If the currently considered House Bill 2739 passes, it will enable Oregon farmers to sue Monsanto and other biotech patent holders if they happen to invade their properties with genetically engineered organisms without their legal permission. Many believe this is the right step in the direction of solving problems caused by harmful GMO. Apart from bill 2739, another one, House bill 2469, is also being considered. This bill, if accepted, will enable the local government to restrict GMO usage.
Contamination by genetically modified organisms can cause serious economic losses for farmers and landowners, especially those that hold organic certifications. It could cost them their reputation as well as their customers. Since there are more and more markets that seek no- GMO-product, small farmers have an opportunity to sell their product for convenient prices. Whenever unauthorized crops appear in the fields, and there are many ways to make it happen, the farmers are the ones that usually lose the case since the companies that own the seed patents are usually the ones winning before the court.
This bill, if accepted, would represent a new power in the hands of the farmers who would like to continue growing GMO-free products on their farms.
Plaintiffs who decide to sue these companies could receive up to three times the amount of damages caused by the GMOs that harmed their land under the guidelines of HB 2739. This will force companies like Monsanto to take responsibility and be more careful with contamination since they are the ones profiting from GMO patents.
The opponents to the bill are the farmers that depend on GMO seeds and individuals who believe this could discourage companies from introducing innovative products in Oregon because they will want to avoid any possibilities of additional lawsuits.