A lawsuit brought against Monsanto by the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association and dozens of other plaintiff growers and organizations has been dismissed. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York took Monsanto at its word. That word being Monsanto's long-standing public commitment that "it has never been, nor will it be, Monsanto policy to exercise its patent rights where trace amounts of our patented seeds or traits are present in a farmer's fields as a result of inadvertent means."
The plaintiffs feared a patent-infringement lawsuit in the event Monsanto’s traits happened to enter their fields inadvertently through, for example, cross-pollination. However, the court rejected the lawsuit finding that the plaintiffs had engaged in a "transparent effort to create a controversy where none exists." The Court also held that there was no "case or controversy" on the matter as Monsanto had not taken any action or even suggested to take any action against any of the plaintiffs.
"This decision is a win for all farmers as it underscores that agricultural practices such as ag biotechnology, organic and conventional systems do and will continue to effectively coexist in the agricultural marketplace," said David F. Snively, Monsanto's Executive Vice President, Secretary, and General Counsel.
Monsanto has filed 144 patent infringement lawsuits against farmers between 1997 and April 2010, and won judgments against farmers they claimed made use of their seed without paying required royalties
Many U.S. farmers have claimed that their fields were inadvertently contaminated with Monsanto's biotech seeds without their knowledge, and the issue has been a topic of concern for not only farmers, but also companies that clean and handle seed.
But 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 seed products.