In the next few weeks a 75 year old soybean farmer will face off with Monsanto in front of the US supreme court. This lawsuit has been filed on Bowman’s behalf by sustainable food and farming organizations, the Center for Food Safety and Save Our Seeds. Mr. Bowman farms the land his father farmed in rural south-western Indiana for over 4 decades and has refused to settle with Monsanto after being accused of planting Monsanto seeds without paying for the privilege. Sort of sounds like paying for protection doesn’t it?
Monsanto Scatters Their Own Seeds
We have seen cases of Monsanto accusing farmers of planting their GM seeds and not paying the huge patent fees. Sometimes this happens simply because the seeds are blown on the wind from neighboring fields (or, it’s been intimated that Monsanto purposely sends trucks to drive past the land and scatter the seeds). The farmer is accused and sued by Monsanto.
In this business model, farmers cannot practice the prudent and age old tradition of seed saving. This forces them to purchase new Monsanto seeds each year. The company has filed lawsuits around the country to enforce its policy against saving the seeds for the future. Who let this happen?
The Right To Buy Seeds
Bowman claims he has the right to buy “junk grain” from local grain elevators for a second planting. Monsanto claims that they maintain patent rights on the GM seeds even if sold by a third party with no restrictions put on its use – even if the seeds are not even the original Monsanto GM seeds, but descendents.
Monsanto has sued Bowman for $84,456 and won. Bowman has now appealed all the way to the supreme court. he said,
I made up my mind to fight it until I could not fight it anymore… I thought: I am not going to play dead.
Who Controls the Right to Seeds Planted in the Ground
This is essentially the issue of modern farming today. Does a company who has invested billions of dollars in research and development get to dictate and control farmers by not allowing them to save seed?
Monsanto insists that fully protecting patent rights is vital to preserve a commercial incentive to develop and refine new products with innovative biotechnology.
Farm Groups to Examine Modern Seed Industry
Center for Food Safety Executive Director, Andrew Kimbrell said.
Mr. Bowman’s case represents a systemic crisis in US agriculture… through a patenting system that favors the rights of corporations over the rights of farmers and citizens, our food and farming system is being held hostage by a handful of companies. Nothing less than the future of food is at stake.
The Center for Food Safety and Save Our Seeds will release a joint report examining the modern seeds industry. These groups believe that a victory for Bowman could open up the seed industry as a common resource, not a commercial enterprise.
Three Huge Corporations Control Seeds
This could be a huge win for all farmers. As it is, there are only 3 companies that control more than 50% of the global seed market. They are interested in preserving their patent rights, but also in their lucrative business model that requires farmers to agree to not save seeds.
Clearly Monsanto is unsupportive of even their conventional farmers like Bowman. Monsanto is focused on preserving their business model for an obvious reason.
In A Perfect World
In a perfect world we could get rid of Monsanto and the other companies like it, who claim to be feeding the world, when, in fact, they are destroying the earth, the soil and our heritage of seeds. We need to nurture small farmers who use heirloom seeds that have not been contaminated with genetic engineering.
Since it is not a perfect world, and since Monsanto recently bought up Seminis, the largest fruit and vegetable seed company, home gardeners need to be super careful about where to purchase the seeds for their gardens.
Read this very informative article at The Healthy Home Economist for more information about how to ensure that you do not buy seeds from a company associated with Monsanto.
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