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Monsanto May Have To Repay 10 Years of GM Soya Royalties In Brazil 377

Posted by Soulskill
from the bean-counters dept.
scibri writes "Biotech giant Monsanto is one step closer to losing billions of dollars in revenues from its genetically-modified Roundup Ready soya beans, after the Brazilian Supreme Court ruled the company must repay royalties collected over the past decade. Since GM crops were legalized in 2005, Monsanto has charged Brazilian farmers royalties of 2% on their sales of Roundup Ready soya beans. The company also tests Brazilian soya beans that are sold as non-GM — if they turn out to be Roundup Ready, the company charges the farmers 3%. Farmers challenged this as an unjust tax on their business. In April a regional court ruled against Monsanto, though that ruling has been put on hold pending an appeal. The Supreme Court, meanwhile has said that whatever the final ruling is, it will apply throughout the whole country."
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Monsanto May Have To Repay 10 Years of GM Soya Royalties In Brazil

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  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Friday June 15, 2012 @01:05PM (#40337351)

    Patents are the real problem. Monsanto designed these seeds to be sterile, so you have to keep rebuying the same product year-after-year (instead of just reusing last year's seeds for the new crop). Also the seeds cross-polinate to non-Monsanto seeds, polluting nature's generic seeds with Monsanto genes. And worst of all:

    Monsanto has a nasty habit of suing innocent farmers who have decided to continue using the "generic" seeds provided by nature. They send-round lawyers to harass the farmers, issue threatening letters, and file court cases. Oftentimes these lawsuits bankrupt the farmer, which was Monsanto's original intent: To eliminate people who are not using their products. Their tactics are very similar to how the bastards at the RIAA and MPAA act, but very much more destructive.

  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Friday June 15, 2012 @01:20PM (#40337469)

    >>>They sue farmers who knowingly use seeds with the Monsanto gene in them without paying. People on the internet seem to think if they keep repeating a lie, it'll become true.
    >>>
    TRUTH not lies. They sue people they SUSPECT are using the gene, based upon flimsy evidence like, "Farmer John Does uses a shaking machine to extract seeds from his crop, and saves the seeds for next year." Then they send-round the lawyers to *invade* the man's property, confirm such a machine exists, and start issuing cease-and-desist letters (presumption of guilt just because he saves his seed). If the farmer continues using the machine, the lawyers sue the man. They act VERY much like how RIAA and the MPAA act when they send extortionate letters & file lawsuits against "John Does" who are entirely innocent of any crime (except they used bittorrent).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 15, 2012 @01:28PM (#40337591)

    They're called bees.

  • Re:Pros of Monsanto? (Score:3, Informative)

    by stan_qaz (2482542) on Friday June 15, 2012 @01:38PM (#40337735)
    They and Bill Gates play well together? Google: Monsanto "Bill Gates" - but only if you want to get really aggravated.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 15, 2012 @01:47PM (#40337859)

    Luddites?

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/01/19/monsanto-gm-corn-causing_n_425195.html [huffingtonpost.com]

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeffrey-smith/genetically-modified-soy_b_544575.html [huffingtonpost.com]

    http://www.mindfully.org/GE/2005/Modified-Soya-Rats10oct05.htm [mindfully.org]

    basically, no one does ANY testing, they just trust that Monsanto says that it is safe,

    http://www.fda.gov/Food/Biotechnology/Submissions/ucm161107.htm [fda.gov]

    And please, don't get me started about "nature does it for millennia" bullshit. Nature does not insert random genes from some weird funguses or fish into corn (or other plants).

    The natural world will have NO PROBLEMS paying the price in working around these new toxins in the plants. It will take a few years and hundreds of generations of critters, but they will adapt. Are we willing to pay the same price too? Sooner or later, we may just find our that our improved food is killing us and we don't know why.

    We have evolved to eat the food we have available, not the other way around. We are FAR away from an understanding how our body works completely. We know the big picture, but that's it. So please, don't call people that question our "perfect understanding of nature" into question. You just sound like those stupid people,

    http://science.slashdot.org/story/12/06/12/2148229/why-smart-people-are-stupid [slashdot.org]

  • Horrible summary (Score:3, Informative)

    by Translation Error (1176675) on Friday June 15, 2012 @01:59PM (#40338021)

    the Brazilian Supreme Court ruled the company must repay royalties collected over the past decade.

    What?! The linked article doesn't say anything of the sort! It says:

    In April, Giovanni Conti, a judge in Rio Grande do Sul, decided that Monsanto's levy was illegal, noting that the patents relating to Roundup Ready soya beans have already expired in Brazil. He ordered Monsanto to stop collecting royalties, and return those collected since 2004 -- or pay back a minimum of US$2 billion. Monsanto appealed, and Conti's decision has been suspended for now, pending consideration by the Justice Tribune of Rio Grande do Sul.

