New Jersey Ag News
Attendees warned of Monsanto lawsuits
By JANE PRIMERANO
NEW BRUNSWICK — It’s rare that a speaker at a conference starts out by saying “I wish I didn’t have to be here,” but Daniel Ravicher, executive director of the Public Patent Foundation, started his talk at Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey annual Winter Conference just that way last month.
Ravicher, also a lecturer in law at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law of Yeshiva University in Greenwich Village, added, “I wish patents had nothing to do with organic farmers.”
Patents do have to do with organic farming. However, since Monsanto patented its genetically modified seeds. Monsanto is sending employees onto farms that neighbor farms with its seeds looking for evidence the seeds blew onto the farm property.
If they find evidence, they sue the farmer for using their seeds, Ravicher said. He explained the ag giant can sue because the statute has a no “intent” clause. If a farmer unintentionally allows genetically modified seeds to grow, he is liable.
The only way to determine if GM seeds blow onto a neighboring farm is if Roundup also blows over and it become apparent the crop is not susceptible to the pesticide.
If that is the case, Ravicher said, a farmer can enter a declaratory judgment against the owners of the seed to prevent them from suing.
Meanwhile, Ravicher is representing organic farmers in Osgata vs. Monsanto, a case before Judge Naomi Buckwald in the Southern District of New York.
His contention is that Monsanto’s GM seeds have the potential to ruin the organic farmer’s pure seeds and crops.
Additionally, since any nearby GM fields can withstand Roundup herbicides which could possibly further contaminate nearby organic farms, the suit contends.
Buckwald said she will hand down a decision on March 31.