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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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  • Too much control (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Friday June 15, 2012 @01:58PM (#40337291) Homepage Journal

    To have one company have total control over a food source is disturbing. They essentially have a monopoly and have risked destroying non GM crops through cross-contamination and I think it should be Monsanto that should be paying damages to farmers who do not want to deal with GM crops.

  • by jklappenbach (824031) on Friday June 15, 2012 @02:05PM (#40337353) Journal
    Monsanto needs to rethink their business model. While some may have emotionally based reactions toward GM in general, the consensus is that it's an essential tool in the effort to feed the world's growing population. In order to continue, Monsanto needs to stop thinking in terms of genetics as intellectual property, and being paid for wherever their genomes spread. Instead, they need to focus on their relationship with the farmer, and making that relationship essential enough to pay for on a yearly basis. Aside from the product of seed, there are a wide number of services that Monsanto can and should be providing to farmers to help ensure that yields remain high as well as managing business and ecological concerns. Instead of alienating, they should be making themselves as useful as possible.
  • by Picass0 (147474) on Friday June 15, 2012 @02:05PM (#40337359) Homepage Journal

    It's not every day you see someone make the RIAA and MPAA look like amateurs.

  • by gstrickler (920733) on Friday June 15, 2012 @02:08PM (#40337375)

    I know patents protect against independent invention, reverse engineering, etc. but if your product produces seed that "infects" another field or wind blows those seeds to another field, you are NOT entitled to royalties on those seeds.

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday June 15, 2012 @02:11PM (#40337405)

    How about not letting them patent living things?

    I think that would be enough. A farmer should be able to save seed, or benefit from cross pollination. In the later case I can't even think of a reasonable argument against it. If you don't want to give away your plants genetic material then grow it indoors.

    I think GM foods are fine, and even useful, but I don't think you should be able to make your neighbors responsible for material you are spreading freely.

  • by Jeng (926980) on Friday June 15, 2012 @02:15PM (#40337431)

    And how do those genes get in the seed?

    Are you seriously suggesting that there are illegal seed factories out there making generic versions of Monsanto's seeds?

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday June 15, 2012 @02:15PM (#40337433)

    Why should the farmers pay for seed that Monsanto freely pollinated? No one forced Monsanto to let their plants spread that genetic material. They could require their growers to keep their plants only indoors.

    Farmers should be able to sue Monsanto for contaminating their fields if anything.

  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Friday June 15, 2012 @02:19PM (#40337459) Journal

    Monsanto shouldn't be allowed to assert rights on second generation seeds. If they want to protect their GM products, they need to make them sterile.

    Imagine if a company used their patented method to modify your genes to fix a genetic defect in you. For $100,000 they cured your diabetes. Then what would happen if they asserted that you owed them an additional $100,000 for every child you had, and every grandchild born within the patent term? If you didn't pay per child, and they were found to have the fixed gene, you owed them $150,000 each.

  • by HerculesMO (693085) on Friday June 15, 2012 @02:32PM (#40337653)

    To do the research behind GM seed/food is actually a great thing; they've proven to be safe, often more nutritious, and grow with less pesticides and run-off into the ecosystem. In short, GM foods are great.

    The problem of course is that Monsanto is almost a monopoly, and they are an egregious patent abuser. That leads people like Jeffrey Smith (the "King" of the 'natural foods' movement) to capitalize on making a patent abuser also somehow relate to making an unsafe product by using dubious "evidence" to damn them. Then a bunch of morons run into the fray saying "SEE! I told you GM foods are bad for you! I'm going FULLY organic!" which basically serves no purpose than to empty your wallet faster.

    The problem is as nerds and what I hope would be a generally more scientifically "apt" community as here on Slashdot, I'd hope that we stand up for what's right and good. And GM foods are not evil. They are actually wholly beneficial to us as both an ecosystem (the human one) and as scientists who look to gain more yields and benefits through nutrition. And the Jeffrey Smiths of the world are ruining that. They are basically the equivalent of intelligent design advocates, or anti-evolution nuts. They have no place in our scientific discourse, but due to the evil that Monsanto operates with, they are given a pass because they associate the evils of PATENT abuse, to bad science. They are not one in the same.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 15, 2012 @02:42PM (#40337787)

    If Monsanto can't patent the GM crop you created, Monsanto is not going to create any GM crops.

    Fine, there's no reason a private entity has to. Tons of public research has been sold off to private entities over the years and then they claim total ownership of the end result. We're free to pursue public research to the end and create these things. They are supposed to be for the public good, after all. If they benefit all mankind then by all rights these are the things we should be funding (just as we publicly fund a lot of medical research).

  • by poetmatt (793785) on Friday June 15, 2012 @02:57PM (#40337991) Journal

    I don't think you understand how bad this stuff is. People are unsure if GMO is modifying *people* as well. So it's not just the patent and greed issues, GMO is literally affecting DNA/RNA. So it's another case where greed is literally bring down society in the same way as MPAA/RIAA.

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday June 15, 2012 @03:16PM (#40338213) Homepage

    In short, GM foods are great.

    All general statements are false. In this case, it depends a great deal on what the modifications do.

