News in Brief: Organic Farmers Sue Monsanto, and More

Organic Farmers Sue Monsanto

Organic farmers and their allies filed a lawsuit on Thursday against the Monsanto to challenge the biotech giant's patents and its habit of suing organic and family farmers for growing crops contaminated by transgenes from Monsanto's genetically engineered (GE) crops. Monsanto has a well-documented history of suing farmers for royalty payments on crops contaminated by the company's transgenes, according to plaintiff group the Public Patent Foundation. The lawsuit is being called a pre-emptive action against future lawsuits and follows the US Department of Agriculture's (USDA) recent decisions to deregulate Monsanto GE alfalfa, Monsanto sugar beets and a GE biofuel corn variety developed by Syngenta. “Family-scale farmers desperately need the judiciary branch of our government to balance the power Monsanto is able to wield inthe marketplace and in the courts,” said Mark A. Kastel, senior Farm Policy analyst for The Cornucopia Institute, one of the plaintiffs. Another coalition of watchdog groups and farmers recently filed a lawsuit against the USDA for its recent decision to fully deregulate Monsanto GE alfalfa despite some farmers concerns that the alfalfa would increase herbicide use and contaminate conventional alfalfa with transgenes.

Stalemate in Yemen

Negotiations between Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and the political opposition movement have reached a stalemate as thousands of people prepare for more massive protests in the country's capital and other cities, according to The Wall Street Journal. Saleh has rejected at least seven proposals from the opposition and is demanding that several of his family members and military allies stay in key positions of power in the government if he chooses to step down. Unrest in Yemen has increased in recent days as tanks and troops have defected to the opposition and are battling pro-government forces in the streets, and it's unclear if Saleh will ultimately decide to appease protesters and step down.

Revolutionary Energy Spreads to Afghanistan

Young Afghanis are expressing revolutionary sentiments after being inspired by the youthful activists who participated in uprisings against the leaders of countries like Egypt and Tunisia, according to NPR. Young Afghanis are reportedly fed up with the notoriously corrupt, US-backed government of President Hamid Karzai and also wish to be free from the violence brought by the Taliban. Youth in Afghanistan have the numbers to make a considerable challenge to the status quo, as 67 percent of the Afghan population is under the age of 25.