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4-Patents: Monsanto assault on U.S. farmers detailed in new report

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TITLE:  Monsanto Assault on U.S. Farmers Detailed in New Report
SOURCE: Centre for Food Safety, USA
DATE:   13 Jan 2005

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Monsanto Assault on U.S. Farmers Detailed in New Report

First-of-its-Kind Analysis Reveals Thousands of Monsanto Investigations,
Nearly 100 Lawsuits and Numerous Bankruptcies

Toll-Free Hotline Established for Farmers Facing Lawsuits or Threats from
Monsanto to Get Guidance and Referrals

WASHINGTON - The Center for Food Safety released today an extensive
review of Monsanto's use and abuse of U.S. patent law to control the
usage of staple crop seeds by U.S. farmers. The Center (CFS) launched its
investigation to determine the extent to which American farmers have been
impacted by litigation arising from the use of patented genetically
engineered crops. Monsanto vs. U.S. Farmers details the results of this
research, discusses the ramifications for the future of farming in the
U.S. and outlines policy options for ending the persecution of America's

"These lawsuits and settlements are nothing less than corporate extortion
of American farmers," said Andrew Kimbrell executive Director of CFS.
"Monsanto is polluting American farms with its genetically engineered
crops, not properly informing farmers about these altered seeds, and then
profiting from its own irresponsibility and negligence by suing innocent
farmers. We are committed to stopping this corporate persecution of our
farmers in its tracks."

The report finds that, in general, Monsanto's efforts to prosecute
farmers can be divided into three stages: investigations of farmers; out-
of-court settlements; and litigation against farmers Monsanto believes
are in breach of contract or engaged in patent infringement. CFS notes in
the report that, to date, Monsanto has filed 90 lawsuits against American
farmers in 25 states that involve 147 farmers and 39 small businesses or
farm companies. Monsanto has set aside an annual budget of $10 million
dollars and a staff of 75 devoted solely to investigating and prosecuting

"Monsanto would like nothing more than to be the sole source for staple
crop seeds in this country and around the world," said Joseph Mendelson,
CFS legal director. "And it will aggressively overturn centuries-old
farming practices and drive its own clients out of business through
lawsuits to achieve this goal."

The largest recorded judgment CFS has found thus far in favor of Monsanto
as a result of a farmer lawsuit is $3,052,800.00. Total recorded
judgments granted to Monsanto for lawsuits amount to $15,253,602.82.
Farmers have paid a mean of $412,259.54 for cases with recorded
judgments. Many farmers have to pay additional court and attorney fees
and are sometimes even forced to pay the costs Monsanto incurs while
investigating them. "Monsanto is taking advantage of farmers with their
marketing and their threats and lawsuits," said Rodney Nelson, a North
Dakota farmer sued by Monsanto. "It's hard enough to farm as it is. You
don't need a big seed supplier trying to trip you up and chase you down
with lawyers."

Farmers even have been sued after their fields were contaminated by
pollen or seed from a previous year's crop has sprouted, or
"volunteered," in fields planted with non-genetically engineered
varieties the following year; and when they never signed Monsanto's
Technology Agreement but still planted the patented crop seed. In all of
these cases, because of the way patent law has been applied, farmers are
technically liable. It does not appear to matter if the use was unwitting
or if a contract was never signed.

Various policy options supported by CFS include passing local and state-
wide bans or moratoriums on plantings of genetically engineered crops;
amending the Patent Act so that genetically engineered plants will no
longer be patentable subject matter and so that seed saving is not
considered patent infringement; and legislating to prevent farmers from
being liable for patent infringement through biological pollution.

CFS has established a toll-free hotline for farmers facing lawsuits or
threats from Monsanto to get guidance and referrals: 1-888-FARMHLP.

View Report Here

The Center for Food Safety
660 Pennsylvania Ave, SE, #302
Washington DC 20003
P: (202)547-9359, F: (202)547-9429


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