Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Monsanto biopiracy charges

Monsanto to face biopiracy charges in India
By Lucas Laursen
Nature Biotechnology Volume: 30, Page: 11 (2012)DOI: doi:10.1038/nbt0112-11
January 09, 2012

An Indian government agency has agreed to sue the developers of genetically modified (GM) eggplant for violating India’s Biological Diversity Act of 2002. India’s National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) is alleging that the developers of India’s first GM food crop—Jalna-based Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company (Mahyco) partnered with St. Louis–based seed giant Monsanto and several local universities—used local varieties to develop the transgenic crop, but failed to gain the appropriate licenses for field trials. At the same time, activists in Europe are claiming that patents on conventionally bred plants, including a melon found in India, filed by biotech companies violate farmers’ rights to use naturally occurring breeds. Both these pending legal cases could set important precedents for biopiracy in India and Europe. In another development in early November, the Munich-based European Patent Office referred to its Enlarged Board of Appeals a case involving conventionally bred tomatoes, which will likely shape any future enforcement of the Monsanto-owned melon patent, says Christoph Then, spokesman for advocacy group No Patents on Seeds. “It is a signal that the European Patent Office has severe doubts about this kind of patent,” he says.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Alfalfa challenge rejected

Judge rejects challenge to biotech alfalfa
By Mateusz Perkowski
Capital Press
January 05, 2012

A federal judge has rejected allegations by biotech critics that USDA violated environmental laws by fully deregulating transgenic alfalfa.

U.S. District Judge Samuel Conti has refused to overturn the agency’s approval of the crop, which was genetically engineered to withstand glyphosate herbicides.

The biotech trait was developed by the Monsanto Co. and allows farmers to spray glyphosate directly over alfalfa, leaving the crop undamaged while killing weeds.

In his Dec. 5 ruling, Conti repeatedly said that arguments against the crop’s commercialization were unpersuasive and lacked merit.

The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, or APHIS, took a “hard look” at transgenic alfalfa’s potential effects, as required under federal environmental law, he said.

“None of the purported deficiencies raised by plaintiffs in this area, considered independently or holistically, provide sufficient grounds to set aside APHIS’s deregulation determination,” said Conti.

The Center for Food Safety, which opposed the crop’s deregulation, vowed to challenge the ruling in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

[Read More…]

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Monsanto lawsuit update

Monsanto lawsuit moves to pre-trial oral arguments
By Avery Yale Kamila
Kennebec Journal
January 04, 2012

A judge has ordered pre-trial oral arguments in a case pitting organic farmers against agribusiness giant Monsanto.

Headed by Maine potato farmer Jim Gerritsen, the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, with legal backing from the Public Patent Foundation, filed a lawsuit in March 2011 questioning the validity of Monsanto’s patents on genetically modified seeds and seeking protection from patent-infringement lawsuits for the plaintiffs should their crops become contaminated with Monsanto’s transgenic crops.

Monsanto is a leading producer of genetically modified seeds.

Federal Judge Naomi Buchwald, of the Southern District of New York, has scheduled oral arguments to be heard Jan. 31 in Manhattan on Monsanto’s motion to dismiss the case.

“We are grateful that Judge Buchwald has agreed to our request to hear oral argument on the motion,” Gerritsen said in a prepared statement. “Last August we submitted our written rebuttal and it made clear that Monsanto’s motion was without merit. Our legal team, from the Public Patent Foundation, is looking forward to orally presenting our position. The family farmers deserve their day in court. We are anxious that this case go to trial as soon as possible so that our innocent farmers may receive Court protection.”

Monsanto argues that the case is without merit.

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