New Bill Would Allow Farmers To Sue Monsanto If GMO Crops Invade Their Property
House Bill 2739 is being considered and Oregon farmers might have a way to win against the giant Monsanto!
The House Bill 2739 is under consideration. And if it goes through then it will allow farmers and landowners to prosecute biotech patent holders such as Monsanto for trespassing on their property.
The House Bill 2739 states that it “Allows cause of action against patent holder for genetically engineered organism present on land without permission of owner or lawful occupant.” Supporters of the bill believe it is great news and it will help solve problems caused by GMOs. Sandra Bishop from the Our Family Farms Coalition, which advocates HB 2739, talked to the East Oregonian website stating that “This is not a wild legal grab. We will not be compensated for our angst. We will only be compensated for provable legal damages.”
GMO contamination affects farmers economically because they run the risk of not being able to export to countries with GMO bans. GMO products can lead to resistant weeds and insects, which become almost impossible for farmers to exterminate and time-consuming to manage.
Also, farmers who own organic crops could lose their organic status and certification if their produce becomes contaminated, which diminishes the premium earned on their crops. More and more countries want to consume non-GMO food. This desire gives farmers an opportunity to meet that need and get paid more in the process. However, the challenge of preventing GMO contamination threatens their business and operations every day.
Monsanto bullied farmers for years when their GMO seeds ended up on the farmers’ land. While contamination can occur in many different ways, it most often happens when unauthorized GMO seeds show up in GMO-free crop fields. Typically, the companies that own the seed patents win these cases, leaving farmers with almost no options. This bill, if passed, will give power back to landowners who want to continue to have GMO-free crops.
Farmers that decide to sue these large corporations for damage caused by GMO seeds could win up to three times the amount of the damages caused by the GMOs under the guidelines of HB 2739. Defenders of the bill find this solution fair because it now forces Monsanto, and other GMO companies, to take responsibility as they are the ones who profit from GMO patents. If they think it will affect their bottom line, they may be more inclined to regulate the contamination. Advocates also note that finding the culprits will be relatively simple by using the genetic tests established when patents are approved.
Some people oppose the bill, including farmers that depend on GMO seeds. They claim that pollination among similar crops goes far beyond GMOs. Critics have also attempted to guilt-trip supporters, making allegations that the passing of this bill could result in seed companies refusing to offer new innovative products in Oregon. The policy director of the Oregonians for Food and Shelter agribusiness group, an east Oregonian, Scott Dahlman, declared that if companies face the threat of additional lawsuits, “they will reconsider whether they sell things here.”
Also, this bill is not the only one being analyzed in Oregon this year regarding GMO seed patent holders. House Bill 2469, if passed, would allow local governments to restrict their use altogether.
Bills such as House Bill 2739 give farmers a voice and a way to defend themselves against corporate bullies. When a farmer has their soil contaminated by GMOs, they could lose their certification which means they cannot sell to countries with GMO bans.
Corporations like Monsanto tried to monopolize the food chain. Moreover, they should remain accountable for their mess because they have no moral right to sue farmers when their seeds end up in other properties. This progression forces corporations to minimize the contamination of soils that they do not own.
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