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Monsanto Funds Anti-GE Labeling Efforts in Washington

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, September 12, 2013) Monsanto recently made a multi-million dollar contribution to an organization fighting to stop a ballot initiative in Washington State that would force food processors to label genetically engineered (GE) ingredients. Monsanto has poured millions of dollars into multiple anti-labeling efforts, previously contributing over $7 million against a similar proposition in California last year. In spite of being out fundraised, support for labeling GE ingredients remains strong in Washington State, and consumers across the country are becoming increasingly aware of the problems associated with GE crops. Washington State’s Initiative 522 (I-522), which will be voted on this coming November, will require manufactured raw agricultural products that are genetically engineered, and processed foods with GE ingredients to be labeled by July 1, 2015. However, in the past week Monsanto contributed nearly $4.6 million to the ‘No on 522’ campaign. With this recent contribution by Monsanto, the No on 522 campaign, which opposes GE labeling, has raised close to $7.9 million, $3.5 million more than the Yes on 522 campaign. This influx of corporate money was predicted by Beyond Pesticides last month. In Washington state, individual and corporate contributions to campaigns for elected office cannot exceed $800-$1800 depending […]

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Another Study Finds Rootworms Resistant to Genetically Engineered Corn

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, September 3, 2013) For the past several years, corn rootworms  have  been widely reported to exhibit resistance  to corn genetically engineered (GE) with the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxin. A  new report by  University of Illinois researchers found the resistant corn rootworm  in two of the state’s counties significantly damaged by western corn rootworm. The increasing lack of efficacy of GE corn, developed with the claim that it  is specifically designed to protect corn from rootworm, calls into question the efforts of agrichemical companies to patent new forms of GE crops. The report by Joe Spencer, PhD, and Michael Gray, PhD,  identifies significant damage from western corn rootworms in farm field that were planted with GE corn that contain a Bt protein referred to as “Cry3Bb1,” which has been inserted into nearly one-third of the corn planted in the United States. This version of Bt corn was introduced by Monsanto in 2003, and was touted as a way to reduce insecticide use against rootworm pests. Evidence was gathered in two Illinois counties, Livingston and Kankakee, after fields that had severe root pruning and lodging were brought to the attention of Drs. Spencer and Gray. Dr. Gray was quoted in […]

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Monsanto Promises Not to Sue for GE Contamination

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, June 12, 2013) A three-judge panel  of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled Monday that a group of organic and otherwise non-GE farmer and seed company plaintiffs are not entitled to bring a lawsuit to protect themselves from Monsanto’s transgenic seed patents after Monsanto made binding assurances that it will not take legal action against growers whose crops might inadvertently be contaminated with traces of Monsanto biotech genes. Organic farmers and others have worried for years that they will be sued by Monsanto for patent infringement if their crops get contaminated with Monsanto genetically engineered (GE) material from GE crops. Organic and non-GE farms get contaminated when pollen or seed migrate from neighboring GE farms. Even though wind or insect transfer of pollen is a natural process, Monsanto has been suing farmers for infringing on their patents if contamination is found on their farms. Monsanto’s history of aggressive investigations and lawsuits brought against farmers is a major source of concern for organic and non-GE agricultural producers since Monsanto’s first lawsuit brought against a farmer in the mid-”˜90s. As of 2012, Monsanto has filed 142 alleged seed patent infringement lawsuits involving 410 farmers and 56 small […]

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Protesters March Worldwide Against Monsanto

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, May 29, 2013) Last weekend across the world thousands of protesters rallied in dozens of cities against industry giant Monsanto and its genetically engineered (GE) products. “March Against Monsanto,” a coordinated day of action and protest, was held in 52 countries and 436 cities, including Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, even after Congress voted against allowing states to require labeling of GE foods. The organizers of the May 25 rally call for labeling of GE foods and further scientific research on the health effects of GE foods. Demonstrators hoped to raise awareness of the issue and waved signs that read “Real Food 4 Real People” and “Label GMOs, It’s Our Right to Know.” They also urge supporters to “vote with their dollar” by buying only organic products and boycotting Monsanto-owned companies. Protesters in the U.S. urged opposition to the so-called “Monsanto Protection Act” which takes away the authority of federal courts to halt the sale or production of GE crops, undermining the courts’ ability to protect farmers and the environment from potentially hazardous GE crops. “We’re marching to raise awareness,” said Dorothy Muehlmann, 30, of Corona, who organized the L.A. march with help from groups such as Occupy […]