    But in 2011, Monsanto had also made a parallel legal bid to the Brazilian Supreme Court of Justice, the country's highest federal court. The company argued that the syndicates had no legal status to bring their case, and also that any final ruling should be limited to Rio Grande do Sul, fearing that its losses would be even greater if it applied to the whole country. On 12 June, the judges of the Brazilian Supreme Court of Justice ruled against Monsanto, deciding unanimously that the ruling by the Justice Tribune of Rio Grande do Sul, once it is made, should apply nationwide. Monsanto has declined to comment on the case.

  • by Jeng (926980) on Friday June 15, 2012 @01:59PM (#40338023)

    Wow talk about splitting hairs, the person I replied to said that this was not the result of cross pollination due to wind blown pollen, but now you are saying well they weren't windblown, they were carried by bees.

    Why in the fuck does it matter how the cross pollination happened, whether bee or blown, it has the same result.

  • by Iceykitsune (1059892) <stevemon23@gmail . c om> on Friday June 15, 2012 @01:59PM (#40338025)

    the seed is sterile the pollen is not

  • by Blahah (1444607) on Friday June 15, 2012 @02:09PM (#40338149)

    This is one of the most misinformed comments I have ever seen on /.

    You clearly have no knowledge whatsoever about the Indian farmer suicide problem [wikipedia.org], which began years before Monsanto started selling GM seed in India, and is absolutely nothing to do with the company. The suicides are, according to most analyses I've seen [ifpri.org], usually linked closely with widespread crop failures which follow monsoon drought seasons. It's a climate problem, not a Monsanto problem.

    And farmer suicide being the #2 killer in India? That's so stupid it hurts to read. If you check the WHO mortality data [who.int], you'll find non-communicable diseases and infectious diseases account for 9/10 of the top ten causes of death, with accidental injury being the 10th.

    Finally, patents do last for 20 years in the USA! Not 100 years.

    Please, in future, try not to comment until you have the slightest clue what you're talking about.

  • by asvravi (1236558) on Friday June 15, 2012 @02:14PM (#40338185)
    Wrong on the India farmers bit. Here is an extract from a Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] -

    There have been claims of genetically-modified (GM) seeds (such as Bt cotton) being responsible for the farmer suicides.[25][26][27][28] A short documentary by Frontline (U.S. TV series) suggested that farmers using GM seeds promoted by Cargill and Monsanto have led to rising debts and forced some into the equivalent of indentured servitude to the moneylenders.[29]
    A report released by the International Food Policy Research Institute in October 2008 provided evidence that the introduction of Bt cotton was not a major factor in farmer suicides in India.[30] It argues that the suicides predate the introduction of the cotton in 2002 and has been fairly consistent since 1997.[30][31] Other studies also suggest the increase in farmer suicides is due to a combination of various socio-economic factors.[32] These include debt, the difficulty of farming semi-arid regions, poor agricultural income, absence of alternative income opportunities, the downturn in the urban economy forcing non-farmers into farming, and the absence of suitable counseling services.[32][33]
  • Re:Horrible summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lisias (447563) on Friday June 15, 2012 @02:18PM (#40338227) Homepage Journal

    the Brazilian Supreme Court ruled the company must repay royalties collected over the past decade.

    What?! The linked article doesn't say anything of the sort!

    From the same arcticle:

    "On 12 June, the judges of the Brazilian Supreme Court of Justice ruled against Monsanto, deciding unanimously that the ruling by the Justice Tribune of Rio Grande do Sul, once it is made, should apply nationwide. Monsanto has declined to comment on the case."

    So, Judges of Rio Grande do Sul ruled out that Monsanto should repay back the last decade royalties. And the Brazilian Supreme Court stated that once this ruling is confirmed, will be valid for the whole country!

    So, yes, it says exactly that - but not directly, as any person that is not a fool can see :-)

  • by sjames (1099) on Friday June 15, 2012 @02:24PM (#40338297) Homepage

    The thing is, we now know for a fact that plants can be bread for roundup readiness without 'stealing' Monsanto's gene (because it's been done), using only more conventional breeding and selection techniques. We also know that there are weeds growing wild that have the necessary resistance to roundup and that they are close enough to canola to breed with it. We know this because now that fields are being drenched in roundup routinely, we have weeds that are resistant to it.

    Further, until Monsanto started it's war on everything not Monsanto, it was understood that the proprietary nature of a trait in a plant died once it crossed with someone else's plants. That is, you have some very special variety of corn. I am free to plant my perfectly ordinary corn on my adjoining property AND select for the amazing traits of your corn in the resulting future generations. I can even do so until I fully recreate your very special corn down to the last gene (but in practice I would stop once I had the desirable traits and had bread out undesirable ones, I wouldn't need or want a perfect copy).

