GM Document Wars
Dakota Resource Council (DRC) this week is reviewing documents provided by North Dakota State University Research Foundation related to its contracts with Monsanto — but the question whether NDSURF is a public entity that must make the documents public is still up in the air.
"It is our understanding that [NDSURF] concedes that it is a public entity," Assistant Attorney General Mary Kae Kelsch wrote to Dale Zetocha, NDSURF Executive Director, July 26.
NDSURF attorney Michelle M. Donarski wrote back August 1 to say that no such concession was made, but that the foundation merely "determined that it would not challenge [DRC's] request for information."
DRC requested the documents in May. NDSURF initially refused to hand over documents but changed its mind after DRC requested an Attorney General's opinion.
DRC's request pointed out several reasons why NDSURF is a public entity:- Its website is part of NDSU's website;- It was established to support NDSU's teaching, research and public service missions;- Its financial activities are blended with NDSU's;- NDSU officials comprise and appoint a majority of its board of directors;- NDSU policies require all patentable discoveries to be assigned to NDSURF.
The controversy goes back several years to NDSU's partnership with Monsanto to research Roundup Ready wheat in secret test plots around the state. Monsanto eventually suspended the research in response to rejection by end users in many countries—and strong farmer concern about contamination of crops and loss of markets.
DRC Chair Dean Hulse said one thing he would like to find out is who would represent NDSU in legal action that might be filed against North Dakota farmers for alleged patent violations.
Monsanto has filed at least 90 lawsuits against farmers for alleged copyright infringement and collected over $15 million in damages, according to the Center for Food Safety.One of those, Rodney Nelson, Amenia, told CFS he spends over $12,000 per year taking precautions against being sued again.
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Center for Rural Affairs
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