Protesters assembled in front of the Washington, D.C. offices of agricultural biotech giant Monsanto Wednesday, in response to a federal judge's dismissal of a class-action lawsuit against the company.
Chanting phrases like "Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Monsanto has got to go!," 40 to 50 members of Occupy D.C. gathered in the rain in front of the I Street office building, reported DCist.
Although the Occupy protesters did not stop office workers from entering the building, a dozen demonstrators were arrested by D.C. police. The Washington Post notes that another Monsanto protest, called "Occupy Our Food Supply," took place on Tuesday in New York City.
The case that preceded the protests was called a "transparent effort to create a controversy where none exists" by Naomi Buchwald, the U.S. District Court judge who dismissed the claims against Monsanto.
According to Reuters, the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association and dozens of other plaintiffs filed the suit hoping for a "ruling that would prohibit Monsanto from suing the farmers or dealers if their organic seed becomes contaminated with Monsanto's patented biotech seed germplasm."
Monsanto, the world's largest seed company, is known for its "reputation for zealously defending its patents on its genetically altered crops," explained Reuters.
Monsanto spokesman Tom Helscher told The Washington Post, "We respect each individual's right to express his or her point of view. Agriculture and its uses are important to all of us...We believe farmers should have the opportunity to select the production method of their choice -- whether that be organic, conventional or the improved seeds developed using biotechnology."
Earlier in February, a French court found Monsanto guilty of poisoning a French farmer. The Lyon court ruled in favor of Paul Francois, who claimed to suffer from neurological debilities after inhaling a Monsanto weedkiller in 2004, reported Reuters.
Francois' lawyer told Reuters, "It is a historic decision in so far as it is the first time that a (pesticide) maker is found guilty of such a poisoning."