Monsanto, the biotechnology company, has been handed a huge victory by the US Supreme Court. The court has refused to give organic farmers relief by allowing them to get their side of the story told in court. The farmers, who have been fighting the biotechnology company Monsanto, are now denied the right to dispute the company’s patent system or seek restitution for their crops’ exposure to GMO seed infestation.
The resolution also ends the plans of family farmers who had looked for the chance to demonstrate in court that the seed giants’ modified seed patents are not valid.
Genetically modified crops are agricultural plants which, through genetic engineering, have had their DNA modified. Nominally, the goal is to introduce a new trait into the plant which doesn’t occur in nature. Food crops may be modified to increase resistance to pests or environmental conditions. Resistance to disease and chemical treatments are also considerations.
Monsanto, which was handed victory by America’s Supreme Court, has pushed the adoption of GM technology over the years. From 1996 to 2011, land planted with GM crops increase from 4 million acres to over 395 million acres
There is strong disagreement in the scientific communities about GM crops. While some say that GM crops are not a greater risk to human consumption, other groups object to GM crops on several grounds. Environmental concerns, safety concerns and economic concerns are the biggest issues which people struggle with daily.
Growers had sought shielding under the Declaratory Judgment Act. The DJA says that if farmers become the innocent bystanders of contamination by Monsanto’s gene splice technology, they couldn’t be sued for patent infringement.
Presented to the court in 2011, the groundbreaking lawsuit was first heard in Manhattan’s Federal District Court. The class action suit represents 83 family farmers in America, independent seed companies and other agricultural organizations. Hundreds of thousands of people comprise the class action suit.
The decision has left Canadian farmers unprotected also because the protection that was offered doesn’t reach into Canada. If a Canadian farmer sells crops into the United States, the farmer will be held responsible for claims of patent infringement.
American farmers were given a limited victory though. Three of the justices concurred with the farmers’ claim that contamination by Monsanto was destined to occur. The justices ordered Monsanto not to sue American farmers whose fields were contaminated inadvertently. The court set the limit at 1 percent.
None of the claimants are Monsanto customers and none have executed licensing agreements with the company. The plaintiffs are not after Monsanto’s seed nor the gene-splicing technology.
In 2013, Monsanto’s wheat was discovered in an Oregon farmer’s field. GMO alfalfa was also discovered next door in Washington. The dual findings sent foreign markets where GMOs are forbidden, sinking financially. In each instance, the farmers’ livelihoods were threatened as commodity brokers in overseas markets refused to purchase the crops.
The case is a legal landmark which seeks to protect small family-run farms from Monsanto’s aggressive lawsuits and genetic contamination that happen when the company’s patented GMO pollen is blown across fields and contaminates other farms against the farmers’ wishes.
To monitor and enforce their patents, Monsanto routinely sends out inspectors through America to intrude on farmer’s fields and steal their plants for testing back in the lab.
Clearly Monsanto wants to protect the victory handed them by Supreme Court.
By Jerry Nelson