“A new invention to poison people … is not a patentable invention.” Lowell v. Lewis, 1817
A landmark lawsuit filed on March 29 in US federal court seeks to invalidate Monsanto’s patents on genetically modified seeds and to prohibit the company from suing those whose crops become genetically contaminated.
The Public Patent Foundation filed suit on behalf of 270,000 people from sixty organic and sustainable businesses and trade associations, including thousands of certified-organic farmers. In Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, et al. v. Monsanto, et al. (U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, Case No. 11 CIV 2163), PUBPAT details the invalidity of any patent that poisons people and the environment, and that is not useful to society, two hallmarks of US patent law.
"As Justice Story wrote in 1817, to be patentable, an invention must not be 'injurious to the well being, good policy, or sound morals of society,'” notes the complaint in its opening paragraphs, citing Lowell v. Lewis.
The suit points to studies citing harm caused by Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, including human placental damage, lymphoma, myeloma, animal miscarriages, and other impacts on human health.
Plaintiffs condemn Monsanto for prohibiting independent research on its transgenic seeds and for its successful lobby efforts to ban GM food labeling. Many raise the specter of allergic reaction to GM foods, proof of which is hidden by lack of labeling.