The U.S. Supreme Court has decided biotech giant Monsanto has a right to sue farmers whose fields are contaminated with Monsanto seed from other farms.
The high court threw out a 2011 suit from the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association over aggressive legal tactics from Monsanto when it comes to their patented, genetically modified seed.
Monsanto claims it wouldn’t sue farmers if only traces of their genetically modified seeds were found in the crops of farmers who didn’t buy the seed. The company has filed more than 140 lawsuits against farmers for planting their seeds without permission and settled 700 more cases.
"Monsanto never has and has committed it never will sue if our patented seed or traits are found in a farmer's field as a result of inadvertent means," said Monsanto's chief litigation counsel Kyle McClain.
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"The lower courts agreed there was no controversy between the parties," McClain added, "and the Supreme Court's decision not to review the case brings closure on this matter."
Family-run farms are finding themselves unable to pay for the inadvertent crop contaminations.
"The Supreme Court failed to grasp the extreme predicament family farmers find themselves in," said Jim Gerritsen, president of the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association. "The Court of Appeals agreed our case had merit. However ... safeguards they ordered are insufficient to protect our farms and our families."
“If Monsanto can patent seeds for financial gain, they should be forced to pay for contaminating a farmer’s field, not be allowed to sue them,” Dave Murphy, founder and executive director of Food Democracy Now!, said in a statement “Once again, America’s farmers have been denied justice, while Monsanto’s reign of intimidation is allowed to continue in rural America.”
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“Monsanto has effectively gotten away with stealing the world’s seed heritage and abusing farmers for the flawed nature of their patented seed technology,” Murphy added. “This is an outrage of historic proportions and will not stand.”