A lawsuit filed by farmers from across the country against Monsanto seems to be heading for court once more.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., will hear oral arguments in the case on January 10 and is expected to rule within three months of the hearing.
The case challenges the legal basis for patents of Monsanto's genetically modified seeds and seeks blanket protection from patent-infringement lawsuits for farmers, should their crops be contaminated through unwanted pollination by Monsanto's genetically altered plants. The plaintiffs include Maine farmers.
In February, U.S. District Judge Naomi Buchwald of the Southern District of New York dismissed the case brought by the national nonprofit Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, which is based in Washington, Maine, and whose board president is a Maine potato-seed farmer, Jim Gerritsen of Wood Prairie Farm in Bridgewater.
The trade association seeks to have the judgment reversed and the case sent back to federal district court. Monsanto will argue that Buchwald's decision should stand.
In dismissing the case, Buchwald acknowledged that some of the plaintiffs had stopped growing certain crops for fear of being sued, but ruled that the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring the lawsuit.
The plaintiffs claim that Buchwald ignored Supreme Court precedent relating to intellectual property law and patent infringement litigation.
Monsanto has maintained throughout the case that it doesn't sue farmers whose crops are inadvertently contaminated by its genetically modified seeds.