News / USA

Organic Farmers Sue Agribusiness Giant

Food activist Gianni Ortiz joined with others to protest the Monsanto Company's legal actions against organic small farms, January 31, 2012.
Food activist Gianni Ortiz joined with others to protest the Monsanto Company's legal actions against organic small farms, January 31, 2012.

New York City is not a place one normally expects to see farmers.  But on Tuesday, Manhattan’s Foley Square was a gathering place for scores of farmers and their supporters who are protesting lawsuits by U.S. agribusiness giant, the Monsanto Company.  

A group of small farmers and activists gathered outside federal district court in New York to show support for the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association. The 270,000 member trade group has filed a class action law suit against Monsanto, which manufactures most of the world’s genetically modified seeds and pollens.

The group is petitioning the court to prevent the company from suing association members for patent infringement if its genetically modified plants are found on its members’ farms.

In a written statement, Monsanto spokesman Thomas Helscher said "Monsanto never has and never will sue a farmer if our patented seed or traits are found in his field as a result of inadvertent means.”  

But Gianni Ortiz, founder and director of FarmAssist Productions, a nonprofit advocacy group for small farms, says she is aware of nearly 900 court cases in which Monsanto won damages from farmers because their crops contained plants grown from its genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

Ortiz says that one case Monsanto did not win involved a non-organic Canadian farmer. “There was truckload of GMO seed going from ’Point A’ to ‘Point B.’  The tarp came off the top of the truck and their seed blew into his field, and they went after him for years.  They are very aggressive," she said.

Ortiz does not deny that Monsanto products have been used illegally by some farmers, but she says organic farmers have a compelling financial reason not to do so.      

“This group of farmers, they clearly do not want anything to do with their genes, their [i.e., Monsanto's] pollens [and] their seeds because they will lose their certification.  So if they do wind up being contaminated, they are the ones who should be collecting damages, not Monsanto," she said.

Advocates for organic farmers in the Monsanto case call the lawsuit a “David versus Goliath” issue.  If so, Monsanto is a Goliath that is choosing its battles. In Tuesday's hearing, Monsanto sought to have the case dismissed.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid