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The Courts Science

Monsanto Takes Home $23m From Small Farmers According To Report 419

An anonymous reader writes "Seed giant Monsanto has won more than $23 million from hundreds of small farmers accused of replanting the company's genetically engineered seeds. Now, another case is looming – and it could set a landmark precedent for the future of seed ownership. From the article: 'According to the report, Monsanto has alleged seed patent infringement in 144 lawsuits against 410 farmers and 56 small farm businesses in at least 27 U.S. states as of January of 2013. Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta together hold 53 percent of the global commercial seed market, which the report says has led to price increases for seeds -- between 1995 and 2011, the average cost of planting one acre of soybeans rose 325 percent and corn seed prices went up 259 percent.'"
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Monsanto Takes Home $23m From Small Farmers According To Report

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  • What can we DO? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by anthony_greer ( 2623521 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @08:11PM (#42890095)

    I am sure most people are aware of and angry about monsanto's practices and products, but I am tired of just being angry and talking to my friends who all agree...what can we do about it? Even the progressive wonderland of Ca cant get a simple GMO labling law passed, is there anything anyone can DO to change it?

    Letters to Congress - HAH, they are paid for already.
    Stop buying their product - Cant, no way to tell what it is in...
    Go Organic: and pay $15 / Lb for fruit at Whole Paycheck, er uh Foods? no thanks...

    So what can we DO?

  • Re:What can we DO? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GodfatherofSoul ( 174979 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @08:37PM (#42890401)

    I live in Kansas and I for one have very little sympathy for these farmers. They hoist these corporations up on their shoulders and carry them to Washington to turn around and stiff their communities. Small towns all over the Midwest are evaporating because the citizens are inexplicably voting to peel back all of the liberal reforms from the Great Depression that protected their livelihoods. Now, all their kids are fleeing to the cities without the slightest notion of returning. There are small towns where the largest source of income is Social Security!

  • Re:What can we DO? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by femtobyte ( 710429 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @08:44PM (#42890455)

    Blaming this specifically on GMOs is a bit of a stretch. The issue is more that, while both Europe and the US control their food supplies through massive government subsidies, the US subsidies are strongly focused on supporting pure corn/soy monocultures (instead of subsidizing the broad variety of regional products necessary to support healthy diets). GMOs do contribute to this cycle, by making it easier than ever to produce huge volumes of a very limited number of crops (instead of supporting a slightly lower volume but more varied food supply).

  • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) * on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @09:37PM (#42890959)

    If "something growing alone by itself" is the same as you building it in your house :-)

    But GMO crops didn't just "grow alone" by themselves. The infringing farmers took concerted action, over several years, to isolate and propagate the seeds, and then benefited from the patented gene by spraying their fields with glyphosate. That is something that someone who believed they had non-GMO seeds would not do, because it would kill their crop. .

  • by asamad ( 658115 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @10:25PM (#42891409)

    Monsanto has sued neighbour farmers who never intentionally sowed their crop, sowed by accident .. ie the wind blew over the seeds. Thats the sucky bit... if anything the farmer should sue monsanto for letting its seeds land in their fields

  • by dbc ( 135354 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @11:05PM (#42891717)

    Citation? How about looking at the crop yields from the Iowa farm my great-grandfather homesteaded. The citation is my brother's income tax return, he manages the farm now. Or the yields being produced by the tenants on my father-in-law's Minnesota farm. Next question?

    And let me educate you on the food chain. Yellow corn is a feed grain, not a food grain. You don't eat it. It is eaten by the animals that you eat.

    I agree chemical over-use is a problem. I'm more concerned about chemicals in the ground water and run-off. As far as that goes, borer-resistant maize allows a reduction in pesticide application for the control of borers. Another valid concern with GMO varieties is the creation of 'super-pests' that evolve immunity to GMO features. Iowa, at least, requires you to plant 20% "refuge rows" -- that is 20% of every field planted to, say, a borer-resistant variety, must be planted with a non-resistant variety so that the borer moths don't evolve immunity. Who came up with the 20% number, I don't know, I sure has heck hope it is right. If you're going to worry about something, worry about something real, not something made up.

    And I don't defend Monsanto. Just trying to inject a few facts into the discussion. GMO crop seeds do make business sense to the farmers, or they would not be used. Do you honestly believe that people that run a business involving a multi-million dollar capital investment can't do the math?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @11:59PM (#42892081)

    You will however find plenty of cases where they settle out of court.

    It's easier then risking a loss.

  • by chrismcb ( 983081 ) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @03:21AM (#42893109) Homepage

    The infringing farmers took concerted action, over several years, to isolate and propagate the seeds, and then benefited from the patented gene by spraying their fields with glyphosate.

    Since it isn't mentioned in either of TFAs I'll take your word for it. But I don't believe the issue is that they had or didn't have a strain of Monsato's designed food. The question is, who owns the second generation of seeds?
    They way I understand it, you patent a process. I'm pretty sure Monsato didn't patent farming, and growing. So what process did these farmers break?

  • by buss_error ( 142273 ) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @07:14AM (#42894051) Homepage Journal

    I own a farm. I do not buy seed from Monsanto. Never have. I refuse to on moral grounds. Yet I am sued by Monsanto every 2 to 4 years. Their "inspectors" trespass on my property, collect samples from 50 to 200 plants, and if only ONE has their GMO dna, I get sued. The farmer next to me buys exclusively Monsanto seed.

    You figure it out. I have.

    In the near future, anyone found on my property that doesn't have permission to be there... well, it won't be pretty.

  • by Jeffrey_Walsh VA ( 1335967 ) on Thursday February 14, 2013 @09:44AM (#42894939)
    I don't have references but I saw a documentary film about this. The film makers may have distorted but it seemed plausible and a number of farmers affected went on camera stating clearly what their experience was. The film illustrated how Monsanto was careful not to bring to suit most cases where the evidence was not strong enough, but they harassed and intimidated farmers, coercing settlement money. They made the point that many more farmers were forced to pay money to Monsanto without a suit being filed, than cases filed in court.

In the realm of scientific observation, luck is granted only to those who are prepared. - Louis Pasteur