By Leah Baines
On January 31st, family farmers will begin the first stage of a court case filed against agro-business powerhouse, Monsanto. The goal of the case, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) vs. Monsanto, is to protect the 300,000 organic and non-GMO American farmers from the genetic trespass of Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds, which contaminate organic crops and often leave farmers vulnerable to harmful patent infringement lawsuits.
Monsanto currently controls the genetics of nearly 90 percent of 5 major commodity crops including corn, soybeans, cotton, canola and sugar beets. Many farmers who do not use Monsanto seeds have had to stop growing their own crops in order to avoid genetic contamination from those used in fields nearby. According to OSGATA, Monsanto has “created an atmosphere of fear in rural America and driven dozens of farmers into bankruptcy.”
Food Democracy Now!, an organization working towards building a sustainable food system, says that Monsanto has filed 144 lawsuits against farmers, and settled out of court for undisclosed amounts of money for an additional 700 cases. These lawsuits leave farmers broke and unable to afford the legal costs associated with fighting Monsanto for something beyond their control in the first place.
Click here to learn how you can support these farmers. If you live New York City, you can attend OSGATA’s Citizen’s Assembly on the day of the trial to show farmers that you care about their right to grow crops without fear and the threat of injustice.
What are your thoughts about the case? Let us know in the comments section!
Leah Baines in a research intern for the Nourishing the Planet project.
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