Myth: Monsanto sues farmers when GM seed is accidentally in their fields.
Fact: Monsanto has never sued a farmer when trace amounts of our patented seeds or traits were present in the farmer’s field as an accident or as a result of inadvertent means.
It is truly as simple as this: Monsanto has a long-standing public commitment that “it has never been, nor will it be, Monsanto’s policy to exercise its patent rights where trace amounts of our patented seeds or traits are present in a farmer’s fields as a result of inadvertent means.”
The misperception that Monsanto would sue a farmer if GM seed was accidentally in his field likely began with Percy Schmeiser, who was brought to court in Canada by Monsanto for illegally saving Roundup Ready® canola seed. Mr. Schmeiser claims to this day the presence of Monsanto’s technology in his fields was accidental – even though three separate court decisions, including one by the Canadian Supreme court, concluded his claims were false.
In 2012-2013, two separate courts acknowledged that Monsanto has not taken any action – or even suggested taking any action – against organic growers because of cross-pollination.
The Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) and others filed a lawsuit against Monsanto in an effort to invalidate Monsanto’s patents because of alleged fears of Monsanto exercising its patent rights and suing farmers if crops were inadvertently cross-pollinated. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed the case and commented:
- There was no case or controversy in the matter because Monsanto had not taken any action or even suggested taking any action against any of the plaintiffs.
- Monsanto had a long-standing public commitment that “it has never been, nor will it be, Monsanto policy to exercise its patent rights where trace amounts of our patented seeds or traits are present in a farmer’s fields as a result of inadvertent means.”
- Plaintiffs’ allegations were “unsubstantiated … given that not one single plaintiff claims to have been so threatened.”
- Plaintiffs had “overstate[d] the magnitude of [Monsanto’s] patent enforcement,” noting that Monsanto’s average of roughly 13 lawsuits per year “is hardly significant when compared to the number of farms in the United States, approximately two million.”
For information on Monsanto’s use of patents to protect scientific innovation, please visit the Innovation and Patents section of our web site.