Thursday, May 14, 2009

Monsanto Fights Farmers

(I have been known to say a thing or two about seeds, about what is being done to farmers, food, and what it means to us and all life. Yes, I want farmers and gardeners and people who love seed and soil, and who work to sustain healthy food possibilities for all of us to have control of seed, health of the food produced consume, and the water we need to sustain it all. I am in support of all who wish to strengthen our already tenuous seed sources. We are hanging genetically on a few threads, and mutating what is left doesn't sound like a good idea to me. So, again, I say, we must be aware of what is happening with our basic resources.)

By Linn Cohen-Cole

People say if farmers don’t want problems from Monsanto, just don’t buy their GMO seeds.
Not so simple. Where are farmers supposed to get normal seed these days? How are they supposed to avoid contamination of their fields from GM-crops? How are they supposed to stop Monsanto detectives from trespassing or Monsanto from using helicopters to fly over spying on them?
Monsanto contaminates the fields, trespasses onto the land taking samples and if they find any GMO plants growing there (or say they have), they then sue, saying they own the crop. It’s a way to make money since farmers can’t fight back and court and they settle because they have no choice.
And they have done and are doing a bucket load of things to keep farmers and everyone else from having any access at all to buying, collecting, and saving of NORMAL seeds.
1. They’ve bought up the seed companies across the Midwest.
2. They’ve written Monsanto seed laws and gotten legislators to put them through, that make cleaning, collecting and storing of seeds so onerous in terms of fees and paperwork and testing and tracking every variety and being subject to fines, that having normal seed becomes almost impossible (an NAIS approach to wiping out normal seeds). Does your state have such a seed law? Before they existed, farmers just collected the seeds and put them in sacks in the shed and used them the next year, sharing whatever they wished with friends and neighbors, selling some if they wanted. That’s been killed.
In Illinois, which has such a seed law, Madigan, the Speaker of the House, his staff is Monsanto lobbyists.
3. Monsanto is pushing anti-democracy laws (Vilsack’s brainchild, actually) that remove community’ control over their own counties so farmers and citizens can’t block the planting of GMO crops even if they can contaminate other crops. So if you don’t want a GM-crop that grows industrial chemicals or drugs or a rice growing with human DNA in it, in your area and mixing with your crops, tough luck.
Check the map of just where the Monsanto/Vilsack laws are and see if your state is still a democracy or is Monsanto’s. A farmer in Illinois told me he heard that Bush had pushed through some regulation that made this true in every state. People need to check on that.
4. For sure there are Monsanto regulations buried in the FDA right now that make a farmer’s seed cleaning equipment illegal (another way to leave nothing but GM-seeds) because it’s now considered a “source of seed contamination.” Farmer can still seed clean but the equipment now has to be certified and a farmer said it would require a million to a million and half dollar building and equipment … for EACH line of seed. Seed storage facilities are also listed (another million?) and harvesting and transport equipment. And manure. Something that can contaminate seed. Notice that chemical fertilizers and pesticides are not mentioned.
You could eat manure and be okay (a little grossed out but okay). Try that with pesticides and fertilizers. Indian farmers have. Their top choice for how to commit suicide to escape the debt they have been left in is to drink Monsanto pesticides.
5. Monsanto is picking off seed cleaners across the Midwest. In Pilot Grove, Missouri, in Indiana (Maurice Parr), and now in southern Illinois (Steve Hixon). And they are using US marshals and state troopers and county police to show up in three cars to serve the poor farmers who had used Hixon as their seed cleaner, telling them that he or their neighbors turned them in, so across that 6 county areas, no one talking to neighbors and people are living in fear and those farming communities are falling apart from the suspicion Monsanto sowed. Hixon’s office got broken into and he thinks someone put a GPS tracking device on his equipment and that’s how Monsanto found between 200-400 customers in very scattered and remote areas, and threatened them all and destroyed his business within 2 days.
So, after demanding that seed cleaners somehow be able to tell one seed from another (or be sued to kingdom come) or corrupting legislatures to put in laws about labeling of seeds that are so onerous no one can cope with them, what is Monsanto’s attitude about labeling their own stuff? You guessed it - they’re out there pushing laws against ANY labeling of their own GM-food and animals and of any exports to other countries. Why?
We know and they know why.
As Norman Braksick, the president of Asgrow Seed Co. (now owned by Monsanto) predicted in the Kansas City Star (3/7/94) seven years ago, “If you put a label on a genetically engineered food, you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it.”
And they’ve sued dairy farmers for telling the truth about their milk being rBGH-free, though rBGH is associated with an increased risk of breast, colon and prostate cancers.
I just heard that some seed dealers urge farmers to buy the seed under the seed dealer’s name, telling the farmers it helps the dealer get a discount on seed to buy a lot under their own name. Then Monsanto sues the poor farmer for buying their seed without a contract and extorts huge sums from them.
Here’s a youtube video that is worth your time. Vandana Shiva is one of the leading anti-Monsanto people in the world. In this video, she says (and this video is old), Monsanto had sued 1500 farmers whose fields had simply been contaminated by GM-crops. Listen to all the ways Monsanto goes after farmers.
Do you know the story of Gandhi in India and how the British had salt laws that taxed salt? The British claimed it as theirs. Gandhi had what was called a Salt Satyagraha, in which people were asked to break the laws and march to the sea and collect the salt without paying the British. A kind of Boston tea party, I guess.
Thousands of people marched 240 miles to the ocean where the British were waiting. As people moved forward to collect the salt, the British soldiers clubbed them but the people kept coming. The non-violent protest exposed the British behavior, which was so revolting to the world that it helped end British control in India.
Vandana Shiva has started a Seed Satyagraha - nonviolent non-cooperation around seed laws - has gotten millions of farmers to sign a pledge to break those laws.
American farmers and cattlemen might appreciate what Gandhi fought for and what Shiva is bringing back and how much it is about what we are all so angry about - loss of basic freedoms. [The highlighting is mine.]
This may be a version of above

Monsanto's Many Attempts to Destroy All Seeds but Their Own

Some say that if farmers don’t want problems from Monsanto, they simply shouldn’t buy Monsanto’s GMO seeds. But it isn’t quite that simple. Monsanto contaminates the fields, trespasses onto the land taking samples, and then sues, saying they own the crop.

