Monsanto Is Not Evil Starter Kit

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If you actually do some real research instead of passing along internet hearsay, you may be surprised how many of Monsanto's supposed sins turn out to be untrue or poorly understood.

Terminator Seed: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_use_restriction_technology

Hybrid seeds aren't saved for replanting either: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hybrid_seed

There has been patent protection for plant breeders in the US since 1930: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plant_breeders%27_rights

Current non-GMO, non-hybrid seeds have restrictions on their use as well. They can be saved by the farmer to replant but not resold for planting: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plant_Variety_Protection_Act_of_1970

Most farmer's don't find the Monsanto stewardship agreement onerous: http://thefarmerslife.com/biotechnology/i-occupy-our-food-supply-everyday/

Farmer's have more choice in seed than a lot of city folk realize. Here's one, but google around, find some seed catalogues, you'd be surprised: http://www.moews.com/

If you believe that Monsanto is evil because it sues innocent farmers you got probably started on that with the stories of Moe Parr, Percy Schmeiser and/or Vernon Bowman. Those are the big headline stories in various documentaries.

Percy Schmeiser knew damn well he was trying to pull a fast one when he saved RR canola to replant. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Percy_Schmeiser

Moe Parr was a seed cleaner who intentionally deceived his customers into believing that it was OK for them to save RR soybeans in violation of their agreements with the company. Read the injunction against him, it's easily read in a few minutes, he's no hero: http://www.fr.com/files/uploads/publications/DSU-Medical-Corp-v-JMS-Co-Ltd/Monsanto_v_Parr_NDIN_4-07-cv-00008_Apr_22_2008.pdf [pdf]

The most recent headline case was Vernon Bowman. He bought soybeans from an elevator that could legally sell soybeans for feed but not for planting and planted them for a late season second planting, thinking he had found a loophole, he started saving the RR seeds. He had been using RR seeds under agreement for his first planting so he knew damn well what how the patent agreement worked. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bowman_v._Monsanto_Co.

Farmer Suicides in India: Monsanto doesn't hold a patent on Bt Cotton seeds in India. Farmers there found pirated seed so useful, that a grassroots, underground economy of Bt cotton breeding sprang up spontaneously before the crop had even been approved by the government. It forced the government's hand and Bt cotton was approved because of grassroots pressure from small farmers. Playing God? Monsters, Miracles, and the Politics of Genetic Engineering

The role of Bt cotton in farmer suicides in India has been thoroughly debunked. In fact if you read the original report where the allegation arose with a clear eye, it seems like a gratuitous swipe piled on top of real hurdles that farmers there face in regards to lack of access to credit and a proper system of crop insurance. Not surprising that the government started blaming seed companies. http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/01/26/the-myth-of-indias-gm-genocide-genetically-modified-cotton-blamed-for-wave-of-farmer-suicides/

What I haven't been able to find clear, credible info on is the legal standing of the licensing agreements Monsanto/Mahayco and the 28 seed companies that they worked with. If there is no patent, how did they gain control of the market after the initial wave of entrepreneurial breeding?

It also hard to get a handle on exactly how hardball Monsanto's surveillance and legal strategy is with seed saving farmers, elevators and cleaners. The description of what happened to Gary Rinehart in Bartlett and Steele's account is substantially different from the company's account. The facts don't seem to diverge in the company's account of the Pilot Grove affair but the company's legal strategy seems pretty ruthless in B&S's account http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/05/monsanto200805 http://www.monsanto.com/newsviews/Pages/gary-rinehart.aspx http://www.monsanto.com/newsviews/Pages/pilot-grove-coop.aspx

In context though was are talking about 140 something legal cases over two decades out of a quarter million patent agreement signing customers a year. With 11 cases gone to trial, all of which were won by Monsanto. The wrongly aggrieved farmer has yet to surface.


My central point here, is that for the world's most reviled company, I can't find credible, hard evidence of significant wrong doing that's more recent than 20 years ago, and all of the cases and issues that Monsanto's detractors raise turn out to be either flat out wrong or much less a big deal than you've been led to believe. Sometimes you have to hit the reset button on your impressions.