies that suggest serious health risks exist for anyone eating a diet high in GM foods. The California Department of Food and Agriculture suggests that at least 70 percent of processed foods in U.S. supermarkets now contain genetically modified ingredients.
Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger