Tuesday, April 18, 2017


Monsanto Tribunal: The Outcomes

Today, judges delivered their legal opinion on the evidence and witness statements presented at the Monsanto Tribunal that was held in The Hague (NL) in October 2016.
The tribunal concluded that:
  • Monsanto has violated human rights to food, health, a healthy environment and the freedom indispensable for independent scientific research.
  • ‘ecocide’ should be recognized as a crime in international law.    
  • human rights and environmental laws are undermined by corporate-friendly trade and investment regulation.
During the hearings that took place in The Hague in October 2016, judges heard testimonies from witnesses from all over the world, who testified how Monsanto has violated human rights and has committed crimes against the planet by aggressively promoting its products, lobbying politicians and attacking independent scientists.
Based on these testimonies, and considering both existing international law and ongoing legal initiatives aiming to improve the protection of human rights and the environment, the judges concluded that Monsanto has indeed infringed on the public’s rights to food, health, a healthy environment and the freedom indispensable for independent scientific research.
The Tribunal is also of the opinion that “international law should now precisely and clearly assert the protection of the environment and the crime of ecocide”. If such a crime of ecocide would be recognized in international criminal law, “the activities of Monsanto could possibly constitute a crime of ecocide”, the judges stated.
In their final conclusion, the judges highlighted the current imbalance in the international system, which offers much better protection to corporations and their financial interests (through trade and investment law including ISDS courts) than it does to human rights and the environment. It is now crucial for the UN to act on this widening gap, they warned, as “otherwise key questions will be resolved by private tribunals operating entirely outside the UN framework”.
Corporate Europe Observatory's Nina Holland welcomed the Tribunal’s outcome:
The verdict of the Monsanto Tribunal has our fullest support. Its legal opinion makes it crystal clear that corporations like Monsanto violate our right to live in a healthy environment and how they get around the international laws meant to protect people and planet.
“With the current wave of mega-mergers in the agribusiness sector, the biggest pesticide producers are becoming even more powerful. But so is our call to regulate them!

Source:  https://corporateeurope.org/food-and-agriculture/2017/04/monsanto-tribunal-outcomes 

Sunday, April 16, 2017



Trouble in St. Louis?

Trouble Ahead sign
Is it any wonder Monsanto wants to hire a journalist to help improve its image (i.e. spread false facts)? The Biotech Bully is facing a raft of bad press—again. Here’s the latest.
1. OCA, Beyond Pesticides sue Monsanto. This week, we teamed up with Beyond Pesticides to sue St. Louis, Mo.-based Monsanto in Washington, D.C. for false and misleading labeling of the company’s flagship product, Roundup herbicide.
Here’s why. The label on Monsanto’s Roundup, sold in stores like Home Depot and Walmart and online by Amazon, clearly states that the herbicide targets an enzyme “found in plants but not in people or pets.”
Not true. Studies show that the enzyme targeted by glyphosate, the key active ingredient in Roundup, is found in people and pets. So when humans and pets ingest, absorb or inhale glyphosate, it negatively affects gut bacteria, which can ultimately lead to health problems.(See page 9 of the lawsuit for a more detailed explanation of the science).
2. Monsanto Tribunal press conference next week. On Tuesday, April 18, the five Monsanto Tribunal judges will announce their opinions, after having spent the past six months reviewing written testimony, and the oral testimony they heard during the two-day citizens’ tribunal held in October.
Will the judges decide that Monsanto has violated the right to food, health, a healthy environment and scientific freedom? Will they conclude that these violations represent a new crime—ecocide?
OCA will report on the judges’ opinions live from The Hague, Netherlands. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and twitter for live updates and interviews with the judges. You can also livestream the press conference, which will start at 6 a.m. PST9 a.m. EST (3 p.m. in the Netherlands).
3. Call for Congressional investigation heats up. Last week we reported on how a visit to a town hall meeting led to a letter by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, to Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chair of the same committee, asking for an investigation into possible collusion between Monsanto and the EPA.
This week we urged all Oregonians to attend Walden’s town hall meetings, being held this week in six Oregon cities, to push him on Pallone’s request.
Pallone gave Walden until April 14 to respond “yes” or “no” to the investigation—so let’s keep up the pressure!
(Everyone) Call Rep. Greg Walden:
(202) 225-6730 Tweet him @RepGregWalden
Is your Congress Member on the Energy and Commerce Committee? Find out, then call and tweet!

