Pesticide Contamination Constitutes Illegal Trespass
According to this article, the Minnesota Court of Appeals recently ruled in favor of Oluf Johnson, an organic farmer who sued the Paynesville Farmers Union Cooperative Oil Co. because pesticides sprayed on its crops contaminated his fields. The court ruled that the drifting of pesticides onto Johnson’s farm constituted trespass.
This victory is potentially very meaningful, if it is used as a precedent in cases involving GMO crops. Every time Monsanto genetically alters a seed, it patents that seed. That patent allows it to sue any farmer whose crops are contaminated by its seeds – even if that farmer doesn’t want the GMO seeds and has not intentionally planted them – claiming the farmer has violated Monsanto’s patent.
However, this ruling could lay the groundwork for organic farmers to claim that the drifting of GMO seeds onto their property, like pesticides, is trespass. It is not organic farmers who violate Monsanto’s rights, but quite the opposite.
The ruling could give victimized farmers a vehicle for claiming damages. What’s more, due to the fact that, when GMO seeds are planted, it is inevitable that they will be wafted onto neighboring farms, it could give courts the legal grounds for preventing Monsanto from continuing to plant GMO fields, at least in certain locations. If GMO crops are planted close enough to non-GMO farms that planting them necessarily leads to illegal trespass, then surely it must be illegal for Monsanto to plant in such locations. It seems sometimes that Monsanto always wins when it goes to court, but this ruling appears to be a step in the right direction.