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Organic Farmers Lawsuit Against Monsanto Moves Forward

The Leader-Post (Regina, Saskatchewan)

December 21, 2002

Organic farmers seeking class action

Saskatchewan News Network; Saskatoon StarPhoenix

BY Murray Lyons

SASKATOON --A stack of documents "four to five inches thick" was filed this week in Court of Queen's Bench in Saskatoon as organic farmers seek to get their lawsuit against two multinational chemical companies certified as one of Saskatchewan's first class-action suits. Lawyer Terry Zakreski filed the application and a supporting sheaf of more than 1,000 pages of affidavits on behalf of Dale Beaudoin and Larry Hoffman, the two representative plaintiffs, in the case against Monsanto Canada and Aventis Crop Science.

These two companies introduced herbicide-resistant varieties of canola to the Prairies. Aventis and its product line are now owned by Bayer Crop Science. Zakreski also filed a notice of motion calling for an injunction against Monsanto from introducing Roundup Ready wheat that the company has developed and has been putting through field trials at undisclosed locations throughout the Prairie provinces. Marc Loiselle, research and communications director for the Organic Agriculture Protection Fund (OAPF), says getting an injunction against introduction of Roundup Ready wheat is as important to the organic farmers as the damages cited over organic canola. "If we have to sit around and decide on the canola issue before advancing to the wheat issue, (Roundup Ready wheat) will be out there and there will be no turning back," he said. Monsanto is the first company to try to get a genetically modified (GM) wheat variety licensed in Canada.

The injunction states that "unconfined and commercial-scale release of Roundup Ready wheat will irreparably harm the organic grain farming industry in Saskatchewan." The action claims organic farmers in Saskatchewan have already lost $14 million from GM canola as most farmers now are unable to grow organic canola because of cross contamination from the genetically engineered varieties which have virtually taken over the market. The farmers estimate a premium of $170 million would be lost over the next decade if introduction of Roundup Ready wheat kills the organic wheat industry.

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