Saturday, April 8, 2017


MDL Monsanto Glyphosate Cancer Case Key Documents & Analysis

More than 50 lawsuits against Monsanto Co. are pending in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, filed by people alleging that exposure to Roundup herbicide caused them or their loved ones to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and that Monsanto covered up the risks. The lead case is 3:16-md-02741-VC.
On March 13th, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria ruled — over Monsanto’s objections — that documents obtained by plaintiffs through discovery could be unsealed. The following is a list of documents that have been unsealed to date, and other noteworthy filings. 
Court documents:
— Plaintiffs’ amended notice to take videotaped deposition of Jesudoss Rowland (3 page) (4.6.17)
— Plaintiffs: administrative motion to file under seal (25 pages) (4.6.17), see especially pp. 6-10
— Monsanto: discovery dispute (10 pages) (4.4.17)
— Monsanto Company’s answer to plaintiff’s complaint (31 pages) (3.24.17)
— Plaintiffs’ notice to take videotaped deposition of Jesudoss Rowland (4 pages) (3.23.17)
— Plaintiffs’ case management statement (28 pages), new documents unsealed (355 pages), key documents on p. 136pp. 220-1 (3.16.15)
— Jess Rowland documents unsealed (115 pages), key documents on pp. 99-102. (3.14.17)
— Documents unsealed (227 pages), key documents on pp. 203-4. (3.14.17)
— Plaintiffs submission in response to pretrial order no. 8 (3.14.17)
— Judge Vince Chhabria’s ruling to unseal documents (3.13.17)
— Plaintiffs’ reply in support of motion to compel deposition of Jess Rowland (2.27.17). Key document: Marion Copley letter on p. 11 (2.27.17)
— Pretrial order no. 8: order requesting briefing re relevance of EPA and IARC (1.25.17)
— Summary of ORD comments on OPP’s glyphosate cancer assessment (12.14.15)
Reporting, analysis and other related documents:
— E&C Dems Urge Walden to Investigate EPA’s Permitting of Toxic Chemicals (4.3.17)
— Inside the Academic Journal That Corporations Love, by Paul Thacker (Pacific Standard) (3.28.17)
— Split Within EPA on Glyphosate Carcinogenicity, by Jennifer Sass (NRDC) (3.28.17)
— Monsanto Knowingly Sold Human Carcinogen to Consumers (The Young Turks) (3.27.17)
— Letter on glyphosate from Members of the European Parliament to European Commission President Jean-Claude Junker (3.24.17)
— “Monsanto Papers”: des eurodéputés veulent la révision de l’expertise du glyphosate, by Stéphane Foucart (Le Monde) (3.24.17)
— Roundup Lawsuits Raise Doubts About EPA’s Integrity, by Matthew Renda (Courthouse News) (3.20.17)
— Ce que les “Monsanto Papers” rélèvent du Roundup, by Stéphane Foucart (Le Monde) (3.18.17)
— Monsanto Weed Killer Deserves Deeper Scrutiny As Scientific Manipulation Revealed, by Carey Gillam (Huffington Post/USRTK) (3.17.17)
— Les experts européens blanchissent le glyphosate, by Stéphane Foucart (Le Monde) (3.16.17)
— Unsealed Documents Raise Questions on Monsanto Weed Killer, by Danny Hakim (New York Times) (3.15.17)
— Glyphosate: discorde à l’agence de protection de l’environnement américaine, by Stéphane Foucart (Le Monde) (3.14.17)
— EPA Official Accused of Helping Monsanto “Kill” Cancer Study, by Joel Rosenblatt, Lydia Mulvany and Peter Waldman (Bloomberg) (3.14.17)
— Monsanto Accused of Ghostwriting Papers on Roundup Cancer Risk, by Joel Rosenblatt (Bloomberg) (3.14.17)
— Plaintiffs in U.S. Lawsuit Say Monsanto Ghostwrote Roundup Studies, by Brendan Pierson (Reuters) (3.14.17)
— Monsanto did not ghostwrite the Williams et al. (2000) glyphosate paper (Monsanto blog) (3.14.17)
— Judge Threatens to Sanction Monsanto for Secrecy in Roundup Cancer Litigation, by Carey Gillam (Huffington Post/USRTK)) (3.10.17)
— Monsanto Cancer Suits Turn to EPA Deputy’s “Suspicious” Role, by Joel Rosenblatt (Bloomberg) (2.27.17)
— Questions Raised About EPA-Monsanto Collusion Raised in Cancer Lawsuits, by Carey Gillam (Huffington Post/USRTK) (2.13.17)
— Monsanto, EPA Seek to Keep Talks About Glyphosate Cancer Review a Secret, by Carey Gillam (Huffington Post/USRTK) (1.18.17)

