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Demeter Association vs. Monsanto Written by The Demeter Board and Staff

Dear Demeter and Stellar Members,

The Demeter Association has joined a group of approximately 50 membership organizations, seed distributors and farmers/farms in a suit challenging the chemical giant Monsanto Company’s patents on genetically engineered seed , commonly referred to as GMO or genetically modified seed.  We have thoughtfully entered into this action to preemptively protect our members and non-GMO farmers in general from being accused of patent infringement should they ever become contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically modified seed.  We are sure you are aware that in the past, Monsanto has indeed taken this aggressive course of action.

The case was filed on Tuesday March 29, 2011, in federal district court in Manhattan.  In addition to Demeter, the plaintiffs in the suit represent a broad array of family farmers, small businesses and organizations from within the organic agriculture community who are increasingly threatened by genetically modified seed contamination despite using their best efforts to avoid it.  Some Demeter members are amongst the plaintiff group.

“This case asks whether Monsanto has the right to sue organic farmers for patent infringement if Monsanto’s genetically modified seed should land on their property,” said Dan Ravicher, PUBPAT’s Executive Director, the plaintiffs’ lead attorney in the case. “It seems quite perverse that an organic farmer contaminated by GM seed could be accused of patent infringement, but Monsanto has made such accusations before and is notorious for having sued hundreds of farmers for patent infringement, so we had to act to protect the interests of our clients.”

As our members are well aware, once released into the environment, genetically modified seed contaminates and destroys organic seed for the same crop.  Organic corn, soybeans, cotton, sugar beets, canola and alfalfa now face such a fate, as Monsanto has released genetically modified seed for each of those crops, too.  Monsanto is developing genetically modified seed for many other crops, thus putting the future of all food, and indeed all agriculture, at stake.

In the case, PUBPAT is asking the court to declare that if organic farmers are ever contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically modified seed, they need not fear also being accused of patent infringement.  One reason for this result is that Monsanto’s patents on genetically modified seed are invalid because they don’t meet the “usefulness” requirement of patent law.  Evidence cited by PUBPAT in its opening filing today proves that genetically modified seed has negative economic and health effects, while the promised benefits of genetically modified seed – increased production and decreased herbicide use – are false.

“Some say genetically modified seed can coexist with organic seed, but history tells us that’s not possible, and it’s actually in Monsanto’s financial interest to eliminate organic seed so that they can have a total monopoly over our food supply,” said Ravicher.  “Monsanto is the same chemical company that previously brought us Agent Orange, DDT, PCB’s and other toxins, which they said were safe, but we know are not. Now Monsanto says genetically modified seed is safe, but evidence clearly shows it is not.”

We will keep you involved in what will surely be a long drawn out court case.  Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns.  Talking points regarding the suit follow, as does information about the legal firm taking this action.  Should you be queried about the suit, consider this language that you are welcome to use.


The Demeter Board and Staff