Following dismissal on Monday of a federal class-action lawsuit brought by a group of farmers against Monsanto, protesters in Washington D.C. showed up on Wednesday at the biotech giant’s doorstep.
A photo posted on Twitter shows a protest sign that seems to be blocking a doorway, and the accompanying tweet says that the “blockade” at Monsanto’s Washington office was erected by Occupy D.C. Monsanto spokesman Tom Helscher confirmed that the demonstration took place at the office; Occupy organizers couldn’t immediately be reached.
The farmers’ consortium, the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, was seeking to have the company’s agricultural patents invalidated, saying they feared the appearance of Monsanto seeds in their fields, Farmers Weekly reports. Monsanto is the world’s biggest producer of genetically modified seed. U.S. District Judge Naomi Buchwald, however, said the farmers had no standing because they had not been harmed by the company, calling their suit “a transparent effort to create a controversy where none exists.”
Helscher said in a statement e-mailed to the Washington Post:
“We respect each individual’s right to express his or her point of view. Agriculture and its uses are important to all of us…We believe farmers should have the opportunity to select the production method of their choice – whether that be organic, conventional or the improved seeds developed using biotechnology. All three production systems contribute to meeting the needs of consumers. Since the advent of biotech crops 15 years ago, both biotech and organic crop production have flourished. We have no reason to think that will not continue to be the case.”
The dismissal of the class-action suit comes on the heels of a successful suit by French farmer Paul Francois, who took Monsanto to court for three neurological problems he says he suffered after inhaling a weedkiller made by the biotech giant. In February, a French court found Monsanto legally responsible for poisoning Francois and ordered the company to compensate him “entirely.” Monsanto plans to appeal the verdict.
On Tuesday, demonstrators in New York also took to the streets to protest Monsanto, demanding more government regulations on food and water, Press TV reports. The protest, dubbed “Occupy Our Food Supply,” also targeted other agricultural companies like Cargill, ADM, and Dupont.
Protests are stirring up online, too, where a two-year-old appointment of a former Monsanto vice president to the Food and Drug Administration has spurred an online petition calling for his removal. The petition now has more than 420,000 signatures.