The court system in this country appears to consistently support Monsanto, as shown once again in today's US Court of Appeals decision in Organic Seed Growers and Trade v. Monsanto.
Monsanto owns multiple patents relative to their Round Up Ready glyphosate seeds, which organic farmers go through great lengths and expense to avoid use of and contamination from. Notwithstanding, as a result of the prevalence of genetically modified seed use in this country, wind blown contamination of our organic farms is inevitable. As is often the case, when an organic farm is contaminated with Monsanto's Round Up Ready genetically modified seeds, Monsanto actually sues the organic farmer for patent infringement and consistently wins!
In the above referenced case, organic farmers were essentially seeking a declaratory judgment from the court to rule that if an organic farm is the victim of wind blown genetically modified seed contamination, that such an occurence is not an infringement of Monsanto's patents. This became necessary as the Monsanto threat of law suits had become financially disabling to many of our organic farmers. Although the organic seed growers wanted Monsanto to provide a binding covenant no to sue, Monsanto refused stating it is not their policy to sue farmers with trace amounts of their patented genetically modified seeds.
The US Court of Appeals affirmed in favor of Monsanto stating that Monsanto expressed no intent to sue farmers who had crops containing trace amounts (less than 1 %) of their genetically modified patented seeds. That although this was not a covenant not to sue, it is still binding upon Monsanto as a matter of judicial estoppel.
Unfortunately this decision does not preclude Monsanto from suing organic farmers who are found to have more than trace amounts (1 % or more) of the genetically modified patented seeds among their crops. It also sidesteps and fails to address the proverbial elephant in the court room. That is, when Monsanto's deviant seeds contaminate our organic farms, the organic farmer is the victim who has sustained real damages and not Monsanto. To consistently hold in favor of Monsanto when they sue organic farmers who have been victimized by wind contamination, is injustice at the highest level.
Our courts need to stop maintaining the Monsanto status quo and trying to avoid decisions on the real Monsanto issues. Perhaps as the list of countries that refuse to buy our genetically modified food products increase, so will the court's willingness to make the tough decisions before economic ruin ensues.
Long Island Lawyer
Paul A. Lauto, Esq.