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Supreme Court Finds Farmer in Violation of Monsanto’s GE Seed Patent

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, May 15, 2013) The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that farmers cannot replant patented genetically engineered (GE) seed as it violates licensing agreements. This means that farmers must pay industry giants like Monsanto for seed each growing season, sealing the agribusiness giant’s quest to  fundamentally  alter  the nature  of farming. This ruling is a blow to farmers who have been persecuted by Monsanto for ”˜trespassing’ on patent rights due to saving seed. The case, Bowman v. Monsanto, is a patent case which argues that Indiana farmer Vernon Bowman infringed on Monsanto’s GE soybean patent rights by purchasing from a third-party seed supplier instead of Monsanto, and benefited from successive harvests of the GE crop. Monsanto said Mr. Bowman’s plantings violated the company’s patent agreement that farmers are required to sign when they purchase GE seed. First, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit agreed and told Mr. Bowman to pay nearly $85,000 in damages. Mr. Bowman appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, which handed down its decision on Monday. The Center for Food Safety (CFS), which filed a brief on behalf of Mr. Bowman, put forward a legal framework to the court to safeguard […]

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Report Finds Pesticide Hazards to Endangered Species Inadequately Reviewed by EPA

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, May 2, 2013) A committee of the National Academy of Sciences’ Research Council (NRC) issued a new report that outlines steps to improve regulatory problems associated with pesticides that harm endangered and threatened species. The report, Evaluating Risks That Pesticides Pose to Endangered, Threatened Species — New Report  suggests the need to overhaul  EPA’s deeply flawed pesticide approval process. Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), before a pesticide can be sold, distributed, or used in the United States, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is required to determine  that the pesticide does not cause unreasonable adverse effects on the environment. However,  in the case of species  listed as endangered or threatened under  the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA), all federal agencies, including  EPA,  are required to ensure that their actions will not jeopardize the continued existence of a listed species by diminishing the species’ numbers and  reproduction. To do this, in its pesticide registration process,  EPA is required to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) when a federal action may adversely  affect a listed species or its habitat. Over the last decade, questions have been raised regarding […]

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Act Before Midnight Tonight to Stop Antibiotic Use in Organic Apple and Pear Production

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, March 19, 2013) The phase-out of antibiotic use in apple and pear production may continue beyond 2014 unless the public speaks out. Luckily, unlike the closed-door meetings that surround the rulemaking process in other government agencies, organic regulations are unique because they include a key ingredient: you, the public. Twice a year, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) solicits comments from the public on materials petitioned for use in organic, and issues of concern to the organic community. Below is a brief summary of select issues and proposed materials that are up for review at the Spring 2013 National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting. Your participation is vital as it will help determine the future of organic in the United States: Will antibiotics continue to be allowed in apple and pear production after years of delay? Will “inert” ingredients be reviewed after a workable policy for addressing them has now been developed? Will “other” ingredients continue to be surreptitiously added to organic food without review? Your input is needed before midnight on Tuesday, March 19 to ensure that the NOSB keeps these and other hazardous synthetic substances out of organics. These materials are dangerous to our health and […]

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EU Report: Precautionary Approach Beneficial to Avoid Environmental Disasters

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, January 30, 2013) A new report, “Late lessons from early warnings: science, precaution, innovation,” from the European Environment Agency (EEA) concludes that concerns raised by the scientific community on bee death, genetically engineered (GE) food, and nanotechnology support the need for a precautionary approach to public policy. Significantly, the report concludes that the “precautionary principle,” whereby industry and policy makers are advised to take seriously  early warnings about potential environmental impacts is “nearly always beneficial.” The report cites some industry efforts to undermine precautionary decision making. The report features case studies on environmental impacts, such as mercury poisoning, effects on fertility caused by pesticides, and the impact of pharmaceuticals on some ecosystems, and raises questions about the potential wider impacts of GE crops, nanotechnology, nuclear power, and the effect of pesticides on bee populations. The report lays the blame for numerous environmental crises squarely at the feet of corporations and policy makers who ignore early warnings about environmental impacts. “The historical case studies show that warnings were ignored or sidelined until damage to health and the environment was inevitable,” the EEA said. “In some instances, companies put short-term profits ahead of public safety, either hiding or ignoring the […]

