Earlier this week the Public Patent Foundation filed a law suit against biotech giant Monsanto on behalf of more than 270,000 plaintiffs – including thousands of certified organic family farmers, seed-saving organizations and farmer advocacy groups. The aim of this preemptive law suit is to prevent Monsanto from suing organic farmers and seed growers if their organic crops and seeds are ever contaminated by Monsanto’s GM crops. Sounds an unlikely scenario? Well, when it comes to GM contamination I’m afraid that the “Polluter Pays Principle” flies out of the window. Monsanto has already taken aggressive legal action against hundreds of farmers across the U.S. (and beyond) for alleged patent infringements, in which the farmers are sued for allegedly obtaining GM seed illegally and planting it without paying Monsanto for the privilege. Intellectual property rights law means that Monsanto owns the genes it has inserted into its GM crops. So if Monsanto’s GM police (oh yes, they really do exist) subsequently find those genes in plants on a farmer’s field – and he or she has not legally purchased GM seed – then Monsanto can sue.
In a recent post we discussed the ruling currently under construction at the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) which would allow certain state-inspected slaughter plants to perform federal inspections on meat and poultry. The comment period has been extended, and we invite anyone who has an interest in this to add your two cents to the discussion (instructions below). This ruling could have tremendous implications for livestock farmers using independent, state-inspected plants who are now limited to selling product within state lines, and could dramatically expand their marketing capabilities. Cooperative inspection has the potential not only to benefit independent farmers and slaughter plants, but could have positive animal welfare implications through reduced transport time.
From the FSIS website:
FSIS is extending the comment period for an additional 30 days for its proposed rule to allow interstate shipment of meat and poultry products produced in selected state-inspected establishments. The proposed rule, Cooperative Inspection Programs; Interstate Shipment of Meat and Poultry Products, was published in the Federal Register on Sept. 16. FSIS is now allowing interested parties until Dec. 16 to prepare and submit comments for the proposed rule.
All submissions received must reference docket number FSIS-2008-0039. The proposed rule is posted on the FSIS Web site at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/regulations_&_policies/2009_Proposed_Rules_Index/index.asp. [See “Cooperative Inspection Programs.”]
Comments may also be sent to the Docket Clerk, USDA, FSIS, Room 2-2127, George Washington Carver Center, 5601 Sunnyside Ave., Beltsville, MD 20705. Submissions can also be made through the Federal e-rulemaking portal at www.regulations.gov.
The transcript and audio file for the Nov. 5 interstate shipment teleconference have been posted on the FSIS Web site at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/News_&_Events/past_events/index.asp.