A judge has ordered pre-trial oral arguments in a case pitting organic farmers against agribusiness giant Monsanto.

Headed by Maine potato farmer Jim Gerritsen, the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, with legal backing from the Public Patent Foundation, filed a lawsuit in March 2011 questioning the validity of Monsanto’s patents on genetically modified seeds and seeking protection from patent-infringement lawsuits for the plaintiffs should their crops become contaminated with Monsanto’s transgenic crops.

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Monsanto is a leading producer of genetically modified seeds.

Federal Judge Naomi Buchwald, of the Southern District of New York, has scheduled oral arguments to be heard Jan. 31 in Manhattan on Monsanto’s motion to dismiss the case. 

“We are grateful that Judge Buchwald has agreed to our request to hear oral argument on the motion,” Gerritsen said in a prepared statement. “Last August we submitted our written rebuttal and it made clear that Monsanto’s motion was without merit. Our legal team, from the Public Patent Foundation, is looking forward to orally presenting our position. The family farmers deserve their day in court. We are anxious that this case go to trial as soon as possible so that our innocent farmers may receive Court protection.”

Monsanto argues that the case is without merit.

Click here to learn more about the lawsuit.