This is a Call to Action for a Non-Hierarchical Occupation of Monsanto Everywhere
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Today farmers, seed breeders, & concerned citizens from across America came to Washington, DC to support Organic farmers in the appeal of Organic Seed Growers and Trade Asscociation (OSGATA) vs Monsanto et al, a court case filed to protect farmers from genetic trespass by Monsanto’s GMO seed, which can contaminate organic and non-GMO farmers’ crops and opens them up to abusive lawsuits.
In the past two decades, Monsanto’s seed monopoly has grown so powerful that they control the genetics of nearly 90% of five major commodity crops including corn, soybeans, cotton, canola and sugar beets. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit agreed to hear oral arguments in the appeal of this landmark case to decide whether or not this case will move forward. Below are some of the photos taken at today’s Citizens’ Assembly.
On January 10, family farmers will travel to Washington DC to participate in the appeal of Organic Seed Growers and Trade Asscociation (OSGATA) vs Monsanto et al, a court case filed to protect farmers from genetic trespass by Monsanto’s GMO seed, which can contaminate organic and non-GMO farmers’ crops and opens them up to abusive lawsuits. In the past two decades, Monsanto’s seed monopoly has grown so powerful that they control the genetics of nearly 90% of five major commodity crops including corn, soybeans, cotton, canola and sugar beets.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has agreed to hear oral arguments in the appeal of this landmark case to decide whether or not this case will move forward. If you’d like to show your support for family farmers and their right to grow food without the threat of fear and intimidation, please RSVP to attend the Citizen’s Assembly.
I pledge to attend and affirm the following principles of Citizen’s Assembly.
If you plan to attend A Citizen’s Assembly of Support for Family Farmers vs. Monsanto, please read and affirm the following principles of assembly.
RSVP – A Citizen’s Assembly of Support for Family Farmers vs. Monsanto – Jan. 10, 2013
We wish to assemble free and peaceful citizens in Lafayette Square in Washington DC in an effort to present the important message to family farmers that millions of Americans stand behind them as they seek their day in court. In the past two decades, Monsanto’s seed monopoly has grown so powerful that they control the genetics of nearly 90% of five major commodity crops including corn, soybeans, cotton, canola and sugar beets. This has resulted in onerous costs to farmers through high technology patent fees for seeds as well as burdensome litigation costs in defending themselves against lawsuits asserted by Monsanto.
In many cases organic and conventional farmers are forced to stop growing certain crops in order to avoid genetic contamination and potential lawsuits. Between 1997 and April 2010, Monsanto filed 144 lawsuits against American farmers in at least 27 different states, for alleged infringement of its transgenic seed patents and/or breach of its license to those patents, while settling another 700 out of court for undisclosed amounts. As a result of these aggressive lawsuits, Monsanto has created an atmosphere of fear in rural America and driven dozens of farmers into bankruptcy.
The lawsuit OSGATA (Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association) et al vs. Monsanto was filed on behalf of 300,000 organic and non-GMO farmers and citizens to seek judicial relief in “protect[ing] themselves from ever being accused of infringing patents on transgenic (GMO) seed”. The judge has requested and agreed to hear oral argument in orders to make a decision of whether or not to allow the farmers’ case to move forward in the courts after Monsanto filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. We are encouraging supporters of farmers’ rights to grow food without fear and intimidation to assemble outside the courtroom in a peaceful manner to support the farmers in their claims, recognizing that these injustices affect us all and that this case is deserving of the court’s time and attention.
Due to limited space, only a small number of individuals will be able to enter the courtroom and listen to the proceedings. We respectfully ask that farmers and plaintiffs in the case be given priority to hear this case in person as each plaintiff has travelled many miles and put a great deal on the line to be a part of this case.
In the spirit of peaceful assembly and respect for the courts, we request that you adhere to the following principles:
Principles for Citizen’s Assembly
1. Assemble in Lafayette Square in a show of support for family farmers and their right to grow food without the threat of intimidation, harassment or loss of income.
2. Assemble peacefully to present a positive message that America’s citizens stand behind family farmers and support their rights of legal protection under the Constitution.
3. Bring signs that portray messages of:
b. The positive impacts of sustainable and organic agriculture
c. Solutions to our current crisis in food, agriculture and society
d. Support for farmers who seek justice in the courts
4. Be respectful of the court, our government institutions and maintain a respectful distance from the court entry and federal buildings, making sure not to block access for foot traffic or vehicles.
As advocates for farmers and supporters of a citizen-based democracy we greatly appreciate your support for family farmers and your agreement to act in accordance with these principles in order to guarantee farmers’ rights to grow food without fear and intimidation.
Location to Hear Plaintiffs and Attorney Comment After Hearing
Once oral arguments are heard in the court, farmers, plaintiffs and lead attorney Dan Ravicher of the Public Patent Foundation will be available for comments to supporters and the media at Lafayette Square afterwards.
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.
“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