Top | Sift

Monsanto in court

(article, Culinate staff)

If you follow Monsanto and its many lawsuits, you'll know that the company generally appears in court with farmers for two reasons: as a plaintiff against farmers the company thinks are infringing on its patents, or as a defendant against farmers who want to keep Monsanto's seeds out of their fields.

In either situation, Monsanto — which has a webpage devoted to the topic — typically wins. In May, for example, the Supreme Court found that Monsanto's patents had indeed been infringed upon, by a farmer who bought soybeans that he knew were likely to have Monsanto genes in them but didn't come directly from Monsanto. 

A year before the Supreme Court ruling, a federal district court threw out a lawsuit brought against Monsanto by the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association. The farmers were trying to protect themselves both from contamination by Monsanto's patented seeds and from being sued by Monsanto for accidentally growing said seeds.

Now, in the wake of the revelation that Monsanto's genetically modified wheat — never approved for market — has turned up in an Oregon field, farmers are filing new lawsuits against Monsanto. As Reuters reported, the wheat farmers are "accusing the company of failing to protect the U.S. wheat market from contamination by its unauthorized wheat."

But put those domestic legal troubles aside. On the global stage, Monsanto is doing just fine, thank you. On Mother Jones, Tom Philpott recently recounted the company's successes marketing GMO seed overseas. This year's prestigious World Food Prize went, in part, to Robert T. Fraley, Monsanto's executive vice president. And Europe's traditionally hostile attitude toward genetically modified foods may be softening.