What would be adequate compenstaion for wilfully unleashing such an
unstoppable uber-weed upon the agricultural world? Who would sue? This
raises many a question, and I would be interested to hear from our canola
farming list-comrades on this issue.
[ps please excuse the spelling and yes I know roundup ready canola can be
killed by other means. ]
On Wed, 25 Nov 1998, Beth von Gunten wrote:
> WESTERN PRODUCER: Saskatoon newsroom
> Sask. farmer says charge bees and wind, not him
> By Ed White and Rodney Desnomie
> Percy Schmeiser says he's innocent and wants his name cleared.
> And if he ends up facing Monsanto in court, he's going to be putting the
> company's genetically altered crops on trial.
> "It's in the ditches and the roadsides; it's in the shelterbelts; it's in
> the gardens; it's all over," said Schmeiser.
> Monsanto is suing the Bruno, Sask., farmer for allegedly growing Roundup
> Ready canola without a licence.
> The company claims Schmeiser bought the seed from one or more local
> growers and planted it in 1997. He then grew a crop, keeping some of it
> for seed for the 1998 crop year, Monsanto claims.
> No court date has been set.
> Monsanto has patented the genetic modification that makes canola plants
> resistant to glyphosate. Seed companies under contract to Monsanto produce
> the seed, which is sold through farm supply businesses. To grow the seed,
> farmers must sign a contract with Monsanto agreeing to sell all their
> crop, with none retained to seed future crops.
> Schmeiser said he did not plant any of Monsanto's seed, and if
> glyphosate-tolerant canola plants grew in his fields this summer, it
> occurred through pollination from other fields or from seed scattered by
> machinery and from trucks traveling the roads that run beside his land.
> Possible explanation
> Schmeiser said his land is surrounded by other canola growers, and pollen
> could have drifted into his fields on the wind. His land also lies beside
> busy truck routes that lead to grain elevators.
> Schmeiser spoke to reporters at his lawyer's office in downtown Saskatoon,
> saying he wants to clear his name of Monsanto's charges.
> "It's very upsetting to me to all of a sudden see your name in the paper
> -- that you maybe stole the seed," said Schmeiser.
> He said he first noticed glyphosate-tolerant canola plants in his fields
> 18 months ago, when he sprayed chemical to control weeds around the power
> poles in his fields. Some canola plants were unharmed by the spray.
> Pea crop planned
> This past spring Schmeiser said he used a glyphosate pre-seeding burnoff
> on a field that had grown canola the year before and on which he planned
> to grow peas.
> But so many volunteer canola plants survived that he decided he couldn't
> afford to grow the peas there, and planted canola instead.
> "We're just touching the tip of the iceberg in polluted fields,
> contamination of fields by this Roundup genetic canola," said Schmeiser.
> "It just opens up a vast area of uncertainty."
> His first inkling of trouble came in a phone call from a Humboldt Monsanto
> representative. The man told him the company had received a tip that
> Schmeiser was growing seed covered by Monsanto's patent on the altered
> genes, and that the company wanted to take samples of his crop.
> Schmeiser refused to allow the company to take samples, but with a court
> order Monsanto collected some of Schmeiser's crop.
> Monsanto's statement of claim asks for an injunction preventing Schmeiser
> from using or selling any seed that breaks its patent protection. It wants
> his canola crop seized, and asks for general, punitive and exemplary
> damages, as well as legal costs.
> Schmeiser's statement of defence said he never received any
> patent-protected canola seed and never deliberately planted any.
> It also challenges the validity of the Monsanto patent, arguing it is
> improper to patent a life form and is an attempt to entrap farmers with
> "nuisance patent infringement claims."
> Schmeiser said he is upset by the lawsuit, but will not change his farming
> practices because of it.
> "I plan to do exactly what I was doing this year, next year."
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