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SW Oregon To Vote on GE Crop Ban as New Mexico and Washington Consider Labeling Initiatives

Monday, January 7th, 2013

(Beyond Pesticides, January 7, 2013) After organic seed farmers found genetically engineered (GE) sugar beets planted by Syngenta AG, a multinational Swiss corporation, within four miles of their farms, a local branch of GMO-Free Oregon filed a petition to ban GE crops in Jackson County. Farmers have already been forced to throw away seed or till under crops so they do not accidentally use GE tainted crops. GMO-Free Jackson County, which is located in the Southeast corner of the state of Oregon collected 6,700 signatures with the county’s election offices in an effort to place a ballot measure on the May 2014 primary ballot.  4,462 signatures are required to get on the ballot, but they must be reviewed by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners to make sure they are valid first. If too many signatures are ruled invalid, organizers will have one year to gather more. Another chapter of GMO-Free Oregon, GMO-Free Benton County, which is located in the Willamette Valley, has also been working on a ban of GE crops in its county. Allowing GE crops to be grown close to organic produce increases the risk of cross contamination, as pollen from GE crops has the potential to […]

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National Organic Coalition Condemns USDA GE Report as Misguided

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

(Beyond Pesticides, November 21, 2012) The National Organic Coalition (NOC) yesterday sharply condemned recommendations contained in the final report of the Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture (AC21), a group appointed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to address transgenic contamination of organic and non-genetically engineered (GE) crops. Of particular concern in the report is the recommendation that organic and non-GE conventional farmers pay for crop insurance or self-insure themselves against unwanted GE contamination. NOC strongly asserts that this proposal allows USDA and the agricultural biotechnology industry to abdicate responsibility for preventing GE contamination, while making the victim of GE pollution pay for damages resulting from transgenic contamination. “The AC21 report takes responsibility for GE contamination prevention out of the hands of USDA and the biotech industry where it belongs and puts it squarely on the backs of organic and non-GE farmers,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director at Center for Food Safety and a NOC member. “This ill-conceived solution of penalizing the victim is fundamentally unjust and fails to address the root cause of the problem – transgenic contamination.” In August 2011, USDA convened AC21 and charged it with identifying compensation mechanisms to address GE contamination. The […]

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Pollinators Need Your Support!

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

(Beyond Pesticides, September 18, 2012) Take Action! On September 25, EPA will close its public comment period for the petition requesting the agency to suspend the bee-killing pesticide clothianidin. The U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has failed to recognize that pollinators face unique hazards from clothianidin, a neonicotinoid pesticide which is linked to disruptions in bee mobility, navigation, and feeding behavior. So far thousands of concerned beekeepers, gardeners, hobbyists and folks like you have told EPA to suspend clothianidin and protect pollinators now! Without your support, clothianidin’s effects on honey bees will continue to put beekeepers, rural economies, and our food system at risk. With one in three bites of food reliant on honey bee pollination, it’s imperative that we act now! Tell EPA to suspend the use of the bee-killer clothianidin and protect pollinators. See sample comments here. If you are having trouble submitting to the docket, click here. Background Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is the name given to the mysterious decline of honey bee populations around the world beginning in 2006. On average, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that beekeepers have been losing over 30% of their honey bee colonies each year—but some are losing many […]

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EPA Seeks Public Comment on Endangered Species Proposal

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

(Beyond Pesticides, August 30, 2012) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on August 17 that it is seeking comments on a proposal developed jointly with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to enhance opportunities for stakeholder input during pesticide registration reviews and endangered species consultations. The proposal specifically emphasizes coordination across federal agencies and expanding USDA’s role, as well as pesticide users to provide current pesticide use information to EPA’s ecological risk assessments. The proposal describes EPA’s plan to reach out to potentially affected pesticide users to discuss the technical and economic feasibility of draft Reasonable and Prudent Alternatives (RPAs) intended to avoid jeopardy to threatened and/or endangered species. It also describes the process by which public comments received on RPAs will be summarized and organized by EPA and provided to the Services, which will prepare a document to be included in the administrative record of the consultation explaining how comments were considered, and if appropriate, how the final biological opinion was modified to address the comments. The Services will provide the document to EPA, and both the Services and EPA will make the document […]

