300,000 Organic Farmers Sue Monsanto in Federal Court: Decision on March 31st

 Published: Sunday 12 February 2012
“Willie Nelson calls for Occupy the Food System”

Lit­tle did Willie Nel­son know when he recorded “Crazy” years ago just how crazy it would be­come for our cher­ished fam­ily farm­ers in Amer­ica.   Nel­son, Pres­i­dent of Farm Aid, has re­cently called for the na­tional Oc­cupy move­ment to de­clare an “Oc­cupy  the Food Sys­tem” ac­tion.

http://www.nationofchange.org/300000-organic-farmers-sue-monsanto-federal-court-decision-march-31st-go-trial-1329059467

Nel­son states, “Cor­po­rate con­trol of our food sys­tem has led to the loss of mil­lions of fam­ily farm­ers, de­struc­tion of our soil…”

Hun­dreds of cit­i­zens, (even in­clud­ing NYC chefs in their white chef hats) joined Oc­cupy the Food Sys­tem groups, ie Food Democ­racy Now, gath­ered out­side the Fed­eral Courts in Man­hat­tan on  Jan­u­ary 31st, to sup­port or­ganic fam­ily farm­ers in their land­mark law­suit against Big Agribusi­ness giant Mon­santo. (Or­ganic Seed Grow­ers & Trade As­so­ci­a­tion v. Mon­santo) Oral ar­gu­ments were heard that day con­cern­ing the law­suit by 83 plain­tiffs rep­re­sent­ing over 300,000 or­ganic farm­ers, or­ganic seed grow­ers, and or­ganic seed busi­nesses.

The law­suit ad­dresses the bizarre and shock­ing issue of Mon­santo ha­rass­ing and threat­en­ing or­ganic farm­ers with law­suits of “patent in­fringe­ment” if any or­ganic farmer ends up with any trace amount of GM seeds on their or­ganic farm­land.

Judge Naomi Buck­wald heard the oral ar­gu­ments on Mon­santo’s Mo­tion to Dis­miss, and the legal team from Pub­lic Patent Foun­da­tion rep­re­sented the rights of Amer­i­can or­ganic farm­ers against Mon­santo, maker of GM seeds, [and ad­di­tion­ally, Agent Or­ange, dioxin, etc.]

After hear­ing the ar­gu­ments, Judge Buck­wald stated that on March 31st she will hand down her de­ci­sion on whether the law­suit will move for­ward to trial.

Not only does this law­suit de­bate the issue of Mon­santo po­ten­tially ru­in­ing the or­ganic farm­ers’ pure seeds and crops with the in­tro­duc­tion of Mon­santo’s ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied (GM) seeds any­where near the or­ganic farms, but ad­di­tion­ally any nearby GM fields can with­stand Mon­santo’s Roundup her­bi­cides, thus pos­si­bly fur­ther con­t­a­m­i­nat­ing the or­ganic farms nearby if Roundup is used.

Of course, the or­ganic farm­ers don’t want any­thing to do with that ole con­t­a­m­i­nated GM seed in the first place. In fact, that is why they are cer­ti­fied or­ganic farm­ers.  Hello?  But now they have to worry about get­ting sued by the very mon­ster they abhor,  and even have to spend extra money and land (for buffers which only some­times deter the con­t­a­m­i­nated seed from being swept by the wind into their crop land).   At this point, they are even hav­ing to re­sort to not grow­ing at all the fol­low­ing or­ganic plants: soy­beans, corn, cot­ton, sugar beets, and canola, …just to pro­tect them­selves from hav­ing any (un­wanted) plant that Mon­santo could pos­si­bly sue them over.

“Crazy, crazy for feel­ing so…..”

 

The farm­ers are suf­fer­ing the threat of pos­si­ble loss of Right Liveli­hood.  They are cre­at­ing good jobs for Amer­i­cans, and sup­ply­ing our purest foods.  These or­ganic farm­ers are bring­ing Amer­i­cans healthy food so we can be a healthy Na­tion, in­stead of the un­der­nour­ished and obese kids and adults that Pres­i­dent Obama wor­ries so much about us be­com­ing. 

So what was Pres­i­dent Obama doing when he ap­pointed Michael Tay­lor, a for­mer VP of Mon­santo, as Sr. Ad­vi­sor to the Com­mis­sioner at the FDA?  The FDA is re­spon­si­ble for “label re­quire­ments” and re­cently ruled under Michael Tay­lor’s time as  FDA Food Czar that GMO prod­ucts did not need to be la­beled as such, even though na­tional con­sumer groups loudly pro­fessed the pub­lic’s right to know what is ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied in the food sys­tem.  Sadly to re­mem­ber: Pres­i­dent Obama promised in cam­paign speeches that he would “let folks know what foods are ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied.”  These are the con­flict of in­ter­ests that lead to the 99% move­ment stand­ing up for the fam­ily farm­ers.

Just look at the con­fus­ing head­lines lately that re­vealed that mid-west­ern farms of GM corn will be sprayed with 2,4-D tox­ins found in the deadly Agent Or­ange.  Just refer to the pre­vi­ous law­suits taken all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court by U.S. Vet­er­ans who tried to argue the dan­gers of Mon­santo’s Agent Or­ange, and high rates of can­cers in our sol­diers who had to suf­fer the side ef­fects from their wartime ex­po­sures in Viet­nam.

 

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In 1980 alone, when all this mess started with cor­po­ra­tions wip­ing out the liveli­hoods of fam­ily farm­ers, the Na­tional Farm Med­i­cine Cen­ter re­ported that 900 male farm­ers in the Upper Mid­west com­mit­ted sui­cide.  That was nearly dou­ble the na­tional av­er­age for white men. Even sad­der is the fact that some of the farm­ers’ chil­dren also com­mit­ted sui­cide.  Stud­ies show that when one gen­er­a­tion of fam­ily farm­ers lose their farms, then the next gen­er­a­tion usu­ally can’t re­vive the fam­ily busi­ness and tra­di­tions later. 