Thursday, March 30, 2017


(Proposition 65)

April 7, 2017
(Posted March 28, 2017) 

The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has determined that glyphosate (CAS No. 1071-83-6) will be added to the list of chemicals known to the state to cause cancer for purposes of Proposition 651. The effective date of this listing will be determined following a decision from the Court of Appeal regarding a request for a stay in the pending case Monsanto v OEHHA.2 A separate Notice will be published, along with an updated Proposition 65 list, when the chemical is added to the list.

1 The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, Health and Safety Code, section 25249.5, et seq.
2 Monsanto et al v OEHHA et al., Fresno County Superior Court case #16CECG00183, recently appealed to the California Court of Appeal (5th District). A case number has not yet been assigned.
3 International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC, 2006). Preamble. IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans. World Health Organization, Lyon, France
Health and Safety Code section 25249.8(a) incorporates California Labor Code section 6382(b)(1) into Proposition 65. Regulations describing the process for listing chemicals via the Labor Code are set out in Title 27, Cal. Code of Regs., section 25904. The law requires that certain substances identified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) be listed as known to cause cancer under Proposition 65. Labor Code section 6382(b)(1) refers to substances identified as human or animal carcinogens by IARC. An explanation of the carcinogenicity classifications used by IARC and the processes used by IARC to develop these classifications may be found in the IARC Preamble3, which is also available at the following URL: http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Preamble/CurrentPreamble.pdf.

The basis for the listing of glyphosate was described in a public notice published in the September 4, 2015, issue of the California Regulatory Notice Register (Register 2015, -2- No. 36-Z). The title of the notice was “Notice of Intent to List Chemicals by the Labor Code Mechanism: Tetrachlorvinphos, Parathion, Malathion, and Glyphosate.” The publication of the notice initiated a public comment period. OEHHA previously reviewed and responded to comments on the listing of tetrachlorvinphos, parathion and malathion.

A public notice of the listings of these compounds was published in the May 20, 2016 issue of the California Regulatory Notice Register (Register 2016, No. 21-Z); and responses to the comments received were posted on OEHHA’s website on May 20, 2016

4 https://oehha.ca.gov/proposition-65/response-comments/oehhas-response-comments-tetrachlorvinphos-parathion-and-malathion

5 Health and Safety Code section 25249.10, Title 27, Cal. Code of Regs., section 25701 et seq.
OEHHA received 9,183 comments relevant to glyphosate and OEHHA’s responses are posted with the Notice of Intent to List and are available on OEHHA’s website.
OEHHA is concurrently proposing a safe harbor level (No Significant Risk Level or NSRL) for glyphosate.5 The NSRL should be finalized prior to the effective date of the warning requirement for exposures to glyphosate.

In summary, glyphosate will be listed under Proposition 65 as known to the State to cause cancer, as follows: Chemical
Listing Mechanism*

Friday, March 24, 2017


Congress Must Investigate Collusion Between Monsanto and the EPA, Now

Two businessmen in black suits shaking hands

March 23, 2017 Organic Consumers Association by Katherine Paul

“I have cancer, and I don’t want these serious issues in HED [EPA’s Health Effects Division] to go unaddressed before I go to my grave. I have done my duty.”

It’s been four years since Marion Copley, a 30-year EPA toxicologist, wrote those words to her then-colleague, Jess Rowland, accusing him of conniving with Monsanto to bury the agency’s own hard scientific evidence that it is “essentially certain” that glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller, causes cancer.

Copley has since died. But her letter suggesting that EPA officials colluded with Monsanto to hide the truth about Monsanto’s flagship weedkiller has been given new life.

Thanks to the persistence of hundreds of plaintiffs in lawsuits alleging that they (or their deceased family members) were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma after being exposed to Roundup, newly discovered internal emails and other documents are being made public. And they paint an increasingly troubling and sinister picture of corruption.

