Stephen Cook: Agricultural giant Monsanto hasn’t given up on it’s GM (genetically-modified) trail of destruction. But the tide is turning as people everywhere wake up to the company’s lack of ethics and environmental empathy.
Here are two stories – one, a local story from the US, and the other from Brazil, where Monsanto may lose billions of dollars – which show how people are refusing to succumb to Monsanto’s insidious threats and intimidation. Plus, the Brazil article includes information on France and India’s battle with the company as well as more information on the illnesses and contamination Monsanto is responsible for.
All this, as the company’s own website continues to claim: ” We apply innovation and technology to help farmers around the world produce more while conserving more. We help farmers grow yield sustainably so they can be successful, produce healthier foods, better animal feeds and more fiber, while also reducing agriculture’s impact on our environment.” I’ll let you judge for yourself.
Story 1: US – American Farmers Fight Monsanto’s Scorched Earth Legal Campaign of Threats and Intimidation
Thanks to Taylor
By Actvist Post – July 6, 2012
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Seventy-five family farmers, seed businesses, and agricultural organizations representing over 300,000 individuals and 4,500 farms filed a brief Thursday, July 5 with the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington D.C. asking the appellate court to reverse a lower court’s decision from February dismissing their protective legal action against agricultural giant Monsanto’s patents on genetically engineered seed.
The plaintiffs brought the pre-emptive case against Monsanto in March 2011 in the Southern District of New York and specifically seek to defend themselves from nearly two dozen of Monsanto’s most aggressively asserted patents on GMO seed. They were forced to act pre-emptively to protect themselves from Monsanto’s abusive lawsuits, fearing that if GMO seed contaminates their property despite their efforts to prevent such contamination, Monsanto will sue them for patent infringement.
“It’s time to end Monsanto’s scorched earth legal campaign of threats and intimidation against America’s farmers. Family farmers should be protected by the courts against the unwanted genetic contamination of their crops,” said Dave Murphy, founder and executive director of Food Democracy Now!, a grassroots community of more than 300,000 farmers and citizens dedicated to reforming food and agriculture, that is co-plaintiff in the suit.
In an attempt to sidestep the challenge, Monsanto moved to have the case dismissed, saying that the plaintiffs’ concerns were unrealistic. In February 2012, the district court took Monsanto’s side and dismissed the case, ridiculing the farmers in the process.
Despite the fact that the plaintiffs are at risk for being contaminated by genetically modified seed and then sued for patent infringement by Monsanto, Judge Naomi Buchwald of the Southern District of New York dismissed the case because she didn’t find a case worthy of adjudication, saying “it is clear that these circumstances do not amount to a substantial controversy and that there has been no injury traceable to defendants.
Every year Monsanto investigates over 500 farmers for patent infringement with their now notorious “seed police”. To date, 144 farmers have had lawsuits brought against them by Monsanto without a binding contract with the multinational corporation, while another 700 farmers have been forced to settle out of court for undisclosed sums.
“Monsanto is known for bullying farmers by making baseless accusations of patent infringement,” said attorney Dan Ravicher of the not-for-profit legal services organization Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT), which represents the plaintiffs in the suit against Monsanto known as Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association et al. v Monsanto.
“They’ve sued and harassed many other farmers who wanted nothing to do with their genetically modified seed and now that organic and conventional farmers are fighting back, they claim they would never do such a thing without backing up their words with an enforceable promise.”
Nature has determined that seed and pollen can drift great distances, in some cases as far as 10-15 miles, increasing the likelihood of contamination of organic crops with genetics from Monsanto’s laboratories. These seeds and crops are referred to as “transgenic” seed that has had DNA of foreign organisms inserted into its DNA through human engineered processes. Plaintiffs use and sell nontransgenic seed, more commonly referred to as heirloom, organic, or conventional seed.
