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Monday, September 29, 2008

$1 Million Verdict to Contaminated Organic Farm

Jacob's Farm Organic won their pesticide drift lawsuit today in stunning fashion. Many congratulations to them and to our legal system for recognizing the responsibility of land users to contain use to within property boundaries. Here's the link to an article from today's SF Chronicle and below is a note from Larry Jacobs:
"As many of you know, for the past two weeks we have been in a contentious legal battle with Western Farm Service, a pesticide sales company. The law suit was the result of continued contamination by toxic pesticides on our crops at Wilder Ranch State Park. The defendant claimed they were innocent because the pesticide industry and California's Department of Pesticide Regulation limit pesticide drift to the movement of pesticides by wind at time of application. The repeated contamination that began in October 2006 and continued through 2007 was caused by the evaporation (volatilization) of organophosphates after application carried by wind and fog. Western Farm Service mounted an aggressive defense that attacked the veracity of our witnesses and claimed we were at fault for starting an organic farm in the middle of a conventional brussel sprout producing area. The jury found Western Farm Service guilty of Trespass, Negligence and Nuisance. We were awarded compensation for losses and legal fees. The case is significant because it makes the volatilization of pesticides and where they go the responsibility of the applicator. State Agricultural Commissioners will no longer be able to report "NO BLAME" as they did in our case when fields are contaminated or people injured by pesticides that volatize and move with wind or fog. As important, Wilder Ranch State Park along with the rest of the coast will be a safer place to live, work and enjoy. Thanks to everybody who worked on this trial and to all of you who kept things running. Your efforts made it possible for us to have the funds to fight the good fight."

P.s.- In an equally positive vein, AB 541 was signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger on Sept. 27, 2008. AB 541 indemnifies California farmers who have not been able to prevent the inevitable – the drift of GE pollen or seed onto their land and the subsequent contamination of non-GE crops. Currently, farmers with crops that become contaminated by patented seeds or pollen have been the target of harassing lawsuits brought by biotech patent holders, most notoriously Monsanto. Further, if their contaminated crops cause harm to other farmers, the environment or consumers, they have not been protected from that liability. AB 541 provides protections for farmers from such liability. The bill also establishes a mandatory crop sampling protocol to level the playing field when biotech companies investigate alleged patent or contract violations. More on that here.

posted by CASFS 2006 @ 11:25 PM

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