Canadian Organic Farmers to Sue Monsanto and Aventis

24 January 2002

Canadian Organic Farmers to Sue Monsanto and Aventis
Two Canadian organic farmers have a filed a lawsuit against Monsanto and Aventis in a court in Canada's prairie province of Saskatchewan. They are seeking damages from the two life science corporations, both of which sell genetically-modified canola seeds. Canada is the world's largest exporter of this crop, and much of it is grown in Saskatchewan, which lies in the centre of the country's main agricultural region. The farmers, who are representing the province's thousand organic farmers, are suing on the basis of loss of income. Because so many farmers use GM canola seed -- 60 percent of the canola grown in the province is genetically modified -- the organic farmers cannot guarantee their produce is 100 percent GM-free, as is required by organic certifiers. This means they are unable to grow canola at all, and on this basis they are claiming that their livelihoods are threatened. They are also hoping their lawsuit will prevent the introduction of transgenic wheat. Monsanto is currently conducting field trials of wheat that is genetically-engineered to resist the company's Roundup Ready herbicide.

This case is likely to attract great interest since in March 2001, an elderly Saskatchewan farmer, Percy Schmeiser, was successfully sued by Monsanto for patent infringement. The company claimed that Schmeiser had illegally planted and sold harvested seed containing the gene and cells covered by Monsanto's patent on Roundup Ready canola.
"Canadian organic farmers sue Monsanto on GM crops," REUTERS, 11 January 2002; "Monsanto Canada Inc. and Monsanto Company vs. Percy Schmeiser and Schmeiser Enterprises Ltd.".

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