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St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Court case draws Monsanto protesters to White House

Posted: January 10th, 2013 | Filed under: Press | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

OSGATA v Monsanto 18 St. Louis Post Dispatch: Court case draws Monsanto protesters to White House White House Washington Vermont U.S. District Judge U.S. Court of St. Louis Post Dispatch Sow True Seeds Rally Protest patent infringement OSGATA et al v. Monsanto Organic Food National Mall Naomi Buchwald Monsanto lawsuit GMO Labeling Genetic Contamination Demonstration DC David Zuckerman Daniel Ravicher contamination Carol Koury Bill Lambrecht Ashville

Court case draws Monsanto protesters to White House

By Bill Lambrecht blambrecht@post-dispatch.com 202-298-6880
January 10, 2013 12:30 pm

WASHINGTON • An appeal by organic farmers to a court ruling last year turned into a wide-ranging protest this morning with speakers skewering Monsanto Co. for its policies and demanding labeling of genetically modified food.

About 200 people, many from organic seed companies, rallied in a park directly across from the White House on a crisp, cloudless day amid construction for festivities surrounding the second inauguration of President Barack Obama on Jan. 21.

Protesters announced that another rally will take place on Jan. 21 with a march on the National Mall demanding that Obama follow through with what they say was his promise in 2007 to seek labeling of food with genetically modified ingredients.

The protest suggested an uptick in efforts to demand labeling, which was defeated in a California ballot initiative in November. Creve Coeur-based Monsanto spent at least $8 million in an industry-wide effort to sink the California proposition.

Vermont state Sen. David Zuckerman said at the rally that he is leading an effort in his state seeking legislation requiring labeling of genetically modified food.

Organic farmers, who are pressing a lawsuit against Monsanto, often complain that their products are threatened by wind-blown pollen from genetically altered crops.

“We want and demand the right of clean seed not contaminated by a massive biotech company that’s in it for the profit,” Carol Koury, who operates Sow True Seeds in Asheville, N.C., said at the rally.

The gathering was held in conjunction with an appeal heard today before a three-judge U.S. Court of Appeals panel in Washington. The suit questions the legality of Monsanto’s seed patents and seeks protection from patent-infringement suits against farmers in the event their fields are found to contain genetically modified seed.

The lawsuit was filed by the Public Patent Foundation on behalf of the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association.

Last February, U.S. District Judge Naomi Buchwald in the Southern District of New York dismissed the suit, asserting that “there is no evidence to suggest that plaintiffs are infringing defendants’ patents, nor have plaintiffs suggested when, if ever, such infringement will occur.”

Buchwald said in her ruling that it was “hardly significant” that Monsanto had filed 144 patent-infringement cases over a 13-year period given the number of farms in the United States.

After the dismissal, a Monsanto lawyer called the ruling a victory for all farmers.

This morning, Public Patent Foundation’s Daniel Ravicher, a lawyer who presented the appeal, asked: “If our clients don’t have standing today to seek protection, when will they have standing? Do they have to wait to be contaminated?”


Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Press Release for OSGATA et al. v. Monsanto

Posted: November 23rd, 2012 | Filed under: Press Releases | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

PRESS RELEASE
11/23/2012
For Immediate Release
Contact: Jim Gerritsen (207) 429-9765
Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association


OSGATA et al. v. Monsanto Oral Argument Slated for January 10, 2013

Contributions Urgently Needed for ‘Farmer Travel Fund’ to Enable Family Farmers to Attend Court Session

WASHINGTON, ME – November 23, 2012 – On November 21, 2012, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., announced that it would hear the Appeal of Dismissal in Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association et al v. Monsanto at 10am on Thursday, January 10, 2013. The landmark organic community lawsuit was originally filed in Federal District Court, Southern District of New York, in March 2011.

OSGATA et al v. Monsanto challenges the validity of Monsanto’s transgenic seed patents and seeks preemptive court protection for farmers when Monsanto seed trespasses onto their farms and contaminates their crops. Should contamination occur, innocent farmers would be placed in legal jeopardy and could be held liable by Monsanto for patent infringement because of the farmers’ “possession” of Monsanto technology without having paid royalty on that “possession.”

Plaintiffs are being represented in the case by lawyers from the Public Patent Foundation, who are providing their legal services to the farmers pro bono. Plaintiff lawyer Dan Ravicher asked Monsanto for a binding legal covenant guaranteeing family farmers that they would not be pursued for patent infringement should they become contaminated by Monsanto seed. Monsanto refused to provide this assurance to the farmers.

The farmers’ Appeal brief, filed last summer, cites legal and factual errors by Federal District Court Judge Naomi Buchwald which in toto caused her to erroneously conclude that the farmers lacked standing under the Declaratory Judgment Act to seek court protection. In addition, two powerful Amicii briefs were filed in support of the farmers’ position – one by a group of eleven law professors and another by a group of fourteen non-profit agricultural and consumer organizations. These briefs will be studied by the three judge Appellate panel during their deliberations.

“American family farmers have gone to court seeking justice and protection from Monsanto. We are not seeking one penny from Monsanto,” said Maine organic seed farmer Jim Gerritsen, President of lead Plaintiff Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association. “We satisfy the requirements of the Declaratory Judgment Act. We want our day in court so that our families can achieve protection from this perverse injustice. We are prepared to prove at trial that the U.S. Patent Office improperly granted Monsanto patents on their genetically engineered seed and that those patents are invalid.”

OSGATA has re-established its Farmer Travel Fund in order to raise funds to enable family farmers to travel to the Oral Argument in January. The Farmer Travel Fund is in immediate need of contributions to support this convergence of farmers from across the United States in solidarity for the OSGATA et al. v. Monsanto lawsuit effort. Plaintiffs believe it is critical that the courtroom for the Oral Argument of this major lawsuit be filled with concerned Plaintiff-farmers in order to visibly demonstrate that the case is not just an academic dispute of patent law. Rather it is a monumental issue affecting the rights of American family farmers, with implications of global significance.

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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Source: OSGATA