Ohio Farmers and Growers Take on Agricultural Giant

Ohio Public News Service
Mary Kuhlman
April 11, 2011
For audio, go to http://www.publicnewsservice.org/index.php?/content/article/19396-1

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Organic farmers and growers from the Buckeye State are involved in a landmark lawsuit challenging a seed and chemical giant’s patents. The suit would prohibit Monsanto from suing farmers whose crops become genetically contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically-modified seeds.

The board president of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, Darren Malhame, says contamination can cause organic growers to lose their organic certifications, and put them out of business. He adds it’s a matter that could affect the future of organic farming.

“This lawsuit is really about protecting farmers’ ability and freedom to practice their art in a way that’s not only beneficial for them, but beneficial for society as a whole.”

Farmers say it’s nearly impossible to prevent Monsanto seeds getting into their crops, because animals and wind can pick up the seed and distribute it widely.

Malhame charges that Monsanto has been trying to monopolize the seed market with its patents, and has a history of suing farmers who say their fields have become contaminated with their genetically-modified seed, so he feels those who are involved in this lawsuit should be commended.

“Standing up to an organization like Monsanto is really an act of bravery, but it’s also an act of patriotism, because it’s really standing up for the best interest of everyone who depends on agriculture to live, which is all of us.”

Monsanto has said the lawsuit is misleading, and that it has never sued farmers over, as the company puts it, “the inadvertent presence of biotechnology traits” in their fields.

The case was filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. The plaintiff organizations represent more than 270,000 members, including thousands of certified organic family farmers.