Dan Hobbs: ‘Our goal is to protect farmers from patent infringement charges by Monsanto when their organic crops are contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically altered seed’

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

In January, the organic farm advocate traveled to New York to lend his support — and testimony, if needed — to a federal court case brought by the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association against Monsanto. Hobbs was not called on to testify during the oral arguments, but joined about 200 others from food safety groups and Occupy Wall Street in a rally near the courthouse after the courtroom action wrapped up. The farmers lost their challenge to Monsanto’s patents on genetically engineered seed on Feb. 24. Monsanto admitted to filing 144 lawsuits between 1997-2010 and settled another 700 cases out of court for undisclosed amounts with gag orders on the farmers, which the association says amounts to harassment of farmers. “Our goal is to protect farmers from patent infringement charges by Monsanto when their organic crops are contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically altered seed,” Hobbs said.

Last week, a federal appeals court agreed to hear an appeal of the New York decision…

“We believe the precautionary principle should be followed,” Hobbs said. “The first genetic crops appeared in the 1990s, and they pushed them without any review. Now, 94 percent of soy is genetically modified, and that wipes out the genetic diversity.”

For Hobbs, 43, who has farmed on 30 acres at Avondale since 2000, there is no direct threat to the types of food he grows, both as cash crops and for seed: garlic, squash, beans and vegetables. In all, he and partner Jamie Dunston raise seed for eight varieties of garlic and a couple dozen other vegetables.

Hobbs relocated to Pueblo after learning about organic farming and training others in Northern New Mexico in the late 1990s. He was lured here by the climate — cool nights, hot days during growing season — and plentiful water on the Bessemer Ditch.

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