The Organic Consumers Association is calling on Congress to immediately and fully investigate these and any other revelations that may come to light.

A long history of deceit

For decades, Monsanto has enjoyed a revolving-door relationship with government agencies like the EPA and USDA, giving the chemical company unprecedented power to influence and manipulate the regulatory process.

Meanwhile, the biotech behemoth has attacked scientists’ claims that its flagship product, Roundup, causes harm to both humans and the environment, by discrediting scientists who raise concerns, coercing others into producing industry-friendly research, and manipulating corporate media into spinning a favorable narrative.

And while on the one hand clinging steadfastly to its claim that Roundup is “safe,” Monsanto strong-armed the junk food industry into joining forces against consumers who said fine, if your Roundup-sprayed GMO foods are safe, you should have no problem labeling them.

But just as the truth about DDT and Agent Orange came too late for many of its victims, so it appears to be the case for hundreds, or more likely tens of thousands of people—all over the world—who have been affected by Monsanto’s Roundup.

Here in the U.S., victims are fighting back through a wave of new lawsuits—more than 700, filed in St. Louis, Mo. (Monsanto headquarters) and Alameda, Calif.

As reported in EcoWatch, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., co-counsel in some of the lawsuits, told St. Louis Public Radio:

"We're bringing the lawsuit to address the injuries that have been caused by Roundup and glyphosate to mainly farmers and farm workers, but we think that consumers and home gardeners have also been affected."

Monsanto is sticking to its story, that “when used according to directions,” Roundup is safe. Farmers who spray it, consumers who use it in their yards needn’t worry, the Biotech Giant says. But as lawyers and reporters sift through and pore over thousands of pages of court documents, Monsanto’s claims of safety ring more and more hollow.

As reported in Alternet:

One of the documents unsealed by Judge Vince Chhabria was an email written by William F. Heydens, a Monsanto executive, giving his colleagues the green light to ghostwrite glyphosate research and then hire academics to put their names on the papers. He even cited an instance where the company had used this method in the past. "We would be keeping the cost down by us doing the writing and they would just edit & sign their names so to speak," wrote Heydens.

On March 21, officials at the New York Medical College (NYMC) in Valhalla, N.Y., told the American Association for the Advancement of Science they will investigate one of their faculty members, who according to the court documents, put his name on a paper partially ghostwritten by Monsanto employees.

Good to know that at least one institution is willing to uphold the integrity of science.

Tip of the sinking iceberg?

In the coming weeks and months, reporters and lawyers will continue to sift through and analyze the mountain of new documents that include emails between Monsanto and EPA officials.

What we’ve seen so far may be just the tip of the iceberg. But after all the evidence has been analyzed and exposed, will it be enough to bring down Monsanto?

Probably not—unless the public pushes back as never before. And unless Congress does its job.

Meanwhile, people like Yolanda Mendoza, who trusted Monsanto’s word that Roundup is safe, deal with the consequences of that trust. Mendoza, diagnosed with Stage IV non-Hodgkin lymphoma, told a Houston, Texas-based TV station:

“I have nerve damage, I don't feel the tips of my fingers,” said Yolanda Mendoza. “My jaw, its still, I still can't feel it.”

In 2015, 17 scientists with the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research (IARC) on Cancer unanimously concluded in 2015 (and since reaffirmed) that Roundup is a "probable carcinogen" to humans—and that people exposed to Roundup are most likely to get non-Hodgkin lymphoma and other hematopoietic cancers.

Last month, A report by the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council, stated unequivocally that the storyline perpetuated by companies like Monsanto—the one that says we need pesticides like Roundup to feed the world—is a myth. And a catastrophic one at that.

Since the EPA was established on December 2, 1970, to work for “a cleaner, healthier environment for the American people,” it has failed repeatedly to put public health above corporate profits, as documented in “Poison Spring: The Secret History of Pollution and the EPA,” written by a 25-year veteran of the agency.

Roundup is the most widely used herbicide in the world. If anyone inside the EPA has colluded with Monsanto to bury evidence that this product—labeled “safe” and widely available today in stores like Home Depot, Walmart, TrueValue Hardware—causes cancer, Congress should investigate that collusion now.

Please ask your Congress members to investigate the truth about Monsanto and the EPA.

