Monday, June 17, 2013

So Sue Me

Okay, so I admit I’m going for the low hanging fruit. These are also what the major anti-GMO organizations spend a lot of time on, so I’m going for what is out there. The statements I want to address this time are the ones like these,

Monsanto “has sued more than 400 farmers over the last 13 years.”
“Biotech Goliath Monsanto is well-known for its litigious tendencies among farmers, having sued hundreds of them over the years to the tune of over 23 million dollars.”
In its report, called Seed Giants vs US Farmers, the Center for Food Safety said it had tracked numerous law suits that Monsanto had brought against farmers and found some 142 patent infringement suits against 410 farmers and 56 small businesses in more than 27 states. In total the firm has won more than $23m from its targets, the report said.”

This is a really easy one because the data is not refuted. If you go to Monsanto’s own statement you find they say they have filed 145 cases. What they also say, and what I have never seen in any other article, is that only 9 cases have gone through to full trial. They also mention they have over 275,000 customers. Most of them apparently understand what they are buying and do not have a problem with it.

If you put “Monsanto sues farmers” into a search engine, you will get a large number of hits, but notice that the majority are about farmers attempting to sue Monsanto. They sue for the protection to not be sued and they sue for contamination of their organic fields. These cases are usually thrown out.I have never heard of an instance of anything other than isolated fields being contaminated up to 1 or 2 percent by GMO varieties. It is eradicated by simply plowing it under.

It has never been, nor will it be Monsanto policy to exercise its patent rights where trace amounts of our patented seed or traits are present in farmer's fields as a result of inadvertent means.

When they do win a case, the evidence shows that the farmer knew what they were doing and knew they were attempting to scam the system. In the recent case of Bowman vs Monsanto, the farmer purchased GMO seed via a loophole in the law. The seed he purchased was intended for feed, but he suspected it would contain herbicide resistant GMO seed. He continued this practice for 8 years and cross bred plants that had the traits he wanted.

The Monsanto statement also includes declarations that should be framing this debate.

The vast majority of farmers understand and appreciate our research and are willing to pay for our inventions and the value they provide.
This statement gives anyone the opportunity to respond. It is a falsifiable statement. If it is not true, it should be possible to show that it is not true. I have seen nothing but hand waving to refute it.

Percy Schmeiser’s case is a little more cut and dry, but you wouldn’t know that from any of his attempts at self-promotion. If you watch just about any anti-GMO documentary, like Genetic Roulette, you will likely hear of his case. What you won’t hear are the findings during the court trail that he discovered a small patch of RoundUp Ready Canola that had found its way onto his land and he directed a farmhand to harvest it and save the seeds separately. He then used that seed to increase the amount of herbicide resistant Canola in his fields. When he got caught, he claimed ignorance. Really?

This is publicly available information, given under oath and kept in official government records. There is no excuse for not including it when retelling this story or for not being aware of it. Anyone who tells the story or any story about Monsanto being out to get farmers and enforce patents on all farmers and all of nature should be held in very high suspicion. If their source is one of those documentaries, they can be forgiven, once.

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