Organic Farmers' Preemptive Lawsuit Against Monsanto Patents Tossed Out For Being A Bit Too Preemptive

from the can't-declare-just-yet dept

Monsanto has quite a track record of going after farmers for making use of its “patented” seeds, even in a case that involve seeds that blew onto a farm from a neighboring farm. So, it wasn’t entirely surprising to see a group of organic farmers preemptively sue Monsanto last year, asking for a declaratory judgment that they did not infringe. However, the judge in the case has now dismissed the case, noting that for a declaratory judgment, there has to be a real conflict, and Monsanto keeps insisting that it won’t sue these farmers. From a legal standpoint, this argument makes sense (and the declaratory judgment standard can be pretty high in some cases — especially if no direct threat has been issued). But, it still seems unfortunate. Given Monsanto’s past actions in other cases, even if it says it won’t sue now, plenty of farmers are reasonably scared about what will happen down the road. But, for now, they just have to wait and hope that Monsanto seeds don’t show up on their farms…

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Comments on “Organic Farmers' Preemptive Lawsuit Against Monsanto Patents Tossed Out For Being A Bit Too Preemptive”

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btr1701 (profile) says:


Never could figure out why the courts let companies get away with this sort of thing. If they purposely introduce something into the environment, that by its very nature is designed to germinate and spread as far and wide as possible, it’s ridiculous to allow them to then turn around and sue everyone within spore-range of their facility because of their own actions.

And since the claims are being allowed to go forward, I’m not sure why the farmers don’t countersue Monsanto for trespass and/or negligently contaminating their farms with their unwanted genetically modified freak-seeds.

saulgoode (profile) says:

Why isn't Monsanto not Liable for Contaminating Crops

I don’t understand why the FBI isn’t sending in anti-terrorist squads to arrest Monsanto’s CEO. GMOs are illegal in Hungary and the U.S. should not be permitting this rogue corporation to flaunt Hungarian law with such disregard.

How can the FBI expect other countries to enforce U.S. laws if they aren’t willing to reciprocate?

tony says:

Organic industry depends on gm food to be bale to charge more for their food. They are not threatened – the opposite is true. They only exist by slandering companies like Monsanto. Monsanto has done more to reduce chemical insecticides than the whole organic industry. Bt rips have reduced massive levels of insecticide just one example root worm killing nerve poisoning chems have been reduced on 25 million acres every year since 2003 almost 10 years by root worm protected Gm corn. You really need to stop reading the crap on the internet

Anonymous Coward says:

Easy For Monsanto

Winning against any farmer is easy for Monsanto. If natural transfer of pollen by the wind is not getting the job done, then send an agent to toss in a few handfuls of Monsanto seed into the fields of the proposed victim. Wait until harvest. Agent quietly harvests a bit of the crop. Test the crop. Discover Monsanto patented genes. Sue. Expert witnesses testify that Monsanto genes found. Farmer loses. Chalk up another victory for Monsanto.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:


One problem is these Monsanto “miracles” are already losing effectiveness. We’ve got pests and weeds that have mutated to dodge what Monsanto produces. So Monsanto not only wants to control crops around the world, it must keep trying to produce new products to stay in the game.

People want the option not to have these plants. And poor farmers particularly don’t want to be dependent on a large corporation providing them with expensive products. So they are fighting a system where unwanted crops contaminate their own crops and then they are sued for having them.

Also, another big issue has been labeling. You want to grow GMOs? Fine, but don’t balk if countries ask you to label the foods that have them. In fact, if GMOs are so great, presumably you’d be proud to sell labeled GMO foodstuffs.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:


That’s difficult, considering the amount of fearmongering and misinformation spread by the opponents of GMO food.

So, even though GMOs are saving mankind, they need to be kept secret because of PR?

I actually didn’t pay too much attention to them until recently. I’ve always tried to avoid pesticides and herbicides, so in general I prefer organic foods. While GMOs might reduce the needs of herbicides and pesticides on crops, if they result in harder-to-kill weeds and bugs, we’re back to where we were.

What got me worried about GMOs is that they can spread to non-GMO crops and then the farmers get sued for having them. That sounds like a power play to me.

People do have the right to avoid GMOs and countries do have the right to prevent them from being grown within their borders. If labeling helps consumers identify what they want to buy, it sounds like a good thing to me.

TheBigH (profile) says:


Oh, I agree. Some of the GMO producers (eg. Monsanto) aren’t doing themselves any favours with their unscrupulous behaviour. But this is part of the problem. If you’re justified in attacking a company over its unethical business practices you feel more able to attack it over other things as well- such as the science, where your justification may not be as strong.

Look at the case of “big pharma” for example. People have a go at them for their greed and shameless profiteering, and rightly so. But then some turn around and say that if “big pharma” are willing to do this then obviously all their drugs are going to just make people sick and keep them sick rather than healing them because all they care about is money and not about people. And so you get dangerous idiots like the antivax movement, faith healers, and homeopaths cashing in on people’s ill-informed mistrust of the evil scary corporations. I don’t really see the fear of GMO food as being any different.

I can dislike a company’s practices without being paranoid of the science.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:


I saw this and I am concerned about attacks on science.

Attacks paid for by big business are ‘driving science into a dark era’ | Science | The Observer

What complicates things in terms of health is that what might be conventional wisdom at one point may be disproved later on. For example, it was considered “modern” for women to bottle feed. Now we know that breastfeeding is better, and yet for years we had to battle formula companies not to pressure women, particularly poor women, to favor formula over breast milk.

Back in the 1950s, tonsillitis was sometimes treated with radiation. Now we know that it can result decades later in thyroid cancer.

Once I became pregnant, I became much more aware of what I was exposed to and what my kids were exposed to. Are concerns about GMOs too extreme? I don’t know. But I want the option not to have GMO foods. And I worry that we’ll have a rebound effect giving us superbugs and superweeds and the system will end up being more out of whack than it was before.

Anonymous Coward says:


The thing I fear from GMO’s, is the fact that they are just one more way for massive, bureaucratic, monstrosities called corporations to seek rent money from things even the poor depend on, namely food.

Those that seek seed royalties, and the legal monopoly over ALL of food in the world, aren’t your friends. Science, or no science.

Anonymous Coward says:

Easy For Monsanto

Who said they had to trespass?

1. Stand ‘upwind’ with bag of GMO seed.
2. Toss seed in air
3. Let wind do what wind does
4. Accuse farmer of ‘stealing GMO seed’ point out that a sample from spot X would be a good test site.
5. Let farmer provide ‘sample’ from suggested site.
6. Sue farmer and Profit….

If you really can’t figure out how to screw the consumer, then congratulations, you aren’t an evil corporate shill (this would have been a ‘no brainer’ for them – not referring to their bosses, just the concept of how to legally ‘screw’ the customer….)

btr1701 (profile) says:

Easy For Monsanto

> Accuse farmer of ‘stealing GMO seed’ point out that a sample
> from spot X would be a good test site.

Even if the test results are positive, how does that prove theft on the part of the farmer? All it proves is that the seed somehow got on the farmer’s land and given that seeds are intentionally designed to germinate on their own, the mere presence of patented seed on the land proves nothing regarding theft. To prove theft, you’d have to also prove intent to steal on the part of the farmer.

missmeghan says:

consider all angles

there is currently legislation being considered to mandate the labeling of gm ingredients in our food. if consumers are given the choice, monsanto will face incredible losses. we should all be paying attention to these cases. these sociopathic giants will be brought to justice, and the meek shall… you know the rest.

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