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GE canola class action suit moves forward in Canada

Court to hear GE canola class action suit arguments

Pesticide & Toxic Chemical News, October 28, 2004 Vol. 6, No. 209

An attempt by organic farmers in Saskatchewan, Canada, to file a class action suit against developers of genetically engineered canola moves into a courtroom in early November.

Justice Gene-Ann Smith of the Court of Queen's Bench in Saskatoon will hear lawyers representing Monsanto Canada, Bayer Crop Science and two organic growers argue the merits of the suit. Class actions are relatively new in Canada, and the plaintiff has to convince the court the action should be allowed to go forward. If the judge agrees to certify the suit, then a trial would be held later.

Farmers Larry Hoffman and Dale Beaudoin, on behalf of a group called the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate, wants to be able to sue Monsanto and Bayer for an as-yet-undetermined amount in compensation for being unable to grow organic canola. They say the companies' GE varieties spread into fields of conventional canola, making it almost impossible to grow and sell organic canola that must be free of GE seeds.

Monsanto spokeswoman Trish Jordan said her company will argue that the suit should be dismissed. She said the farmers are being put forward by the Directorate, Greenpeace, and the British Soils Association "as a platform to advance their anti-GE position in the public arena and this is not an appropriate use of the court's time and resources. These groups are engaging in a scientific, social and political debate concerning GE foods rather than having a legitimate legal dispute."