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No-tillers growing non-biotech crops in which genetically modified crops are also growing due to wind-blown pollen or volunteer plants from a previous year’s seeds are liable to be sued by Monsanto Company, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Food Safety. So are no-tillers who grow biotech crops without signing Monsanto’s technology agreement, the group says.
The CFS says Monsanto has filed 90 lawsuits against 147 farmers in 25 states for breach of contract or patent infringement after the growers allegedly used Monsanto’s patented seeds improperly. So far, Monsanto has been awarded more than $15,250,000 in those suits, with the average judgement being just over $412,000 and the largest single penalty being $3,053,000, according to a CFS report.
The CFS opposes Monsanto’s legal actions, saying the company is trying to corner the market in crop seeds in the United States and the world while eliminating the “centuries-old” farming practice of seed saving. Monsanto says the required technology agreements, fees and lawsuits are meant to recoup and protect the company’s huge investment in genetically engineered seeds.
The CFS offers a toll-free hotline, 1-888-FARMHLP, that provides guidance and referrals to growers facing Monsanto lawsuits. The group’s report is available at www.centerforfoodsafety.org.
The CFS supports several proposed policies to eliminate future Monsanto suits, including local or state bans on the planting of biotech crops, revising the patent laws to exclude biotech crops, and adopting laws to prevent farmers from being liable for biotech crops resulting from volunteer plants or unintended pollination.