April 01, 2011

Birds Do It, Bees Do It, So We'll See You in Court

Organic farmers sue Monsanto.

[Genetically modified] crops have another interesting quality -- you can "use" a patented gene without even knowing it. When you download and share music and movies on peer-to-peer networks or plagiarize blog posts or books, let's face it -- you know what you're doing. But if you're a farmer, GMO seeds can literally blow in to your fields on the breeze or just the pollen from GMO crops can blow in (or buzz in via bees) and contaminate your organic or "conventional" fields. And if that happens, Monsanto or Syngenta or Bayer CropLife maintain the right to sue you as if you had illegally bought their seed and knowingly planted it.

Regardless of what you think about genetically modified crops, it has always seemed perverted to sue other growers for "patent infringement" after "patented" pollen has drifted onto their plants, thanks to the wind. But that has happened in the past.

If the suit is successful, not only will it limit Monsanto's ability to sue farmers, the company will have far greater responsibility for how and where its biotech seeds are planted. The regulatory free ride will be over. While that won’t eliminate GMO crops, it will at least give organic farmers a hope of avoiding contamination.

1 comment:

Camera Trap Codger said...

There's an excellent documentary about how it all started in Canada -- I saw it on PBS a couple years back. Anyway, I hope they sue the hell out of the arrogant and greedy GMO crowd.