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US court dismisses lawsuit against Monsanto

A U.S. judge has thrown out a lawsuit against Monsanto and criticized the plaintiffs for creating "a controversy where none exists."

The Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) were hoping for a ruling that would stop Monsanto from suing farmers or dealers if their organic seed became contaminated with Monsanto's patented genetically modified seed. The Public Patent Foundation filed the lawsuit on behalf of OSGATA and more than 50 other organizations in March, 2011.

Judge Naomi Buchwald threw out the case, and in her ruling found that the lawsuit was "a transparent effort to create controversy where none exists" since Monsanto had not taken or suggested any action against any of the plaintiffs.

The ruling also cited Monsanto's commitment that "it has never been, no will it be, Monsanto policy to exercise its patent rights where trace amounts of our patented seeds or traits are present in a farmer's fields as a result of inadvertent means" and said that there was no likelihood Monsanto would pursue patent infringement against organic farmers who have no interest in using Monsanto products.

Monsanto has filed 144 patent infringement lawsuits against farmers between 1997 and 2010, according to Reuters, and won judgements against farmers that it claimed made use of Monsanto seed without paying required royalties.

According to a report from, the OSGATA plans to appeal Judge Buchwald's decision (which comes, incidentally, on a day of action to end corporate exploitation of food systems.)

Colleen Kimmett reports for The Tyee.

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