The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., has announced that on January 10, 2013 it will hear the appeal in a landmark legal case of critical importance to all who eat organic food: Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) et al v. Monsanto.
This case is also, notably, of direct relevance to Evrett Lunquist, who was the subject of my November 14 report – America’s Organic Inspectors Chilled by Libel Case. In addition to that precedent-seting libel case, Lunquist and wife Ruth Chantry of Common Good Farm in Raymond, Nebraska are also among the coalition of organic farms and organizations which have banded together to press the class-action lawsuit against Monsanto.
The Organic Seed Grower’s lawsuit challenges the validity of Monsanto’s transgenic seed patents, and seeks preemptive court protection for farmers when Monsanto’s genetically engineered seed trespasses onto their farms and contaminates their natural, organic crops.
The plaintiff community of organic farmers asserts that this case is not just an academic dispute of patent law. Rather it is a critical issue affecting family farmers across the USA, with implications of global significance.
With the defeat of the GMO labeling proposition in California earlier this month, the OSGATA suit against Monsanto takes center stage in the national debate about genetically engineered food.
While the GMO invasion matter is being contested in court, this November the final report of the USDA’s Advisory Committee on Biotechnology & 21st Century Agriculture threw another hatchet at the roots of organic farming and food. The committee formally recommended that organic farmers be obliged to pay money to self-insure themselves against unwanted GMO contamination. The National Organic Coalition immediately issued a statement of opposition to this measure.
If the USDA implements such a requirement, it would be tantamount to a mob “protection plan” — forcing farmers to pay protection money to insure that they are not ruined financially by the full-scale onslaught of the GMO Industrial Complex, Inc.
No amount of insurance, however, will protect the land, the farmers themselves, or the food they produce, from GMO contamination.
Rather than protecting clean land and farms, this recommended policy would place full cost and full responsibility for contamination not on the perpetrators, but instead on the farmers whose land and crops have been transgressed. It would, in effect, turn the common-sense understanding of justice on its head. In no way would such a policy serve the common good.