“We have a right to farm the way we choose,” said Maine organic seed farmer Jim Gerritsen, President of lead plaintiff Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA). “Yet Monsanto is unwilling to control their GMO pollution and they refuse to sign a binding covenant not-to-sue our family farmers for patent infringement should their seed contaminate our crops.
Monsanto’s publicized ‘Commitment’ promising that they would not sue farmers was described by Monsanto’s own lawyers as being ‘vague.’ The law says we deserve protection under the Declaratory Judgment Act. We will continue to pursue our right to farm, and the right of our customers to have access to good clean food and seed.”
Some plaintiffs have simply stopped growing certain types of crops due to the threat of contamination. Bryce Stephens, a certified organic farmer from northwest Kansas, had to give up on trying to grow organic corn and soy once his neighbors started using Monsanto’s genetically modified seed because it could easily spread onto his property and contaminate his organic crops, which would put him at risk of being sued for patent infringement by Monsanto.
In the brief filed today, the plaintiffs point out numerous errors in the district court decision that warrant reversal.
Murphy went on to state, “No company should be allowed to violate the property rights of America’s farmers or threaten their livelihoods through the use of frivolous patent infringement lawsuits designed to control farmers and the food supply, while protecting Monsanto’s flawed seed technology and corporate profits.”
To read the rest of this article go here: http://www.activistpost.com/2012/07/americas-farmers-fight-monsantos.html
Story 2: Brazil – Monsanto May Lose Billions in Brazil Over “Monsanto Tax”
Thanks to Beverley
By Dr. Mercola – July 7, 2012
Brazil, the second-largest producer of genetically modified (GM) crops (after the U.S.), is the latest country to take a stand against biotech giant Monsanto, which could end up handing over at least $2 billion as a result.
A war has been waging against Monsanto in Brazil for nearly a decade, virtually ever since the country legalized farming of GM crops in 2005.
Since then, Monsanto has been charging Brazilian farmers double – once for their seeds, and again when they sell their crops.
Farmers Have Had Enough With Monsanto’s Royalty Taxes and Penalties
In case you’re wondering how Monsanto has risen to the ranks of a superpower, a major reason is their patent on GM seeds, like the GM soya seeds in Brazil, which account for nearly 85 percent of the country’s total soybean crop. Each GM seed is patented and sold under exclusive rights.
Therefore, farmers must purchase the GM seeds every year, because saving seeds (which has long been the traditional way) is considered to be patent infringement. Anyone who does save GM seeds must pay a license fee to actually re-sow them.
But that’s not all.
In Brazil, Monsanto has charged farmers a 2 percent royalty fee on all of their Roundup Ready sales since 2005! And, they test all of the soy seeds marketed as “non-GM” to be sure they don’t contain any Monsanto seeds. If they are found to contain the patented seeds, the farmer is penalized close to 3 percent of his sales!
The issue with the latter penalty is that GM soy is very hard to contain, and often contaminates nearby fields. So farmers are forced to pay a penalty for having their fields contaminated with GM crops, through no fault of their own – and likely against their wishes entirely!
For years now, farmers have been taking Monsanto to court over their excessive fees and taxes, and in 2009, a group of farmers sued the company, claiming the Monsanto tax was illegal because it was impossible to keep the GM seeds away from the non-GM varieties.
A judge ruled that the tax was illegal, especially since the patents on Roundup Ready seeds in Brazil already expired. Monsanto was ordered to stop collecting all royalties … and to return all the royalties collected since 2004 – an amount that could add up to a minimum of $2 billion!
Monsanto appealed, but in June 2012 the Supreme Court dismissed it, so it looks like Monsanto is going to be getting their just deserts.
France, India Also Find Monsanto Guilty
Earlier this year, a French court found Monsanto guilty of chemical poisoning in a case involving a French farmer, who suffered neurological problems after exposure to Monsanto’s Lasso weed killer. A few years before that, a French court again found Monsanto guilty, this time of falsely advertising its Roundup herbicide as “biodegradable,” “environmentally friendly” and claiming it “left the soil clean.”
