GE assault on farmers

Sound Consumer | February 2005

by Trudy Bialic, Editor

Barn in a field

(February 2005) — A new report from the Center for Food Safety reveals a methodical assault on United States farmers to control the seed supply. The report, called Monsanto vs. U.S. Farmers, says the biotech firm, Monsanto, has filed 90 lawsuits in 25 states that involve 147 farmers and 39 small businesses or farm companies. Monsanto, it says, has set aside “an annual budget of $10 million and a staff of 75 devoted solely to investigating and prosecuting farmers.”

The Center for Food Safety (CFS) is a non-profit organization dedicated to challenging harmful food technologies and promoting sustainable alternatives. CFS Legal Director, Joseph Mendelson, says, “Monsanto would like nothing more than to be the sole source for staple crop seeds in this country and around the world.” He says it’s using lawsuits to achieve this goal.

The lawsuits rely on patent law that conveys ownership of life forms, such as seeds, to Monsanto and other biotech firms. Farmers have been sued 1) after their fields were contaminated by genetically engineered (GE) pollen or seed from genetic drift via wind, birds or animals, 2) when GE “volunteers” sprout the following season in fields once planted with GE seeds, or, 3) when the farmers planted patented seeds but never signed Monsanto’s technology agreement.

CFS Executive Director Andrew Kimbrell says, “Monsanto is polluting American farms with its genetically engineered crops, not properly informing farmers about these altered seeds, and then profiting from its own irresponsibility and negligence by suing innocent farmers.”

CFS says farmers paid a mean of $412,259, but many have to pay additional court and attorney fees, and sometimes are forced to pay the costs Monsanto incurs while investigating the farmers. The largest recorded judgment against a farmer is reported to be $3,052,800, while total judgments amount to a reported $15,253,602.82.

CFS advocates passing local bans on GE crops and amending the patent law.

You can read the report at www.centerforfoodsafety.org/Monsantovsusfarmersreport.cfm. For further reading, visit Issues and Education, Genetically Modified Food Crops.

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