THE U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision Jan. 13 that it will not consider the landmark federal lawsuit between growers and Monsanto Corp.: Organic Seed Growers & Trade Assn. (OSGATA) et al. vs. Monsanto.
Plaintiffs had argued that the case was needed to protect them from being accused of patent infringement should their fields ever become contaminated by Monsanto's genetically modified seed.
Kyle McClain, Monsanto chief litigation counsel, said in an email statement to Feedstuffs, "Monsanto never has and has committed it never will sue if our patented seed or traits are found in a farmer's field as a result of inadvertent means. The lower courts agreed there was no controversy between the parties, and the Supreme Court's decision not to review the case brings closure on this matter."
In a June 2013 ruling, three justices in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., ordered Monsanto not to sue American farmers whose fields were contaminated with trace amounts of patented material, which the court defined as 1%. The original lawsuit was filed in 2011 in federal district court in Manhattan, N.Y.
The large plaintiff group includes 83 individual American and Canadian family farmers, independent seed companies, agricultural organizations and public interest groups. The combined memberships of these groups total more than 1 million citizens, including many non-biotech farmers and more than 25% of North America's certified organic farmers.
"The Supreme Court failed to grasp the extreme predicament family farmers find themselves in," said organic seed farmer Jim Gerritsen, president of lead plaintiff OSGATA. "The court of appeals agreed our case had merit. However, the safeguards they ordered are insufficient to protect our farms and our families. This high court ... has now, in 2014, denied farmers the basic right of protecting themselves from the notorious patent bully Monsanto."