| October 31, 2004
-- CropChoice news -- Sean Pratt, producer.com, 10/28/04:
After numerous delays, a court case pitting organic growers
against biotechnology firms has been scheduled for next
Larry Hoffman, L.B. Hoffman Farms Inc. and Dale Beaudoin
filed the original statement of claim nearly three years
ago on Jan. 10, 2002.
It alleges the organic growers have suffered financial
losses due to the introduction of genetically modified
canola by Monsanto Canada and Bayer CropScience.
The growers who filed the claim want to open the case
so any Saskatchewan organic farmer certified after Jan.
1, 1996, can seek damages from the two biotech firms.
On Nov. 1-2, lawyers for both sides are expected to
appear in Saskatoon's Court of Queen's Bench where they'll
argue whether there are grounds for the case to proceed
as a class action lawsuit.
Counsel for Monsanto is expected to argue the case
does not meet the five criteria required for certification
under the Class Actions Act and should be dismissed.
"We believe groups such as the Saskatchewan Organic
Directorate, Greenpeace and the British Soils Association
are simply using this lawsuit as a platform to advance
their anti-GMO position in the public arena and this
is not an appropriate use of the court's time and resources,"
said Monsanto spokesperson Trish Jordan.
Arnold Taylor, president of the Saskatchewan Organic
Directorate, the group co-ordinating the class action
suit, said while the groups may share the same beliefs
on GM canola, SOD hasn't received direct funding from
Greenpeace or the British Soils Association.
"We're representing 1,000 hard-working certified
organic farmers who have real concerns about the fact
that we can't buy canola seed without GMO contamination."
While the two sides are exchanging public barbs via
the media, the plaintiffs' claims will not be debated
at the certification hearing, which is a procedural
inquiry to see if the case deserves to be tried as a
class action suit.
The hearing was previously scheduled for September
but was delayed at the last minute until Nov. 1-2.