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Court Blocks Planting of Genetically Engineered Canola in Oregon

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

(Beyond Pesticides, August 22, 2012) The Oregon Court of Appeals has ordered a temporary halt to the state’s plan to allow genetically engineered (GE) canola to be planted in parts of the Willamette Valley, Oregon. The order is in effect until the court rules on a lawsuit filed by opponents of GE canola planting who say it threatens the state’s $32 million specialty seed industry. The lawsuit and court order are in response to new rules, not subject to required public comment, that would allow for the planting of GE canola in areas previously deemed off-limits. The lawsuit seeking to enjoin the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) from opening to GE canola planting previously protected zones was filed last week in the Oregon Court of Appeals. ODA removed a 2009 rule that banned the planting of all canola on more than 3 million acres in Oregon’s Willamette Valley to protect specialty vegetable seed producers who feared contamination by the plant, which cross-pollinates easily. ODA said it would require GE canola and specialty seed producers to report where and what they intend to grow on 1.7 million acres in the restricted zone, all without a public comment period or hearing. GE […]

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Oregon Officials Fast-Track Decision Allowing GE Canola in Willamette Valley

Monday, August 13th, 2012

(Beyond Pesticides, August 13, 2012) Until last Friday, Willamette Valley’s organic farmers and seed producers were protected from the planting and cross-pollination of their crops by GE canola. However, new rules, fast-tracked without public comment by the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) (announced August 3rd and effective only a week later), now allow for the planting of GE canola in areas previously deemed off-limits. ODA Director Katy Coba states in the department’s press release, “Since canola has been deregulated by USDA, ODA does not differentiate between conventional and GM canola or treat them differently.” Given that 93% of U.S planted canola crops are genetically modified, this move represents a large threat to the integrity of Oregon’s internationally recognized organic seed industry. The new rules are temporary for 180 days, but ODA plans to propose and implement permanent rules before the temporary ones expire. The department will begin accepting public input once the permanent rules are proposed, but by then the canola will already be in the ground. ODA’s decision is a dramatic shift from its previous policy on canola planting in the valley. The previous regulation, ORS 603-052-0880(2) stated, “Production of rapeseed for oil or seed is incompatible with production […]

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Appeal Filed in Suit to Protect Farmers from Monsanto

Friday, July 13th, 2012

(Beyond Pesticides, July 13, 2012) Seventy-five family farmers, seed businesses, and agricultural organizations representing over 300,000 individuals and 4,500 farms filed a brief on July 5, 2012 with the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington asking the appellate court to reverse a lower court’s decision from February dismissing their protective legal action against agricultural giant Monsanto’s patents on genetically engineered seed. The plaintiffs brought the preemptive case against Monsanto in March 2011 in the Southern District of New York and specifically seek to defend themselves from nearly two dozen of Monsanto’s most aggressively asserted patents on GMO seed. They were forced to act preemptively to protect themselves from Monsanto’s abusive lawsuits, fearing that if GMO seed contaminates their property despite their efforts to prevent such contamination, Monsanto will sue them for patent infringement. Beyond Pesticides signed on as a plaintiff in the suit in June 2011. “Monsanto is known for bullying farmers by making baseless accusations of patent infringement,” said attorney Dan Ravicher of the not-for-profit legal services organization Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT), which represents the plaintiffs in the suit against Monsanto known as Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association et al. v Monsanto. “They’ve […]

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Fisheries Service Tells EPA to Better Protect Endangered Species from Pesticides

Monday, April 16th, 2012

(Beyond Pesticides, April 16, 2012) The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has released a draft Biological Opinion finding that three commonly used herbicides are increasing the chance of extinction for threatened and endangered Pacific salmon and steelhead runs. The NMFS assessment reverses earlier assurances from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the pesticides are “not likely to adversely affect” the dwindling salmon populations. The draft Opinion also contains restrictions on applying the three pesticides near waterways in California, Washington, Oregon and Idaho that provide habitat for the threatened and endangered runs. Public comment on the draft is being accepted through April 30 and the restrictions on applying the pesticides will take effect no later than one year after the final assessment is released. NMFS prepared the draft Opinion in response to EPA’s initial assessment of the risk that current uses of the herbicides oryzalin, pendimethalin and trifluralin pose for the threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead species. NMFS’ findings contradict significant conclusions from EPA’s work and highlight weaknesses in the agency’s current ecological risk assessment process that underestimate risk and fail to meet modern standards of analysis. For example, NMFS cites EPA’s failure to provide any analysis of […]

