Monsanto vs farmer over seed saving

From Charlotte Silver, on Aljazeera:

“During last week’s oral testimonies before the United States Supreme Court, a 75-year-old soybean farmer from Indiana faced down Monsanto, as he challenged the biotech giant’s aggressive and frequently criticised pursuit of patent infringement cases.

According to court reports, the panel of judges was less than amenable to farmer Vernon Hugh Bowman’s argument that the purview of Monsanto’s patent ends once its seeds have yielded their first generation of a crop.

Monsanto sees it differently, arguing that it must be able to prevent farmers from using seeds obtained from subsequent generations of plants.

That the Supreme Court would resist Bowman’s argument should come as no surprise. After all it was the Supreme Court that, in 1985, granted seed companies the right to limit farmers’ ability to save the seeds the companies had patented.

Chief Justice John Roberts Jr impressed upon the court his predisposition toward the case when he asked the following question: …”

More on Aljazeera.

New York Times coverage from Andrew Pollack:

With his mere 300 acres of soybeans, corn and wheat, Vernon Hugh Bowman said, “I’m not even big enough to be called a farmer.”

Yet the 75-year-old farmer from southwestern Indiana will face off Tuesday against the world’s largest seed company, Monsanto, in a Supreme Court case that could have a huge impact on the future of genetically modified crops, and also affect other fields from medical research to software.

At stake in Mr. Bowman’s case is whether patents on seeds — or other things that can self-replicate — extend beyond the first generation of the products.

More in the New York Times.

This same story was also covered by the Guardian, UK.

And in other Monsanto new, here’s a report from Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, at Global Research:

Polluted America: GMO Manmade Biological Threats, Plant Diseases, Germ Warfare

On January 17, 2011, Dr. Don Huber outlined the dangers of approving Roundup Ready alfalfa in a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack. Huber requested that approval be delayed until independent research could evaluate the risks. Vilsack  ignored the letter and accommodated Monsanto’s desire for monopoly profits that come from the company’s drive to control the seed supply of US and world agriculture by approving Roundup Ready alfalfa.

Who is Don Huber, and why is his letter important?

Huber is professor emeritus at Purdue University. He has been a plant pathologist and soil microbiologist for a half century. He has an international reputation as a leading authority. In the US military, he evaluated natural and manmade biological threats, such as germ warfare and disease outbreaks and retired with the rank of Colonel. For the USDA he coordinates the Emergent Diseases and Pathogens Committee. In other words, he is high up in his scientific profession.

You can read online what Huber told the Secretary of Agriculture.  Briefly, the outcome of many years of Roundup Ready GMO corn and soybeans has been a decline in nutritional value, the outbreak of new plant diseases resulting in widespread crop failures, and severe reproductive problems in livestock, with some herds having a spontaneous abortion rate that is too high to maintain a profitable business.

Glyphosate is a powerful biocide. It harms beneficial soil organisms, altering the natural balance in the soil and reducing the disease resistance of crops, thus unleashing diseases that devastate corn, soybean, and wheat crops, and giving rise to a new pathogen associated with premature animal aging and infertility.  These developments, Huber told the Agriculture Secretary, “are threatening the economic viability of both crop and animal producers.”  The evidence seems to be real that genetically modified crops have lost their genetic resistance to diseases that never previously were threats.

There is evidence that the new pathogen is related to a rise in human infertility and is likely having adverse effects on human health of which we are still uninformed. Like fluoride, glyphosate might enter our diet in a variety of ways. For example, the label on a bottle of Vitamin D says, “Other ingredients: soybean oil, corn oil.”

Monsanto disputes Huber’s claims and got support for its position from the agricultural extension services of Iowa State and Ohio State universities. However, the question is whether these are independently funded services or corporate supported, and there is always the element of professional rivalry, especially for funding, which comes mainly from agribusiness….”

Read more on Global Research.



Filed under News

2 responses to “Monsanto vs farmer over seed saving

  1. Gary Wilson

    We are so concerned with manmade biological threats. We are so unconcerned with the greatest biological threat, declining soil fertility.
    Before GMO’s, declining soil fertility was causing a decline in nutritional values, outbreaks of diseases in plants resulting in crop failures and severe reproductive problems in livestock.
    Plants are resistant to disease or become diseased according to the soil fertility they grow in. Creating disease resistance in plants is an ineffective method of dealing with plant diseases. While visiting an apple orchard, I noticed some young disease resistant apple trees were diseased. When I pointed out these trees were diseased, the grower stated that the disease they had was not the disease they were resistant to. I laughed out loud.
    Of course studies from “independent” researchers in universities will always support the corporations that fund their studies. The number one need of the researchers is to be funded for more studies, regardless whether the study itself is of any value. Being critical in a study of the product the corporation is trying to market is not only bad for receiving funding again from that corporation but it is also bad for receiving any funding from any corporation in the future thus leading to a search for a job in some other line of work. I am sure researchers love to conclude at the completion of any study, as they so often do, that more research needs to be done.
    GMO’s, like hybrids before them, are symptomatic treatment for problems created by declining soil fertility. Symptomatic treatment is the money maker. The only thing, money wise, worse than a cure is prevention.
    If you want to eliminate the use of GMO’s, just learn how to increase soil fertility to at least the point that there are no disease, insect or weed problems and then there will be no need to use GMO’s. In attaining that goal you will be surprised to find that nutritional values have increased and reproductive problems in livestock will have disappeared.

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