Monsanto, an agriculture giant whose patented genes are in 95% of all soybeans and 80% of all corn (maize) grown in the US, has been suing farmers suspected of violating patents – even if done inadvertently. Incidences of farmers being sued because pollen from nearby Monsanto-brand genetically modified crops blew over the fence, on to organic fields, has earned Monsanto over $15 million from patent violation cases.
On March 29th, 2011, Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) filed suit on behalf of 60 family farmers, seed businesses and organic agricultural organizations against Monsanto Company to challenge the chemical giant’s patents on genetically modified seed. The organic plaintiffs were forced to sue pre-emptively to protect themselves from being accused of patent infringement should they ever become contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically modified seed, something Monsanto has done to others in the past. The case, Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association, et al. v. Monsanto, was filed in federal district court in Manhattan.
Plaintiffs in the suit represent a broad range 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. The plaintiff organizations have over 270,000 members, including thousands of certified organic family farmers.