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Farmers and Groups File Appeal to Defend Right to Grow Food

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

(Beyond Pesticides, April 2, 2012) Last Wednesday in Federal District Court in Manhattan, family farmers filed their Notice of Appeal to Judge Naomi Buchwald’s February 24th ruling dismissing Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association et al v. Monsanto. The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit will hear the farmers’ appeal, seeking to reinstate the case, which has received worldwide attention. The farmers are determined to move forward with their lawsuit challenging Monsanto’s patents on genetically engineered seed technologies in order to continue their pursuit of Declaratory Judgment Act court protection from Monsanto’s claims of patent infringement should their crops become contaminated by Monsanto’s seed. “Farmers have the right to protect themselves from being falsely accused of patent infringement by Monsanto before they are contaminated by Monsanto’s transgenic seed,” said Dan Ravicher, Executive Director of the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT), a not-for-profit legal services organization based at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law that represents the plaintiffs. “Judge Buchwald erred by denying plaintiffs that right and they have now initiated the process of having her decision reversed.” The original complaint in OSGATA et al v. Monsanto was filed on March 29, 2011. In July, Monsanto filed a motion […]

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Over One Million Comments Delivered to FDA Call for Labeling GE Foods

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

(Beyond Pesticides, March 29, 2012) The Just Label It Campaign (JLI) announced this week that more than one million Americans submitted comments supporting its petition to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to require labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods. The JLI Campaign, a national coalition of more than 500 partner organizations including Beyond Pesticides, submitted the petition in October 2011 to mobilize the overwhelming public support for such labeling. An astonishing 93% of consumers from a national survey in 2010 stated that they favored labeling of GE foods as is currently required in the European Union, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Russia, and China. As of the March 27 cut-off date, the JLI Campaign had generated approximately 1,078,000 signatures for its petition —the most comments ever submitted to FDA on a food-related subject. Gary Hirshberg, chairman of JLI Campaign partner Stonyfield, stated that, “In recent years, Americans have shown a real interest in knowing more about our food and now there is a clear mandate for the labeling of genetically engineered foods. This petition asks the FDA to stand up for the rights of average Americans, and not just a handful of powerful chemical companies. It’s time for the FDA […]

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New Biological Pesticide To Enter Market

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

(Beyond Pesticides, March 8, 2012) Researchers at Montana State University-Bozeman (MSU) have discovered a bacterium that could control a variety of plant diseases caused by funghi, bacteria and viruses, and are working with Certis USA, a global biological pesticide company, to develop and commercialize it by early 2013. The product will be based on Bacillus mycoides isolate J, (BmJ), which itself is a naturally occurring, nonpathogenic bacterium that triggers a plant’s immune response to pathogenic funghi, bacteria and viruses resulting in systemic acquired resistance to diseases. BmJ belongs to the Bacillus cereus complex, which also includes Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt), a soil bacterium that is used as biological pesticide by organic farmers, but also widely incorporated into some genetically engineered crops. MSU scientist Barry Jacobsen, Ph.D. first discovered the bacterium in 1994 when a field of sugar beet crops in Sidney, MT had been devastated and nearly wiped out due to the Cercospora leaf spot. Area farmers were spending millions of dollars on aerial applications of fungicides to fight the disease, but were losing the battle due to resistance. Dr. Jacobsen and his team of researchers looked to the few surviving plants to find out what enabled them to ward off […]

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Judge Dismisses Case Against Monsanto, Organic Farmers To Appeal

