Death by Crosspollination: The Uncontrollable Natural Occurrence That Could Kill Organic Farming and the Legal Solutions to Save an Industry

Belmont Law Review, Spring 2020

32 Pages Posted: 4 Feb 2020 Last revised: 25 Mar 2020

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 11, 2020


American farmers are under attack by uncontrollable technology. Patented genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are unwantedly contaminating organic crops in a process recognized by many, including the United States Supreme Court and GMO patent holding companies such as Monsanto. The process is called crosspollination. Crosspollination is a natural event where pollen produced by one plant is carried by the wind or bees to another plant. Typically, crosspollination is beneficial because it helps nourish the plants. However, the process is nearly uncontrollable in nature. Crosspollination can lead to catastrophic ends for owners of small, organic farms in the era of patented GMOs. This paper offers proposed legislative changes aimed at alleviating the problems that organic farmers now face. Suggested legal changes include: 1. Federal legislation modeled after California and Maine’s agriculture codes, which create a requirement of intent for any patent infringement suit against organic farmers; and 2. State legislative action to codify the relationship between Monsanto and its growers as an agency relationship.

The goal of the first legal change, instituting an intent requirement to patent infringement, is to ensure that organic farmers unintentionally and unwantedly contaminated by GMOs cannot be sued by Monsanto for patent infringement. Additionally, this will add some security to organic farmers to with neighbors that grow GMO crops. With this legal change organic farmers will know that even if they are contaminated, they do not have to fear Monsanto knocking at their door the next morning.

The goal of the second legal solution, is to allow organic farmers a cause of action to recoup and damages they suffer from contamination. It’s well known that certified organic crops are worth much more at market than conventionally grown crops. Therefore, organic farmers that are contaminated have an instant loss of their certification and the market price their products would have brought if they were not contaminated. To combat this, the legal theory of agency would allow farmers to avoid harming their neighboring farmer, but go after the GMO company instead, for the trespass on their crops and for the money the organic farmer lost because of their loss of certification and crop prices.

Keywords: GMO, Monsanto, Agriculture, Climate Change, Climate, Environment, Law, AG, AG Law, Agriculture Law, Corn, Legal Studies

Suggested Citation

Warehime, Austin, Death by Crosspollination: The Uncontrollable Natural Occurrence That Could Kill Organic Farming and the Legal Solutions to Save an Industry (January 11, 2020). Belmont Law Review, Spring 2020 , Available at SSRN: or

Austin Warehime (Contact Author)

Belmont College of Law ( email )

United States

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