    GM plants needing less pesticide: Good. GM plants that don't produce a viable seed for the sole purpose of increasing Monsanto's profits at the expense of poor farmers in Brazil, India, and a lot of other places: Evil. And using GM patents to force all farmers in the world to buy your product: Obviously very evil.

    In a perfect world, research on GM would have been publicly funded research with no patent protection and the option of any private seed manufacturer to get in the game of producing the seeds with these modifications. That would have given us the pesticide benefits and such that you speak of, but without all the BS from Monsanto.

  • by sjames (1099) on Friday June 15, 2012 @03:31PM (#40338371) Homepage

    The confusion is simple enough. SOME of their seeds are of the terminator variety. The problem with those is that a neighboring farmer can't know his crop was contaminated until he plants next year and nothing grows.

    Others are not a terminator variety. The problem with those is that they crossbreed with neighboring non-Monsanto varieties and then Monsanto sues the owners of the contaminated varieties.

    If you are going to attack someone, at least have your facts straight.

    Agreed! Hop to it!

  • by tlhIngan (30335) <(ten.frow) (ta) (todhsals)> on Friday June 15, 2012 @03:40PM (#40338461)

    Why should the farmers pay for seed that Monsanto freely pollinated? No one forced Monsanto to let their plants spread that genetic material. They could require their growers to keep their plants only indoors.

    Farmers should be able to sue Monsanto for contaminating their fields if anything.

    Easy, patent law. Anyone who uses a similar implementation as a patent holder is liable, even if the two came up with it via independent means. So when the Monsanto plants pollinate yours and infect your seeds, Montsanto calls it a patent violation even though Mother Nature did it.

    That's the problem.

    And that's the issue with GMO food - a lot of it derives from Monsanto's behavior on the market - basically bullying their way into complete control of the food we eat.

    Hell, you've effectively signed the Monsanto license agreement even if someone else planted the seeds on your field.

    And really, I'm guessing that's where most of the GMO opposition is coming from - forget Apple v. Samsung, it's really Monsanto v. food supply.

  • by X0563511 (793323) on Friday June 15, 2012 @03:40PM (#40338463) Homepage Journal

    Yep. Just because the plant can't produce a seed (pollen or no) they call it sterile.

    That's like calling a man sterile because he can't give birth.

  • by Sentrion (964745) on Friday June 15, 2012 @03:57PM (#40338627)

    If we can't feed the world's populations without genetically modifying crops and spraying all arable land with poison then maybe we should do something to curb population growth. The danger with companies like Monsanto is that rather than having a choice to use GM or conventional crops, in time GM will be the only choice and the companies will be able to dictate the price they choose rather than having fair competition and reasonably priced alternatives - if it's not too late already. It's similar to the way that medical providers in the USA dictate their prices to their patients, and the reason why medical bills are the leading cause of personal bankruptcies in the USA today. Physicians groups and hospitals blame technology for higher costs, but much of the care provided today isn't substantially better than what was offered 20 years ago, especially considering that today a large number of patients cannot continue or complete their treatment because they first run out of money.

    Free markets are great for consumer choices, like listen to radio with commercials or buy CDs without commercials. "Free markets" are not so great for "your money or your life" types of choices. Physicians, pharmaceutical sales reps, and hospital administrators don't necessarily have more education or qualifications than physicists, car salespeople, and school administrators, but the first class earns substantially higher incomes. Children need to go to school on a daily basis but only a small number will require a hospital, yet just one trip to a hospital can cost more than a year of school. The "cost" of healthcare in America is directly proportional to the lifestyles of those who control the healthcare industry. Current laws allow them to charge whatever fee they choose AFTER services are rendered while patients rarely have the ability to shop and compare providers by price, especially in emergency situations. Medical treatment is often literally not a choice - many states mandate that people provide and pay for the medically necessary care of their spouses and children, and even if you are unconscious you are liable for the cost of care you receive during your "implied consent", regardless of how many tens of thousands of dollars that may be. The only reason many ER visits can be invoiced an exact amount is because legally the hospitals cannot sue for "everything you have or ever will have" so they make up a price that closely approximates what they think this figure might be.

    Monsanto wants to have the same kind of power. To take everything you have or ever will have (or you don't get to eat). Every person NEEDS to eat every day while most people can go years without devastating medical bills just by good luck and healthy living (which, by the way, is the only reason the GOP can drum up so much anti-Obamacare sentiment - most people haven't been screwed by the system yet so Obamacare seems unnecessary in their eyes).

    Giving Monsanto or an Oligarchy of mega-corporations this kind of power will have natural consequences for all of us. I'm not saying the Monsanto or any other GM crop related company is inherently evil. It's just that the structure of our economic system leads large publicly listed companies to behave this way. Hence the universal and timeless need for regulation and oversight. Allowing companies to possess too much power or to be "too big to fail" is a failure of corporate sponsored representative democracy.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 15, 2012 @04:55PM (#40339273)
    If the seeds from my neighbor's tree lands on my property, and I sell the seedlings from those, do I owe my neighbor anything? Does it matter if I pick them up off the ground on my property and actively plant them? If you can stay on your property, never leaving it, and get sued for what amounts to theft, then there's a problem with the law or the expectations of the plaintiff (or both)

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