corn stalksI heard Dan Ravicher speak on a panel at the last Farm & Food Leadership Conference in Austin, TX. He is the lead attorney in the organic farmers’ lawsuit against Monsanto that was just dismissed by New York federal judge, Naomi Buchwald.  He is the Executive Director of the Public Patent Foundation, PUBPAT, and a Lecturer in Law at Cardozo Law School.   He’s been called a ‘Robin Hood’ of patent law by Science magazine.  I learned a lot about patent law and the difficulties of challenging a huge biotech company like Monsanto. I was impressed by his dedication to helping organic farmers find relief from the company’s oppressive tactics.  Although I’m disappointed that the New York judge has dismissed the lawsuit, the plaintiff’s are considering an appeal.

The group (83 in all) of farmers and other supporters had filed the lawsuit in hopes of stopping Monsanto from suing farmers whose crops had accidentally been contaminated with genetically engineered patented seeds.  Since more than 80% of all soybeans, corn, cotton, sugar beets, and canola in the U.S. are grown from Monsanto-patented genetically engineered seeds, it is becoming more difficult for organic farmers to avoid contamination and keep their organic certification.  The farmers had also wanted a reexamination of Monsanto’s patents; however, the judge did not address the legality of the patents.

Dan Ravicher said that he believes the judge made an error. “Her failure to address the purpose of the Declaratory Judgment Act and her characterization of binding Supreme Court precedent that supports the farmers’ standing as ‘wholly inapposite’ constitute legal error. In sum, her opinion is flawed on both the facts and the law.”  I’m hoping that all of the members of the group suing Monsanto will appeal the decision and will be looking for it.

Sources:

Organic farmers’ case against Monsanto thrown out by judge
Judge Dismisses Organic Farmers’ Case Against Monsanto
Organic Farmers Succeed Despite Federal Court Defeat
A ‘Robin Hood’ Declares War on Lucrative U.S. Patents
Profile of Dan Ravicher
Public Patent Foundation