Monsanto vs. Vermont

While May 25 saw “March Against Monsanto” demonstrations held worldwide—in faraway locations like Bali, Indonesia, and Zagreb, Croatia, and nearby venues in Hartford and Springfield—the march in Montpelier, Vermont was unique in promising to take legal action against the giant agricultural biotech corporation. At the same time, Monsanto is threatening to sue Vermont over proposed legislation requiring the labeling of GMOs (genetically modified organisms).

Before adjourning for the summer, Vermont’s House of Representatives passed H-722, the “VT Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act,” by a vote of 99-42. The state senate is expected to vote on the measure in January 2014.

“Monsanto is no stranger to the American legal system and have forced competing farm after farm to be shut down or bought out by bringing lawsuits against the little guy throughout their history,” reports RT News. “Between 1997 and 2010, Monsanto’s legal team tried to file nearly 150 lawsuits against independent farmers, often for allegations that their patented GMO-seeds had somehow managed to be carried onto unlicensed farms. Often those farms have been unable to fight against Monsanto’s mega-lawyers and have been forced to fold in response. The Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association tried taking Monsanto to court earlier this year to keep them from following similar suits, but a Federal District Court judge in Manhattan shut down their plea. The group has since filed an appeal.”

Last month, Monsanto won an additional victory when “The Supreme Court … for the first time backed patents for a self-replicating technology—Monsanto’s “Roundup Ready” soybeans—along with its licensing agreement that allows farmers to use them only once,” Wired reports. “Welcome to farming in the age of patented, genetically modified organisms, which in this case concerned soybean crops that withstand herbicide.”

The Supreme Court’s unanimous decision “found that intellectual property rights took precedent over nature,” continues Wired. That’s a decision the defendant’s counsel vehemently disagreed with. “Practically, this issue affects every farmer in the country and the method of planting that farmers such as [my client] have used for generations.”

(Originally appeared in The Valley Advocate.)

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