There’s a new proposed law that would classify biotech companies as “trespassers” whenever their GMO crops pollute neighboring organic farms.
The proposed Oregon law would turn the tables on biotech companies whose genetically modified crops tend to contaminate neighboring organic farms.
In the past, corporations like Monsanto used to sue organic farmers for “stealing” their patented seeds, when they would end up on their farms, even though the farmers never wanted their GMO crops in the first place and actually faced substantial financial losses from the invasion.
However, if House Bill 2739 passes, farmers would then occupy the plaintiff seat in court, rather than the defendant’s chair.
It would essentially treat biotech patent-holding companies like Monsanto as “trespassers on the organic farmers’ property and allow them to sue for up to three times the amount of damages they suffer from the crop contamination.
The law would “allow cause of action against patent holder for genetically engineered organism present on land without permission of owner or lawful occupant,” states the summary of the bill.
“This is not a wild legal grab,” Sandra Bishop of Our Family Farms Coalition told the East Oregonian.
“We will not be compensated for our angst. We will only be compensated for provable legal damages.”
Crop contamination from GMOs can completely ruin organic farmers’ livelihoods, according to the non-profit organization Farm Aid.
Not only do they face the threat of lawsuits from biotech companies, but they also run the risk of losing their USDA “organic” certification. They can also be rejected from specific export markets that ban GMOs. And their crops often fall prey to herbicide and pesticide-resistant weeds and insects usually found on GMO crops.