France has also recently asked the European Commission to suspend Monsanto’s authorization to plant genetically modified MON 810 corn, citing “significant risks for the environment” shown in recent scientific studies (Germany has also banned the cultivation of MON 810 corn).
Meanwhile, India’s National Biodiversity Authority (NBA), a government agency, is suing Monsanto and their collaborators, the Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company, for stealing local varieties of eggplant to develop a genetically modified version.
India requires that any entity attempting to use a native plant for commercial or research purposes must first get approval; Monsanto, however, neglected to do this, opting instead to essentially steal the native plants in order to modify them for their own commercial gain
The case marks the first time a government has accused Monsanto of biopiracy, and the results could set an important precedent for the future of the food supply.
Monsanto Involved in Lawsuits Over Mass Contamination, Illnesses
Monsanto is also facing a class-action lawsuit involving tens of thousands of residents from Nitro, West Virginia, where a Monsanto chemical plant produced the herbicide 2,4,5-T, a component of Agent Orange; the suit alleges the company spread toxic substances, primarily carcinogenic dioxins, all over the city.
And in Anniston, Alabama, a Monsanto plant produced toxic chemicals called PCBs, polychlorinated biphenyls, from 1929 until 1971, and they heavily contaminated soil and waterways in the area. Even though PCBs were banned in the United States in the late 1970s, they persist in the environment for decades and possibly even for centuries. In other words, almost all of the toxic PCBs that Monsanto released are still there.
Class-action lawsuits – to the tune of $600 million – were settled and paid, and an additional $100 million went toward cleanup, but still area residents are struggling with health issues as a result. Recently, research revealed that Anniston residents, who are one of the most highly exposed populations to PCBs in the world, have a significantly higher rate of diabetes, for instance.i
It’s No Secret: Monsanto’s Behavior is Unconscionable
The cat is out of the bag, so to speak, and it is now becoming common knowledge why Monsanto is top on list of immoral and destructive corporations. City Watch recently put together a tidy list of some of the “highlights” of Monsanto’s controversial past:ii
•“Contributed to the research on uranium, for the Manhattan Project, during WWII.
•Operated a nuclear facility for the U.S. government until the late 1980s.
•Top manufacturer of synthetic fibers, plastics and polystyrene (EPA’s 5th ranked chemical production that generates the most hazardous waste).
•A top 10 US chemical company.
•Agriculture pesticides producer.
•Herbicide producer – herbicides 2,4,5-T, Agent Orange, Lasso, and DDT.
•Agent Orange (used in Vietnam), had the highest levels of dioxin and contaminated more than 3 million civilians and servicemen of which only partial compensation awarded.
•Nearly 500,000 Vietnamese children were born deformed and never compensated.
•Lasso was banned in USA, so weed killer “Roundup” is launched in 1976.
•A major producer of both dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which generated many law suits and environmental cleanups
•$180 million settlement for Vietnam War veterans exposed to Agent Orange
•Fined $1.2 million for concealing the discharge of contaminated waste water
•Ordered to pay $41.1 million due to hazardous waste dumping
•Paid $600 million in settlement claims to more than 20,000 Anniston residents [for PCB contamination].
•Produced GM cattle drug, bovine growth hormone (called rBGH or rBST)
•Acquiring seed companies from the 1990’s and forward.
•Monsanto Filed 144 lawsuits against struggling farmers and settled out of court with 700 farmers, for reportedly violating seed patents. A full time staff of 75 Monsanto employees investigates patent infringement. They are dedicated solely to finding farms that have been contaminated by their unwanted seed. As of 2007, Monsanto was awarded in 57 recorded judgments against farmers a total of $21,583,431.99.”
To read the rest of this article go here:http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/07/07/monsanto-tax-over-brazil.aspx?e_cid=20120707_DNL_artNew_2