Katherine Paul is associate director of the Organic Consumers Association.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


Monsanto undercover funding has led the attack on organic foods

In April of 2014, Academics Review released its organic marketing report – and proceeded to blast the organic foods industry. The report, which received extensive coverage by the mainstream media, accused the industry of creating false and misleading perceptions and indulging in intentionally deceptive marketing. (Wait, until you see what Monsanto is doing – keep reading)
The report was billed as “the findings of independent researchers,” while the Academics Review itself is described as “an association of academic professors, researchers, teachers and credentialed authors from around the world who are committed to the unsurpassed value of the peer review in establishing sound science.”
It all sounds pretty lofty, right? Until you consider that one of the groups helping Academics Review to obtain corporate funding was none other than the most hated corporation in the world, the multinational biotech company – Monsanto. (Of course, they really don’t want you to know that)

Monsanto-related emails reveal a shocking truth about “independent research”

In emails obtained by US Right to Know, a non-profit organization working for transparency in the nation’s food system, it is abundantly clear that executives for Monsanto engaged in fundraising for Academics Review.
The emails, which were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, reveal communications between Academics Review co-founder Bruce Chassy ,Ph.D. – a professor emeritus at University of Illinois – and assorted PR operatives, Monsanto employees, and bigwigs in the biotech industry.
As Carey Gillam, researcher director of US Right to Know, asserts: “Industry players cloaked pro-GMO messaging within a veil of independent expertise.”

Self-described “independent expert” blatantly looking for cash

A March 11, 2010 email exchange between Chassy and Jay Byrne, a former head of communications at Monsanto who now helms his own PR firm, puts fundraising front and center.
“Well, I suggest we work on the money (for all of us) first and quickly!” Byrne writes.
Eric Sachs, a senior public relations officer for Monsanto, was also in communication with Chassy, and even offered his help in getting trade groups on board.
“I can help motivate CLI (Crop Life International) /BIO (Biotechnology Innovation Organization) /Council for Biotechnology Information to support….”
Later in the email, Sachs brainstorms, “The problem is one of expert engagement, and that could be solved by paying experts to provide responses.” And – probably the most revealing sentence – “The key will be keeping Monsanto in the background so as not to harm the credibility of the information.”

Truth exposed: Professor Chassy is on the Monsanto payroll

According to an investigation by Chicago TV station WBEZ News, Professor Chassy was paid more than $57,000 over 23 months to “take his show on the road” – traveling, writing and speaking about GMOs.
In fact, Professor Chassy has collaborated on several projects with Monsanto to allay public concerns about GMOs – while masquerading as an independent academic. According to WEBZ News, Monsanto eventually funneled at least $5.1 million in undisclosed money through the University of Illinois Foundation to university employees and programs between 2005 and 2015. As per requests by Chassy and the university, Monsanto deposited the payments through the University of Illinois Foundation, which is protected from public scrutiny.
Although Chassy was given the opportunity to disclose his financial ties to Monsanto on state and university forms aimed at detecting potential conflicts of interest, he did not.
Incidentally, Professor Chassy is featured as an “independent expert” on the GMO Answers website. The website, funded by a half-dozen agrichemical companies, generally trumpets the merits of GMO foods. Academics Review co-founder David Tribe, Ph.D. – a lecturer at University of Melbourne – also appears on GMO Answers.

Report cited in articles demonizing the organic food industry

Articles in trade publications, including Food Navigator and Food Safety News and Hoard’s Dairyman, utilized splashy headlines to accuse the organic food industry of disinformation, deception, and scare tactics.
In a quasi-humorous article for the New York Post, Naomi Schaffer Riley decried the “tyranny of the organic mommy mafia,” and demeaned the parents who choose organic food for their children as snobbish, arrogant, overly controlling and engaging in “an outgrowth of helicopter parenting.”
Henry I. Miller, a Hoover Institute fellow and vocal supporter of corporate interests, used the AR report as source material to attack organic farming in such high-profile publications as Newsweek, the National Review and the Wall Street Journal.
As for Professor Chassy, he describes the publishing of his emails under the FOIA as an assault on his 40 years of science, research and teaching. He defends the financial support as “appropriate, commonplace and needed to further the public interest,” and insists that Academics Review “only accepts unrestricted donations from non-corporate sources, and does not solicit or accept funds from any source for specific research.”
Unfortunately, the emails tell a different story.

