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Canada Organic Farmers Lawsuit
Against Monsanto Moves Forward

The Leader-Post (Regina, Saskatchewan)
June 28, 2002
Organic Farmers Say Report Backs Fears
by Michelle Lang


Saskatchewan organic farmers who are suing two biotechnology giants claim
they have new evidence that contamination from genetically modified (GM)
canola has wiped out their organic canola market.

The farmers have obtained an Agriculture Canada study that they say shows
widespread genetic contamination of certified canola seed, even with strict
crop isolation and inspection standards.

Their lawsuit against Monsanto and Aventis claims the companies' GM canola
has ruined the organic canola market because GM canola has contaminated
organic canola through natural cross-pollination. Terry Zakreski, the lawyer
representing the organic farmers, said the study represents a key piece of
evidence in the case against Monsanto and Aventis.

"It really drives home the point that organic farmers can't grow canola
without fear of contamination," he said.

"This shows they have been shut out of the industry."
But Gordon Kuski, lawyer for Monsanto, said the study is preliminary and he
regards it as "innocuous."

"The study is very tentative. It represents a very small sample, ...We're
well aware of it, and nothing in it causes us any concern," said Kuski.
The organic farmer say they had a great deal of trouble getting the study.
They say Agriculture Canada initially refused to release the study. When it
finally released the study, large portions were missing or concealed as
"private business information," the farmers say.

Zakreski said the study was only released in its entirety after he brought
an application to court.

The farmers want their lawsuit to proceed as a class action on behalf of
some 1,000 organic growers in the province. But their suit has not yet been
certified under the province's new class action legislation.

For now, organic farmers Larry Hoffman of Spalding and Dale Beaudoin of the
Maymont area are the plaintiffs in the suit.

The lawsuit claims GM canola is now grown so pervasively in Saskatchewan
that it has essentially destroyed the organic canola market for local
farmers.

It argues Monsanto and Aventis violated environmental laws by not conducting
environmental impact assessments before releasing the seeds.

It also alleges the two companies are negligent for failing to make sure GM
canola would not infiltrate neighbouring farms, and for failing to tell
farmers who bought the GM seeds how to limit the spread of their crops.
Monsanto and Aventis have not filed statements of defence.


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