Monsanto Charged With Using US
to Control Staple Crop Seeds
A.V. KREBS / The Agribusiness Examiner i.389, 19jan05
NORTHERN PLAINS RESOURCE COUNCIL: A study released today by the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Food Safety meticulously documents one biotech company's use of U.S. patent laws to control staple crop seeds.
The report follows the introduction of the Farmer Protection Act at the 2005 Montana Legislature. Sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Jon Tester (Dem.-Big Sandy), the Farmer Protection Act would shield Montana wheat farmers from unfair lawsuits like those described in the report. A hearing on the bill will take place on February 4th before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
- To date, Monsanto Corp. has filed 90 lawsuits in 25 states involving 147
American farmers and 39 small businesses or farm companies.
- Monsanto has set aside an annual budget of $10 million and 75 full-time
staff devoted solely to investigating and prosecuting farmers.
- The largest recorded judgment favorable to Monsanto documented by the
report was $3,052,800
- Monsanto has received $15,253,602.82 in total recorded judgments to date.
According to the report, Monsanto's efforts to prosecute farmers fall into three categories: investigations of farmers; out-of-court settlements; and litigation against farmers accused of patent infringement or "breach of contract."
Companies that patent genetically engineered seeds own the right to the technology contained in each seed. Farmers who purchase genetically engineered seeds must sign Technology Use Agreements that specifically shield the patent company from liability for accidental contamination or other adverse impacts. The effect of these agreements is to pit farmer against farmer when conflicts arise.
The Farmer Protection Act (SB 218) aims to shield Montana wheat farmers from undue liability for genetically engineered wheat damages. The bill would also prevent patent-holding companies from suing farmers for patent infringement if genetically engineered wheat drifts across property lines and is found on the land of farmers who did not intentionally grow it. [January 13, 2005]
THE AGRIBUSINESS EXAMINER
January 19, 2005, Issue #389
Monitoring Corporate Agribusiness
From a Public Interest Perspective
EDITOR\PUBLISHER; A.V. Krebs