At the end of February, Federal District Judge Naomi Buchwald dismissed the case of the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) et al vs. Monsanto. While the biotechnology corporation hailed the ruling as justice, OSGATA and its allies in the case stated that they had every intention of appealing the decision. This week those intentions became action, as the group officially filed its notice of appeal.
Reuters reports that the organic growers and trade associations associated with the lawsuit filed their appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit this Wednesday. The original lawsuit – in which organic farmers sought protection for themselves from patent-infringement lawsuits if trademarked Monsanto genetic material involuntarily ended up on their land – was filed in March of 2011 and was dismissed at the end of this February, on the grounds that Monsanto had not yet brought a lawsuit against the growers involved in the case. In her ruling, Judge Buchwald stated that OSGATA et al vs. Monsanto was a "transparent effort to create a controversy where none exists." According to the same report, however, that statement may not line up with Monsanto’s record:
The company has developed a reputation for zealously defending patents on its genetically altered crops, which include patented "Roundup Ready" soybeans, corn and cotton. The crops are favorites of U.S. farmers because of their ability to withstand herbicide treatments.
Monsanto filed 144 patent-infringement lawsuits against farmers between 1997 and April 2010, and won judgments against farmers it said made use of its seed without paying required royalties.
With this record, organic growers and seed cleaners have expressed worry that contaminated crops and related lawsuits could put their industry at serious risk, leading to the decision to continue fighting for protection in court.
Monsanto itself is aware that the notice of appeal has been filed: spokesperson Thomas Helscher told reporters that "we remain confident about our legal and practical stance.”