March 28 (Reuters) - A group of U.S. family farmers said on
Wednesday it is appealing its lawsuit against Monsanto Co to
challenge the company's patents on technologies for genetically
The group of organic farmers and seed dealers says its
industry is at risk from Monsanto's growing market dominance.
"Farmers are under threat. Our right to farm the way we
choose, and to grow pure organic seed and healthy food on our
farms for our families and for our customers is under assault,"
said Maine organic seed farmer Jim Gerritsen, president of the
Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, lead plaintiff in
The group sued Monsanto in March 2011. U.S. District Court
Judge Naomi Buchwald, for the Southern District of New York,
threw out the case last month, criticizing the groups for a
"transparent effort to create a controversy where none exists".
The group of more than 50 organizations filed its notice of
appeal o n Wednesday, seeking review by the U.S. Court of Appeals
for the Federal Circuit.
The lawsuit challenges the company's patents on its
genetically modified seeds and seeks to prohibit Monsanto from
suing the farmers or dealers if their organic seed becomes
contaminated with Monsanto's patented biotech seed germplasm.
Monsanto spokesman Thomas Helscher said the company was
aware of the filing of an appeal.
"We remain confident about our legal and practical stance,"
Monsanto is the world's largest seed company and a leader in
development and marketing of genetically altered soybeans, corn
and other crops.
The company has developed a reputation for zealously
defending patents on its genetically altered crops, which
include patented "Roundup Ready" soybeans, corn and cotton. The
crops are favorites of U.S. farmers because of their ability to
withstand herbicide treatments.
Monsanto filed 144 patent-infringement lawsuits against
farmers between 1997 and April 2010, and won judgments against
farmers it said made use of its seed without paying required
Many U.S. farmers have said their fields were inadvertently
contaminated with Monsanto's biotech seeds without their
knowledge. The issue has been a topic of concern for not only
farmers, but also companies that clean and handle seed.
The court ruling said there was no likelihood that Monsanto
would pursue patent-infringement cases against the organic
farmers, who have no interest in using the company's patented
(Reporting by Carey Gillam)
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