Meanwhile, Monsanto is taking many other steps to keep farmers and everyone else from having any access at all to buying, collecting, and saving of normal seeds:
1. They’ve bought up the seed companies across the Midwest.

2. They’ve written Monsanto seed laws and gotten legislators to put them through, that make cleaning, collecting and storing of seeds so onerous in terms of fees and paperwork that having normal seed becomes almost impossible.

3. Monsanto is pushing laws that ensure farmers and citizens can’t block the planting of GMO crops even if they can contaminate other crops.

4. There are Monsanto regulations buried in the FDA rules that make a farmer’s seed cleaning equipment illegal because it’s now considered a “source of seed contamination.”

Monsanto has sued more than 1,500 farmers whose fields had simply been contaminated by GM crops.


Surviving the Middle Class Crash February 5, 2009

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

There is a reason why I believe Monsanto to be one of the most evil companies on the planet, and this is in large part due to its activities relating to controlling food production through controlling the seeds to produce it.

For nearly all of its history the United States Patent and Trademark Office refused to grant patents on seeds, viewing them as life-forms with too many variables to be patented. But in 1980 the U.S. Supreme Court allowed for seed patents in a five-to-four decision, laying the groundwork for a handful of corporations to begin taking control of the world’s food supply.

Since the 1980s, Monsanto has become the world leader in genetic modification of seeds and has won at least 674 biotechnology patents, more than any other company.

This is not surprising, considering they invest over $2 million a day on research and development!

But Monsanto is not only patenting their own GMO seeds. They have also succeeded in slapping patents on a huge number of crop seeds, patenting life forms for the first time -- again without a vote of the people or Congress. By doing this, Monsanto becomes sole owner of the very seeds necessary to support the world’s food supply … an incredibly powerful position that no for-profit company should ever hold.

How do they defend this blatant attempt to control the food supply? They write on
“Patent protection allows companies to see a return on their investment which enables further investment in R-and-D and product development. This profit-investment cycle drives product innovation that is responsive to farmer needs.”

Farmers’ needs?

Farmers who buy Monsanto’s GM seeds are required to sign an agreement promising not to save the seeds or sell them to other farmers. The result? Farmers must buy new seeds every year, and they must buy them from Monsanto.

Meanwhile, these same farmers who Monsanto is claiming to help are being aggressively targeted and pursued for outrageous patent infringements on these same seeds.

The “Seed Police”

Monsanto employs an arsenal of private investigators and agents who secretly videotape farmers, snatch crop samples from their land and even fly helicopters overhead to spy -- all to catch farmers saving or sharing seeds.

As of 2005 Monsanto had 75 employees and a $10-million budget solely to investigate and prosecute farmers for patent infringement.

And until recently, Monsanto has even been known to sue farmers for GM crops growing on their land that got there via cross-contamination. In other words, a neighboring farm’s GM seeds blew over onto their land, and Monsanto slaps them with a lawsuit.

I realize this seems incredible, but it is true.

Have You Heard of Terminator Seeds?

Creating and promoting GM crops is, in my opinion, a major threat to public health. Patenting those same seeds takes it to an even higher level of evil. But there is another reason why I don’t believe for one second that Monsanto has the virtuous intentions they claim: terminator seeds.

Monsanto is considering using what’s known as terminator technology on a wide-scale basis. These are seeds that have been genetically modified to “self-destruct.” In other words, the seeds (and the forthcoming crops) are sterile, which means farmers must buy them again each year.

This solves their problem of needing “seed police,” but they are obviously looking the other way when it comes to the implications that terminator seeds could have on the world’s food supply: the traits from genetically engineered crops can get passed on to other crops, and often do.

Once the terminator seeds are released into a region, the trait of seed sterility could be passed to other non-genetically-engineered crops, making most or all of the seeds in the region sterile.

Not only would this mean that every farm in the world could come to rely on Monsanto for their seed supply, but if the GM traits spread it could destroy agriculture as we now know it.

How Can You Get Through to Monsanto?

First, I urge you to get informed on the issue by watching The Future of Food. This in-depth investigation into the disturbing truth behind genetically modified foods is one of the best documentaries I have ever viewed. It will help you understand the very real threat that ALL future generations face as a result of genetic engineering.

Next, hit Monsanto where it counts … their bottom line. By boycotting all GM foods and instead supporting organic (and local) farmers who do not use Monsanto’s GM seeds, you are using your wallet to make your opinions known.

This means abstaining from virtually all processed food products (most are loaded with GM ingredients) and sticking to fresh, locally grown, organic foodstuffs instead.

The True Food Shopping Guide is a great tool for helping you determine which brands and products contain GMO ingredients. It lists 20 different food categories that include everything from baby food to chocolate.

I’ve also compiled an excellent list of resources where you can still find pure, GM-free foods, and I encourage you to refer to it often and also share it with your friends and family.

Related Links:

A Fake Group Fights for Monsanto's Right to Deceive You

This Company May Be the Biggest Threat to Your Future Health

Some Farmers Now Protected Against Monsanto Lawsuits

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