Cut the Crop

As Farmers Go For Round Two Against
Monsanto, Investors Remain Oblivious

Farmers will appear today before the U.S. Court of Appeals to seek protection against Monsanto, which is threatening them if any of its patented seeds is found in farms that it does not own. The case may be a turning point in the long-running struggle between the two sides.
Arguing on the farmers’ behalf, the Organic Seed Growers Association is appealing an earlier dismissal of their case by a federal judge, even though Monsanto was, as it still is, ready to take legal action against growers whose seeds may have been accidentally contaminated.
Since we’ve written about it last April (story below), the giant food corporation’s balance sheet has only grown stronger, though, while ever more vilified among independent farmers and consumer advocates. Ironically, then as now, it reported earnings gains, to glowing reviews by investors and analysts.
But although Monsanto’s unregulated research into genetically manipulation of seeds and crops is the focus and reason for its widespread unpopularity, this lawsuit is about yet another highly arguable claim: that it has the right to sue if what considers its property is found, say, in your own backyard.
In the case of farmers, that mean an impossibility, since seeds are carried along since immemorial times by natural forces such as birds, insects, wind, even erosion. No one should have to hire expensive lawyers to protect themselves from what may as well be the definition of ‘an act of god.’
Not for Monsanto, apparently, which has the financial muscle to sustain long battles, while it continues financing ways to manipulate crops guided only for the need to feed its corporate bottom line. We’ve tried to be as broad and comprehensive in our report, which is based on a variety of stories about the company.
We’re also thinking of the transcendence of what’s about to be decided in Washington, in the context of a more populated and hungrier world than ever. It’s quite clear which side most of us are in this issue: if Monsanto succeeds stomping down the resistance to its claim, that will be really great only to its shareholders.
If the farmers win, however, that will bring benefits across the board, and way beyond the absurd component of this lawsuit. Never mind the wind; Monsanto will have to prove beyond doubt that its seeds are not contaminating, in a wrong, disastrous way, the crops of those who chose to plant them the way it’s been done for centuries.
Plus, the greater focus will hopefully turn to Monsanto’s genetically manipulation of seeds, as such an enterprise should never be pursued solely under the premise of increasing profits, and without proper Continue reading


No Saint

Monsanto’s Profit Grows Despite
Worldwide Aversion to Gen-Alt Crops

What’s a food corporation to do when it’s increasingly vilified around the world, not just for introducing genetically-altered crops before there’s proof there’s no harm to both consumers and the environment, but also for fighting attempts to have products made out of them labeled as such in stores? It raises its profit forecast, of course.
Monsanto, whose weed killer Roundup’s been linked to mutations in frogs, is also accused of strong-arming small farmers by waging court battles against them in several states, over issues concerning its patent-protected seeds. But even thought its crops have been banned in seven European Union nations so far, the company’s been able to get on the good side of most U.S. courts.
So much so that, in at least one instance, the Supreme Court may be asked to weight on the issue of when its proprietary claims may be crushing farmers’ rights. Judging by recent decisions, though, potential litigants against it may first try to win wider support in the court of public opinion: the current crop of U.S. justices may not even accept to review the issue, and that would benefit Monsanto.
That a food company that’s been involved in so much litigation has still managed to expect even higher profits may not be easy to grasp, if all you know about it, you’ve learned from the headlines. In that case, we’re very sorry to say, but this is not even the place to start your education. Still, stick around and you’ll get a pretty good idea of what’s Continue reading