In a decision that would have protected farmers from corporate lawsuit, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Court has sided with Monsanto, affirming a previous ruling on the matter. U.S. organic growers filed the original suit against Monsanto in an effort to protect themselves from being sued if the company’s patented biotech genes inadvertently mixed with their own organic crops.
The farmers are concerned that Monsanto, which has been aggressive in the legal defense of its patents, will take legal action against them if their crops accidentally mix with genetically modified ones. It is a proven challenge preventing the biotech crops from invading the organic crops. Organic farmers have been worried for some time that they will be sued for their own crops being contaminated.
Monsanto has made a pledge that they will not pursue legal action if such a combination of crops were to accidentally occur. In a statement issued by the company, Monsanto officials denied the likelihood of a lawsuit against farmers happening. “The assertion that Monsanto would pursue patent infringement against farmers that have no interest in using the company’s patented seed technology was hypothetical from the outset.”
In the Court of Appeals, it was decided that the statements made on Monsanto’s website are enough to protect farmers from suit by the company. The court’s ruling stated, “Monsanto’s binding representations remove any risk of suit against the appellants as users or sellers of trace amounts(less than one percent) of modified seed.” The Court also stated that though Monsanto has not signed any specific agreements, the assurances on the website were sufficient and would be considered a binding agreement.
Time will tell if Monsanto will keep its word. In the meantime, organic farmers continue to worry about the contamination of their crops by the genetically modified, patent-protected seed Monsanto produces.