Tag Archives | Monsanto
Jill Richardson writes at AlterNet:
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On Feb. 19, 2013, the Supreme Court heard yet another Monsanto case. (And yet again, Justice Clarence Thomas, former lawyer for Monsanto, did not recuse himself.) This time around, it was Monsanto vs. Vernon Hugh Bowman, an Indiana soybean and wheat farmer.
The issue in question is a familiar one for those who follow the issue of genetically engineered seeds. Each buyer of Monsanto’s patented seeds must sign a “Technology Agreement” and pay a technology fee. In the case of soybeans, soybeans themselves are seeds. A farmer who plants Monsanto’s patented soybean seeds will grow a crop of soybeans, which are themselves also seeds. The Technology Agreement prohibits the farmer from saving and replanting those seeds. It also forbids the buyer from doing research on Monsanto’s patented seeds.
In some cases, Monsanto licenses its genetically engineered seeds to other seed companies, like Pioneer (owned by DuPont).
Is the big, bad monster of biotech going to back off its aggressive litigation to force farmers to join their evil empire of GMO seeds? Maybe… Report via NPR:
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For years, the biotech giant Monsanto has provoked outrage among its critics for suing farmers who save and replant seeds from the company’s patented Roundup Ready crops, such as soybeans and canola.
Some of that outrage is based on a decade-old case in Canada, in which a court ruled that a farmer, Percy Schmeiser, violated Monsanto’s patents by planting canola that he “knew or ought to have known” contained Monsanto’s Roundup Ready gene. Schmeiser argued that he didn’t want the gene in his fields, and that it had become incorporated into his canola via wind-blown pollen.
Monsanto won that case, but the company might have been better off losing because the victory has been a public relations disaster. Around the world, many people now believe, mistakenly, that Monsanto is suing farmers for growing patented seeds that wandered into their fields without the farmers’ knowledge and against their will.
Monsanto demands that anyone who plants a seed containing the its patented herbicide-resisting genes pay steep “technology fees.” The problem is that Monsanto’s plants amount to self-replicating patent machines, as the Monsanto-created genes spread through the ecosystem. NPR reports:
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This farmer, Vernon Hugh Bowman, has been a loyal customer for Monsanto’s “Roundup Ready” soybeans. Sometimes he bought ordinary soybeans from the local grain elevator or another farmer.
But here’s the problem: Monsanto’s soybeans account for 94 percent of all the soybeans grown in Indiana. So almost all the soybeans that Bowman could get his hands on contained the patented “Roundup Ready” gene. Monsanto found out and took Bowman to court [where he was ordered] to pay $84,000. An appeals court affirmed that decision.
The arguments and counter-arguments that both sides have submitted to the Supreme Court mostly focus on the reach of Monsanto’s patents — specifically, whether Monsanto really can demand a royalty for the planting of any soybean containing its patented genes.
It might be grandstanding by the Russians, but the issue of Roundup being carcinogenic is nonetheless alarming. From The Register:
Monsanto’s GM corn, the centre of a storm inspired by the now-notorious French “rat tumours” study, has been banned from Russia following a decision by consumer rights regulator Rospotrebnadzor.
The ban is more symbolic than anything else: Russia doesn’t allow its farmers to plant GM corn, and is a net exporter of grains.
According to TV-Novosti site RT, Rospotrebnadzor has asked Russia’s Institute of Nutrition to review the French study, which claimed that rats developed large tumours either when exposed to the “Roundup-resistant” crop or to concentrations of Roundup in their water as low as .1 parts per billion.
According to Bloomberg, Russia had already asked the European Commission to comment on the study.
The European Food Safety Authority expects to have a preliminary review of the study completed by next week…
[continues at The Register]
At prices this low, how could you expect the food not to be laced with insecticide? Russia Today reports:
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America’s largest bio-agriculture company and the biggest retailer in the country are joining forces. Walmart will soon be stocking their shelves with GMO corn made by Monsanto.
The retail giant says they won’t advertise which of their products are made with genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, which could become a big problem very soon. Zack Kaldveer explains in an editorial published by the California Progress Report this month that Walmart will soon sell a special factory-made corn manufactured by Monsanto, which while it will allow most of Americans more easy access to affordable food, will also fill them with unknown insecticides: the very GMO crop Walmart will be selling has been genetically engineered to include chemicals right inside the corn.
Voters in California will decide later this year if retailers on the West Coast will be legally bound to correctly label all foodstuffs sold in shopping centers that are made from genetically modified foods.
Tom Philpott brings the bad news to Mother Jones:
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The so-called “Big Six” agrichemical companies—Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow Agrosciences, BASF, Bayer, and Pioneer (DuPont)—are sitting pretty. Together, they control nearly 70 percent of the global pesticide market, and essentially the entire market for genetically modified seeds. Prices of the crops they focus on—corn, soy, cotton, etc.—are soaring, pushed up by severe drought in key growing regions. Higher crop prices typically translate to increased pesticide sales as farmers have more money to spend on agrichemicals and more incentive to maximize yield.
The companies operate globally—and have gained a stronghold in that emerging center of industrial agriculture, Brazil—but the biotech-friendly US is their profit center. They’ve got a big chunk of US agriculture pretty well sewn up—their GMO seeds dominate our corn, soy and cotton crops, which account for more than 53 percent of US farmland, and have won approval for GMO alfalfa (hay), which accounts for another 19 percent.