Willie Nelson Joins Suit Against Agro Giant Monsanto

February 18, 2012 by  
Filed under Music/Book/Film/Art

The singer Willie Nelson has joined with 300,000 other activists in a lawsuit against the U.S. agricultural giant Monsanto, citing the company’s practice of suing small farmers whose fields have been contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds. The suit was filed as part of the “Occupy the Food System” campaign protesting the corporate takeover of small farms and the use of harmful pollutants like Monsanto’s “Roundup” herbicide.

Democracy Now! reports today:

Willie Nelson Joins 300,000 Activists in Suit Against Monsanto

Willie Nelson joins a plaintiff group of over 300,000 members in a lawsuit against big-ag giant Monsanto challenging the company’s patents on genetically modified seed.

 

Willie Nelson

(photo: Dave Hensley)

The singer Willie Nelson has joined with 300,000 other activists in a lawsuit against the U.S. agricultural giant Monsanto, citing the company’s practice of suing small farmers whose fields have been contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds. The suit was filed as part of the “Occupy the Food System” campaign protesting the corporate takeover of small farms and the use of harmful pollutants like Monsanto’s “Roundup” herbicide.

The Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association (OSGATA) explains the lawsuit background on its website:

The case, Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association, et al. v. Monsanto, was filed in federal district court in Manhatten on March 29, 2011, on behalf of 60 family farmers, seed businesses and organic agricultural organizations, challenging Monsanto’s patents on genetically modified seed. On June 1, 2011, we amplified our OSGATA v. Monsanto complaint by bringing on an additional 23 Plaintiffs to bring the total to 83. Our plaintiff group now represents over 300,000 members.

(photo: Ian MacKenzie)

As Grist noted last week, the plaintiffs say that “Monsanto wants ultimate and absolute control over everything:”

OSGATA and company finally got their day in court on Jan. 31. Approximately 200 farmers and supporters showed up in front of the Federal District Court in Manhattan for opening arguments. Occupy Wall Street’s food justice working group helped organize the rally, though they are not plaintiffs in the suit. “We’re part of OWS, which is all about corporate consolidation, and you can’t discuss that without addressing agriculture,” says Corbin Laedlein, a member of the working group.

“We want nothing to do with Monsanto. We don’t want their seed. We don’t want their technology. We don’t want their contamination,” says Jim Gerritsen, an organic farmer from Maine and president of OSGATA. The organization originally brought the idea of a suit to the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT), a group that wants to change how patent law works in the U.S., and PUBPAT took on the case pro bono. In Gerritsen’s estimation, about 300,000 individuals are involved in the case by proxy of organizations they’re a part of, including most certified organic farmers in the country. Gerritsen calls the dustings of GMO-crop pollen and the occasional seed carried wayward by the wind — a natural atmospheric occurrence found in what is known as the “outdoors” — contamination which not only is unwelcome, but can also could potentially lower the quality and value of organic and other non-GMO crops.

“They are probably the most aggressive patent holder in the U.S.,” Gerritsen adds. According to PUBPAT, between 1997 and April 2010, Monsanto filed 144 lawsuits against farmers for patent infringement, and more than 500 farms are investigated each year.

“The seed that Monsanto doesn’t control, they will control through contamination,” Gerritsen says. “Monsanto wants ultimate and absolute control over everything.”

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