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

(Beyond Pesticides, March 2, 2012) A U.S. District Court Judge on February 24 dismissed the case of Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association et al v. Monsanto and organic farmers, seed growers, and agricultural organizations vowed to fight on. The plaintiffs filed this lawsuit to shield farmers from being sued for patent infringement by Monsanto should they become contaminated by drift of the company’s genetically engineered seed, a legal strategy Monsanto has been pursuing for years. The case, Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association, et al. v. Monsanto, challenges Monsanto’s patents on genetically modified seed. The suit was originally filed on behalf of 60 plaintiffs on March 29, 2011, with 23 new plaintiffs, including Beyond Pesticides joining on June 1. The 83 plaintiffs involved in the suit represent a combined membership in excess of 300,000 people. Daniel Ravicher, lead attorney for the 81 plaintiffs represented in the lawsuit, said, “While I have great respect for Judge [Naomi] Buchwald, her decision to deny farmers the right to seek legal protection from one of the world’s foremost patent bullies is gravely disappointing.” “Her belief,” added Mr. Ravicher, “that farmers are acting unreasonably when they stop growing certain crops to avoid being sued […]

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French Court Finds Monsanto Guilty of Pesticide Poisoning

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

(Beyond Pesticides, February 14, 2012) A French court has found U.S. chemical giant Monsanto Co. guilty of pesticide poisoning in the case of a French farmer who became ill after exposure to one of the company’s herbicides, according to Reuters. The case is significant in that it sets precedent for other cases alleging pesticide poisoning or negligence in reporting of potential effects on human health resulting from pesticides. The court has said it will seek an expert opinion regarding the farmer’s losses in order to determine the appropriate amount of damages he should be rewarded. The case stems from an incident in which the farmer, Paul Francois, inadvertently inhaled Monsanto’s Lasso pesticide when cleaning his sprayer tank on his farm in southern France in 2004. He then began experiencing memory loss, headaches, and stammering, among other neurological problems. This led to his decision to file suit against Monsanto, asserting that the company did not provide adequate warnings on the product label that would indicate these symptoms could result from exposure. The court agreed with Mr. Francois, stating that, “Monsanto is responsible for Paul Francois’s suffering after he inhaled the Lasso product … and must entirely compensate him,” according to Agence […]

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Oral Arguments Presented in Landmark Organic Lawsuit against Monsanto

Friday, February 10th, 2012

(Beyond Pesticides, February 10, 2012) Federal District Court Judge Nancy Buchwald heard oral arguments on January 31 on a pre-trial motion filed by Monsanto to dismiss a lawsuit filed against it by the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) on behalf of family farmers, seed businesses, organic agricultural organizations, and environmental groups. The case, Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association, et al. v. Monsanto, challenges Monsanto’s patents on genetically modified seed. The suit was originally filed on behalf of 60 plaintiffs on March 29, 2011, with 23 new plaintiffs, including Beyond Pesticides joining on June 1. The 83 plaintiffs now involved in the suit represent a combined membership in excess of 300,000 people. The plaintiffs in this case are suing preemptively to protect themselves from being accused of patent infringement should they ever become contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically engineered seed, something Monsanto has done to others in the past. “We were very pleased that the court granted our request to have oral argument regarding Monsanto’s motion to dismiss our case today,” said Daniel Ravicher, PUBPAT Executive Director and lead lawyer for the plaintiffs. “The judge graciously permitted both parties to raise all the points they wished in a session that lasted over […]

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GMO Development in Europe Takes a Hit, Focus on U.S. Markets To Intensify

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

(Beyond Pesticides, January 18, 2012) Given the persistent wariness of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Europe, Germany’s BASF will stop developing new products targeting the European market. The group announced on January 16 that it plans to refocus its activities in the sector on more receptive regions. Unfortunately, this means BASF will redouble its efforts in the U.S. to develop new GMO products, leading to public and environmental health concerns in this country. In a statement, a BASF representative announced, “Biotechnologies are not accepted enough in many parts of Europe by the majority of consumers, farmers and political leaders. That is why it does not make sense economically to continue to invest in products aimed exclusively at this market.” BASF promotion of its GMO products has been stalled in the last couple years. BASF fought for a decade before obtaining European Union (EU) marketing authorization in 2010 for Amflora, a genetically modified high-starch potato. Shortly afterwards BASF mistakenly planted in an Amflora field in Sweden another of its GMO potatoes, Amadea, which had not received authorization from European officials. According to the company, after this scandal, “European sentiment towards transgenic products declined further.” BASF plans to halt the planting and […]

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