NOTE: See also these from GM-free Ireland
Monsanto's onerous farmer contract: http://www.gmfreeireland.org/conference/trans/exhibits/A.php
Monsanto extortion letter sent to contaminated farmers: http://www.gmfreeireland.org/conference/trans/exhibits/D.php
Percy Schmeiser's warning to Irish farmers: http://www.gmfreeireland.org/conference/trans/P.Schmeiser.pdf.
ACGA Commends Senate Judiciary Action on Patent Reform Act of 2007
Bolin Calls for Swift Action to Complete S. 1145
WASHINGTON Oct. 12, 2007 Keith Bolin, President of the American Corn Growers Association (ACGA) has commended the actions of Senators Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Arlen Specter, R-Pa., as well as the Senate Judiciary Committee for recently completing action on the Patent Reform Act of 2007 (S. 1145).
'Currently farmers are vulnerable to attack from biotech interests that sue family farmers for allegedly infringing on their patent rights due to actions that are often beyond their control,' explained Bolin. 'ACGA urges quick passage of legislation that would help level the playing field for family farmers defending themselves against dubious claims of patent infringement.'
'Family farmers have been struggling for years against lawsuits that claim they have willfully infringed on the patents of genetically modified organisms (GMOs),' added Bolin. 'These allegations of infringement are often unwarranted since farmers in many cases are sued after their fields are contaminated by pollen that naturally drifts over from a neighboring field. It has been proven that pollen (including GMOs) can drift more than five miles, which is impossible for an individual farmer to block or control in any way. Accordingly, these farmers should not be accused of 'willfully' infringing on the patent of seeds that naturally cross-pollinated into their fields.'
Bolin continued by stating, 'Farmers should not be forced to travel hundreds of miles to another state to defend themselves against such allegations. To do so, often to defend themselves against unwarranted accusations, adds undue and often insurmountable financial stress on their modest family budgets. Currently the corporate plaintiffs in these cases often select courts in distant locations that favor them, which requires family farmers to travel to courts that are not only far away but also biased against them. The situation that farmers must endure today is clearly not the intent of the patent system and it should be corrected.'
The Patent Reform Act of 2007 (S. 1145) as passed out of Committee includes many critical reforms that would help protect farmers, such as assessing 'willful' treble damages only where there is egregious conduct and revising venue rules to prevent forum shopping. Such efforts to level the playing field in patent law will go a long way toward helping family farmers defend themselves.
'Let me make this perfectly clear. ACGA does not oppose new technology such as GMOs, but we must ensure both stakeholders such as farm families, and the stockholders of the corporate interest are treated fairly,' concluded Bolin. This is why ACGA supports legislation like the Patent Reform Act of 2007, which would help level the playing field for small farmers. This legislation will help protect farmers by raising the standards for assessing ‘willfulness’ and revising venue rules to prevent forum shopping.'
ACGA represents 14,000 members in 35 states. ACGA has standing bylaws that prohibit the organization from accepting funding from corporate agriculture. That means that ACGA represents farmers -- not seed, chemical, food processing, grain trading or crop insurance companies. For more information or if you would like to join ACGA or help support our efforts, please see www.acga.org .
Contact: Larry Mitchell (202) 835-0330