Monday, September 9, 2013

OSGATA vs Monsanto

It is a challenging time currently in the United States. Since the passage of Citizens United, many here feel as if our democracy has been bought and sold to the highest bidder. A recent interview with the director of Gas Land, Josh Fox gave an amazing picture of the people of the United States of America. He said that the issue of fraking would transform our democracy and show what kind of people we were as to how we would respond. I would add the GMO issue as well, as both fraking and GMO's are unifying the electorate in ways we never thought possible. We all eat, and anything that threatens to take our food away can dismantle even the staunchest opponents to do what is necessary to maintain our freedom to consume food.

There have been some stunning events in the realm of politics and law regarding GMO's. I got an update on my list serve about a law suit filed by 73 Organic and Conventional farmers to the Supreme Court of the United States. Through the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association something truly revolutionary is afoot. 

Lawyers with the Public Patent Foundation are making petitions to the court to do two things. Number one, this trade association wants to argue before the Supreme Court of the United States that farmers who do not sign contracts with Monsanto should be legally protected against financial liability if their fields are contaminated with GMO seeds. Currently Monsanto has "promised" not to sue, but only if the contamination does not exceed 1%. But Monsanto refuses to sign a binding agreement that it wont sue. Isn't that amazing? Monsanto claims it has proprietary rights, and if it's seeds slip out of territory, it can and has successfully sued farmers who did not want the stuff in the first place for patent infringement.

But the big thing this OSGATA suit aims to do is invalidate the Monsanto patents. How? By using the "social use clause" of the patent law. As Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story wrote in 1817, to be patentable, an invention must not be "injurious to the well-being, good policy, or sound morals of society," and "a new invention to poison people ... is not a patentable invention." Because transgenic seed, and in particular Monsanto's transgenic seed, is "injurious to the well-being, good policy, or sound morals of society" and threatens to "poison people," Monsanto's transgenic seed patents are all invalid. I just LOVE my system of justice here in the USA, our founding fathers and original court had a sense of morals and ethics I wish would rub off on certain people these days. What is truly amazing is if this gets heard, there is a good chance OSGATA will win, at the very least the realities of GMO's on humans, animals and the food system will get a VERY public airing.

This suit has global implications. While I have little faith in the corporatist court, it will be incredible if this case does get heard. Please follow this case through OSGATA. You can sign up for alerts, and they need money to help spread the word. 

I interviewed OSGATA President Jim Gerritsen for the July 10th program. It was so inspiring as well as educational, please listen and pass on the link, everyone needs to hear this example of food justice and democracy in action.

It is heart breaking that our farmers have to sue to keep our food system safe and accessible, but they are doing just that. Let's help them and make the public aware of what is really going on when it comes to who owns our food. As Jim so eloquently said in the interview, our seeds are part of the commons for public good. They should not be owned by anyone.

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