    Actual ownership of the gene itself is quite new and on somewhat shaky ground, especially since the gene was NOT created by designing a sequence of amino acids necessary to create the wanted trait, it was found and inserted into the genome.

    A wrinkle you're missing is that Monsanto's traits actually contaminated the line of canola that Schmeiser had been developing using conventional breeding techniques for his own use for many years. He was faced with a choice of destroying years of his own work or just pretending the Monsanto gene didn't exist.

    And that's the big issue. Monsanto crops contaminate the genome of non-Monsanto crops, then Monsanto sues the victim.

  • by Barefoot Monkey (1657313) on Friday June 15, 2012 @02:28PM (#40338341)

    It wouldn't be a problem if the Roundup-Ready crops didn't produce pollen which would fertilise non-sterile seeds.

  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Friday June 15, 2012 @02:55PM (#40338619)

    I can't believe this misinformation about the Schmeiser case is so wide spread.

    The reason Schmeiser lost his case was not due to a small accidental contamination of his crops. Schmeiser noticed a an area of his land that had volunteer canola plants on it, sprayed it to select for Round-Up Ready plants, saved the seed from the surviving plants, and then replanted 1000 acres with the seed, and as well resold some of the selected seed.

    The result was a crop that was some 95% RoundUp ready canola due to intentional planting of selected seed.

    This was a bald-faced case of intentional patent infringement, not some accidental case of a few wind pollinated plants.

    From Wikipedia:

    The Canadian Court's ruling concluded: ... on the balance of probabilities, the defendants infringed a number of the claims under the plaintiffsâ(TM) Canadian patent number 1,313,830 by planting, in 1998, without leave or licence by the plaintiffs, canola fields with seed saved from the 1997 crop which seed was known, or ought to have been known by the defendants to be Roundup tolerant and when tested was found to contain the gene and cells claimed under the plaintiffsâ(TM) patent. By selling the seed harvested in 1998 the defendants further infringed the plaintiffsâ(TM) patent."

  • by ChromeAeonium (1026952) on Friday June 15, 2012 @03:38PM (#40339111)

    Maybe I'm just misreading your comment, but are you implying GE crops do not produce seed? You do realize that the thing in corn, canola, cotton, and soy (four of the big GE crops) that you use is the seed? It would be news to, well, everyone if those crops did not produce seed. Learn some basic crop physiology before making obviously baseless accusations.

  • by ChromeAeonium (1026952) on Friday June 15, 2012 @04:01PM (#40339347)

    For the same reason that if some random person drops a DVD of a movie off at a movie theater that theater can't start having showings of the movie simply because they found the DVD on their property. Just getting the DVD isn't illegal, but intentionally using it afterward is. Likewise, nothing happens if you are cross pollinated, only if you intentionally select for the trait.

  • by sjames (1099) on Friday June 15, 2012 @04:24PM (#40339563) Homepage

    Here we have some successes at UC Davis breeding resistant lettuce. [westernfarmpress.com].

    Bolivian Cocoa farmers also managed [wikipedia.org]. As a result, the DEA accidentally helped improve their yield with free roundup.

    Here [google.com] we have weeds developing the trait. Certainly they didn't even have the minimal help of conventional breeding. They most certainly weren't created by GM techniques. If it can happen by accident, it can be made to happen.

  • by manaway (53637) on Friday June 15, 2012 @05:29PM (#40340185)

    This is one of the most misinformed comments I have ever seen on /. You clearly have no knowledge whatsoever about the Indian farmer suicide problem [wikipedia.org], which began years before Monsanto started selling GM seed in India, and is absolutely nothing to do with the company. The suicides are, according to most analyses I've seen [ifpri.org], usually linked closely with widespread crop failures which follow monsoon drought seasons. It's a climate problem, not a Monsanto problem.

    If you check your own source, it states: "monsoons leading to a series of droughts, lack of better prices, exploitation by Middlemen, all of which have led to a series of suicides committed by farmers across India." If the droughts were the main cause then prices would go up from lack of supply. Since prices are falling, the pricing problem is largely for other reasons, including middlemen like Monsanto.

    And farmer suicide being the #2 killer in India? That's so stupid it hurts to read. If you check the WHO mortality data [who.int], you'll find non-communicable diseases and infectious diseases account for 9/10 of the top ten causes of death, with accidental injury being the 10th.

    Again, if you check your own source, the WHO data is irrelevant since it's for all of India, not just farmers. If you check your Wikipedia source, this states that farmer suicides are increasing.

    Please, in future, try not to comment until you have the slightest clue what you're talking about.

    You would do well to take your own advice; but then apologists rarely do.

    Additional sources: Monsanto in India [sourcewatch.org] and Vandana Shiva [zcommunications.org].

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