Sunday, March 19, 2017


Bill would authorize GMO trespass lawsuits against patent holders

A bill under consideration in Oregon would allow landowners to sue biotech patent holders over trespass by genetically engineered crops.
Mateusz Perkowski
Capital Press
Published on March 17, 2017 8:06AM
Last changed on March 17, 2017 10:24AM
Sean Ellis/Capital Press
Malheur County farmer Jerry Erstrom points out a genetically engineered creeping bentgrass plant June 14, 2016, on an irrigation ditch bank near Ontario, Ore. Erstrom testified March 16 in favor of proposed legislation in Oregon that would allow farmers whose crops are damaged by GMOs to sue patent holders for damages.
Sean Ellis/Capital Press Malheur County farmer Jerry Erstrom points out a genetically engineered creeping bentgrass plant June 14, 2016, on an irrigation ditch bank near Ontario, Ore. Erstrom testified March 16 in favor of proposed legislation in Oregon that would allow farmers whose crops are damaged by GMOs to sue patent holders for damages.
Buy this photo

SALEM — New lawsuits over trespass by genetically engineered crops would be authorized in Oregon under proposed legislation that would hold biotech patent holders liable for damages.
Supporters of House Bill 2739 say it’s a common sense strategy to remedy problems caused by genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, similar to consumer lawsuits over defective products.
“This is not a wild legal grab. We will not be compensated for our angst. We will only be compensated for provable legal damages,” said Sandra Bishop of the Our Family Farms Coalition, which supports HB 2739.
Jerry Erstrom, a Malheur County farmer, said he supports the bill even though he’s planted genetically engineered corn on his property.
“If you do something that messes up my livelihood, you should be held accountable for it,” Erstrom said at a March 16 hearing of the House Judiciary Committee.
Creeping bentgrass that’s genetically engineered to tolerate glyphosate herbicides escaped control in Eastern Oregon, and the crop’s patent holder should be responsible for control costs as it spreads, he said.
“It’s coming to the Willamette Valley. Say what you want, it’s going to be here,” Erstrom said.
Proponents of HB 2739 say there’s nothing new about holding companies liable for their products hurting people or property, but organic and conventional farmers must currently bear the financial burden from GMO crop contamination alone.
“We’re not coming to you from a level playing field. Harm is only coming one way,” said Amy van Saun, legal fellow with the Center for Food Safety, which supports the bill.
Supporters say the legal mechanism of HB 2739 is simple and fair because the liability rests with companies that profit from GMO patents.
Complicated searches for a culprit won’t be necessary, since biotech traits can be determined with genetic tests, said Elise Higley, director of the Our Family Farms Coalition.
“It’s super easy to track it back to who is responsible,” Higley said.
Opponents of the bill argue that pollination among related crops isn’t limited to GMOs, but neighboring farmers have long found practical ways to avoid unwanted crosses.
“It’s one of the greatest risks I face, but it’s a manageable risk,” said Kevin Richards, who grows seeds and other crops near Madras, Ore.
Under a provision in HB 2739, plaintiffs are entitled to triple the amount of economic damages caused by the unwanted presence of GMOs, which is clearly meant to be punitive, according to the bill’s detractors.
“It would single out and stigmatize biotech patents,” said Barry Bushue, president of the Oregon Farm Bureau.
Critics also questioned the logic of making patent holders liable for unauthorized GMOs, since the problem may be caused by irresponsible practices of neighboring landowners or factors beyond human control, like birds.
“They sell the seed but they have no control once that happens,” said Roger Beyer, a lobbyist for the Oregon Seed Council and other crop groups.
Apart from the immediate impacts of the bill, imposing new liability on patent holders may discourage seed companies from offering innovative products in Oregon, said Scott Dahlman, policy director of the Oregonians for Food and Shelter agribusiness group.
If companies face the threat of additional lawsuits, “they will reconsider whether they sell things here,” Dahlman said.
Pete Postlewait, a farmer near Canby, Ore., said he’s disturbed by the precedent of punishing patent holders for the actions of end users, since that logic could be extended to non-GMO cross-pollination.
“By weakening plant patent laws in this way, it will surely stifle innovation in plant breeding,” he said.
The bill’s language also encompasses new methods, such as gene editing, that are used by university breeders who often hold their own patents, said Steve Strauss, a professor who studies biotechnology at Oregon State University.
“Wheat breeders and others would love to use this gene editing technology,” he said.