Jim Ger­rit­sen, Pres­i­dent of the Or­ganic Seed Grow­ers and Trade As­so­ci­a­tion, has pointed out that there are 5th and 6th gen­er­a­tion fam­ily farm­ers being pushed off their farms today, and be­cause of a “cli­mate of fear” (from pos­si­ble law­suits from Mon­santo), they can’t grow some of the food they want to grow.

These farm­ers are the ones who have been able to sur­vive the changes over the past twenty years by choos­ing to go into the bud­ding niche of or­ganic farm­ing.  Now look at what they have to deal with while try­ing to grow suc­cess­ful busi­nesses: Mon­santo’s threats.

Even or­ganic dairy farm­ers have had to suf­fer law­suits ( from Mon­santo) when they la­beled their or­ganic milk “non-BGH” re­fer­ring to Mon­santo’s bovine growth hor­mone used by con­ven­tional dairies.

Con­sumers want or­ganic food, and they want Amer­ica’s pure food source to stay pro­tected in Amer­ica.  Made in Amer­ica, or­gan­i­cally, is the way of the fu­ture, and fam­ily farm­ers and seed busi­nesses should be free to main­tain their high stan­dards for or­ganic foods.  They de­serve pro­tec­tion from Big Agribusi­ness’ dan­ger­ous seeds tres­pass­ing on their crop­lands, not to men­tion the use of pes­ti­cides and her­bi­cides on GM crops.  The or­ganic in­dus­try has an “or­ganic seal” which is also im­por­tant to the suc­cess of fam­ily busi­nesses, and even that stamp of qual­ity is threat­ened by the spread of Mon­santo’s GM seed con­t­a­m­i­nat­ing their pure seed banks.

The Bank­ing in­dus­try is also partly to blame. Years be­fore the mort­gages and home fi­asco we have now, the farm­ers were the first to feel the squeeze.    I in­ter­viewed Willie Nel­son in the 1980’s, and he men­tioned even then the high rates of farmer sui­cides, and that Farm Aid was re­ceiv­ing let­ters from fam­ily farm­ers say­ing the banks had “called in their loans”, even though “we had never missed a pay­ment”. Was this just a veiled land grab for fer­tile lands, or to in­ten­tion­ally bank­rupt in­de­pen­dent fam­ily farm­ers?

It was so in­spir­ing years ago when Michelle Obama planted an or­ganic gar­den at the White House. It was a great prece­dent for the fu­ture, but what hap­pened?  It was ru­ined when they dis­cov­ered sewer sludge from pre­vi­ous Ad­min­is­tra­tions had con­t­a­m­i­nated their beau­ti­ful soil where the or­ganic veg­eta­bles were planted.  Just one small upset but it was reme­died for fu­ture plant­i­ngs.   What about our whole coun­try’s or­ganic food sup­ply being con­t­a­m­i­nated by pre­vi­ous Ad­min­stra­tions’ bad choices? Why did they ever allow Mon­santo to in­tro­duce ge­net­i­cally en­gi­neered seeds into our pure, or­ganic, and heir­loom stock­piles across Amer­ica in the first place?

Re­cently, the Obama Ad­min­is­tra­tion, in an ef­fort to boost food ex­ports, signed joint agree­ments with agri­cul­tural biotech­nol­ogy in­dus­try gi­ants, in­clud­ing Mon­santo, to re­move the last bar­ri­ers for the spread of more ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied crops.

But in this re­cent law­suit filed by the Or­ganic Seed Grow­ers & Trade As­so­ci­a­tion, it was ar­gued that a pre­vi­ous con­t­a­m­i­na­tion of a “ge­net­i­cally en­gi­neered va­ri­ety of rice”, named Lib­erty Link 601, in 2006, be­fore it was ap­proved for human con­sump­tion, “ex­ten­sively con­t­a­m­i­nated the com­mer­cial rice sup­ply, re­sult­ing in mul­ti­ple coun­tries ban­ning the im­port of U.S. rice.”  The world­wide eco­nomic loss was “up­ward to $1.285 bil­lion dol­lars” due to the pres­ence of GMOs…

What are every­day Amer­i­cans going to do to turn it around, to get rid of Mon­santo’s ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied seeds and its dan­ger­ous threat to Amer­ica’s heir­loom and or­ganic seed caches?

There is high rate of can­cer in Amer­ica, and eat­ing health­ier, es­pe­cially or­ganic foods, has been shown to have great ben­e­fits in beat­ing can­cer and other dis­eases.  When we have Agribusi­ness threat­en­ing in­de­pen­dent fam­ily farm­ers, which leads to the farm­ers feel­ing so scared that they don’t even plant their or­ganic crops that Amer­i­cans need, then per­haps we can all see what the 99% Oc­cupy Move­ment is try­ing to say about their con­flict of in­ter­est and seem­ingly abuse of pow­ers.

Willie Nel­son just re­leased a new poem on You Tube: “We stand with Hu­man­ity, against the In­san­ity, We’re the ones we’ve been wait­ing for…  We’re the Seeds and we’re the Core,  We’re the ones we’ve been wait­ing for;  We’re the ones with the 99%.”

Mon­santo’s prac­tices are a clear ex­am­ple of the wrong di­rec­tion that the 99% want our coun­try to go in.   How about shin­ing some light on Mon­santo, and be­fore it is too late, re­al­ize the dan­gers of ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied seeds which are con­t­a­m­i­nat­ing the world’s food sup­ply.

“Crazy, crazy for feel­ing so……  99% .

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