Percy Schmeiser stands up to -- and takes down -- Monsanto

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Percy Schmeiser stands up to -- and takes down -- Monsanto

Postby Mr. G » Mon Mar 21, 2011 8:58 pm

http://www.vegsource.com/news/2011/03/p ... santo.html

Percy Schmeiser, a farmer in Saskatchewan, Canada, spent a decade battling GM behemoth Monsanto. In the end, after many setbacks, he came away with a win of $660, which was the cost of removing Monsanto's "Roundup Ready" canola oil seeds off Schmeiser's land.

13 years ago Monsanto claimed it found its canola growing on Schmeiser's 1,030 acre farm. Though he had never puchased the seeds and had grown canola for 50 years, and planted seed he had saved from his own crops, Monsanto didn't care. They said somehow their genetically modified (GM) product had found its way onto his fields, and Schmeiser owed them money.

$400,000 to be exact.

Although Schmeiser didn't want the GM seed and didn't spray his fields with herbicide -- which is the only reason why you would use the GM seeds in the first place -- Monsanto decided to sue when Schmeiser wouldn't pay.

According to the Center for Food Safety, as of 2005, 186 farmers had paid Monsanto a total of $15 million in response to similar Roundup Ready claims. But Schmeiser fought back.

Schmeiser lost at trial and on appeal and was ordered to pay nearly $20,000 in damages and $150,000 for Monsanto’s legal fees.

But the Canadian Supreme Court didn't see it that way. They ruled for Schmeiser. The court found that Monsanto's patent was valid, and that Schmeiser had infringed when the seeds were on his land, but it held he had gained no benefit from using the seed, and that he owed Monsanto nothing.

Schmeiser quit planting canola but, in 2005, he found more Roundup Ready canola in his fields. Monsanto had a standing offer to clean the stuff out of any fields where it was growing without the company’s permission. But they required farmers to sign a release that included an agreement never to discuss the terms under which the cleanup was done.

Schmeiser refused to be gagged by the release as a condition of getting Monsanto's GM canola off his land. When Monsanto wouldn’t change the release, he hired help to remove the invading canola and sent Monsanto the bill. Monsanto wouldn’t pay. So Schmeiser sued.

On the eve of trial, the parties agreed to settle. Monsanto paid the cleanup costs and Schmeiser signed a release—without the nondisclosure clause.

Isn't it nice when every now and then David beats Goliath?
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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Re: Percy Schmeiser stands up to -- and takes down -- Monsanto

Postby KeithBC » Mon Mar 21, 2011 9:32 pm

What a long road it's been for the guy! It takes guts to put your livelihood on the line to take on the big guys who have deep pockets. Even if you're right, it's a tough slog. I'm glad that he ended up with at least a symbolic victory.

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Re: Percy Schmeiser stands up to -- and takes down -- Monsanto

Postby catmoon » Wed Mar 23, 2011 7:51 am

Unbelievable. Years ago I heard the he had lost his first appeal and assumed that was it for poor Percy. Now I wonder, what about some compensation for being dragged through the courts for all these years for no reason? What about a trespass suit? Monsanto took actions that resulted in the forced conversion of crops to Roundup-ready status, against the will of an innocent farmer.

And... how about a class action suit by all the other farmers, based on the Supreme Court decision?
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Re: Percy Schmeiser stands up to -- and takes down -- Monsanto

Postby Mr. G » Thu Mar 31, 2011 6:33 pm

Farmers and Seed Producers Launch Preemptive Strike against Monsanto

Lawsuit Filed To Protect Themselves from Unfair Patent Enforcement on Genetically Modified Seed

Action Would Prohibit Biotechnology Giant from Suing Organic Farmers and Seed Growers If Innocently Contaminated by Roundup Ready Genes


NEW York: On behalf of 60 family farmers, seed businesses and organic agricultural organizations, the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) filed suit today against Monsanto Company challenging the chemical giant’s patents on genetically modified seed. The organic plaintiffs were forced to sue preemptively to protect themselves from being accused of patent infringement should their crops ever become contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically modified seed.

Monsanto has sued farmers in the United States and Canada, in the past, when their patented genetic material has inadvertently contaminated their crops.

A copy of the lawsuit can be found at:
(http://www.pubpat.org/assets/files/seed ... plaint.pdf)

The case, Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association, et al. v. Monsanto, was filed in federal district court in Manhattan and assigned to Judge Naomi Buchwald. Plaintiffs in the suit represent a broad array of family farmers, small businesses and organizations from within the organic agriculture community who are increasingly threatened by genetically modified seed contamination despite using their best efforts to avoid it. The plaintiff organizations have over 270,000 members, including thousands of certified organic family farmers.

“This case asks whether Monsanto has the right to sue organic farmers for patent infringement if Monsanto’s transgenic seed or pollen should land on their property,” said Dan Ravicher, PUBPAT’s Executive Director. “It seems quite perverse that an organic farmer contaminated by transgenic seed could be accused of patent infringement, but Monsanto has made such accusations before and is notorious for having sued hundreds of farmers for patent infringement, so we had to act to protect the interests of our clients.”

Once released into the environment, genetically modified seed can contaminate and destroy organic seed for the same crop. For example, soon after Monsanto introduced genetically modified seed for canola, organic canola became virtually impossible to grow as a result of contamination.

Organic corn, soybeans, cotton, sugar beets and alfalfa also face the same fate, as Monsanto has released genetically modified seed for each of those crops as well.

Monsanto is currently developing genetically modified seed for many other crops, thus putting the future of all food, and indeed all agriculture, at stake.

“Monsanto’s threats and abuse of family farmers stops here. Monsanto’s genetic contamination of organic seed and organic crops ends now,” stated Jim Gerritsen, a family farmer in Maine who raises organic seed and is President of lead plaintiff Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association. “Americans have the right to choice in the marketplace – to decide what kind of food they will feed their families.”

“Family-scale farmers desperately need the judiciary branch of our government to balance the power Monsanto is able to wield in the marketplace and in the courts,” said Mark A. Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst for The Cornucopia Institute, one of the plaintiffs. “Monsanto, and the biotechnology industry, have made great investments in our executive and legislative branches through campaign contributions and powerful lobbyists in Washington.”

In the case, PUBPAT is asking Judge Buchwald to declare that if organic farmers are ever contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically modified seed, they need not fear also being accused of patent infringement. One reason justifying this result is that Monsanto’s patents on genetically modified seed are invalid because they don’t meet the “usefulness” requirement of patent law, according to PUBPAT’s Ravicher, the plaintiffs’ lead attorney in the case.

“Evidence cited by PUBPAT in its opening filing today proves that genetically modified seed has negative economic and health effects, while the promised benefits of genetically modified seed – increased production and decreased herbicide use – are false,” added Ravicher who is also a Lecturer of Law at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York.

Ravicher continued, “Some say transgenic seed can coexist with organic seed, but history tells us that’s not possible, and it’s actually in Monsanto’s financial interest to eliminate organic seed so that they can have a total monopoly over our food supply,” said Ravicher. “Monsanto is the same chemical company that previously brought us Agent Orange, DDT, PCB’s and other toxins, which they said were safe, but we know are not. Now Monsanto says transgenic seed is safe, but evidence clearly shows it is not.”
    How foolish you are,
    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
    - Vasubandhu
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