June 14, 2004: I am a big fan of The New Farm
website and read it weekly. I recently read your
latest article on the May 21, 2004 Canadian Supreme Court ruling
on the Monsanto v. Schmeiser case. I have kept up on this
case for quite a while and feel that Monsanto and other GMO-promoting
companies are acting unethically and unwisely in pushing their
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However, I followed the link on your page to the entire
ruling of the Canadian Supreme Court on this case and
learned a few things that neither The New Farm nor any other
anti-GMO organizations had ever mentioned. Apparently, Mr.
Schmeiser either did intend to profit from the unintentional
genetic contamination of his canola, or he wanted to test
the strength or correctness of Monsanto's patent of genes
and genetic techniques.
This according to court documents: Mr. Schmeiser harvested
canola that could have been contaminated by drifting pollen
from neighboring Roundup-Ready canola fields in 1995. In 1996,
he planted that seed in his fields and used Roundup on 3 acres
of it to isolate the canola plants containing the patented
gene and harvested and stored that contaminated seed separately
from the rest of his field. He had that contaminated seed
treated for planting and planted 1030 acres with that seed,
despite Monsanto’s prior warning that seed taken from
the public road right-of-way by his farm had tested positive
for the patented gene.
The Supreme Court ruled that Mr. Schmeiser knowingly used
Monsanto's patent protected gene. It did not dispute that
pollen drift might have contaminated his crop. However, it
viewed his actions after he knew it was contaminated as a
violation of the patent. The court maintains that if the Patent
Act needs to be modified, it is up to Parliament to do so.
Looking back, it is apparent that Mr. Schmeiser took on Monsanto
in the wrong way. I believe the scientific evidence is there
to support the case against Monsanto's unsafe technology if
the appealing farmer is above reproach in his ethics and practices.
The best defense is a good offense. Organic farmers need
to take the best precautionary measures that Monsanto, the
scientific community, and agro-industry advise for protection
against contamination of their crops by GMO, then sue the
bio-tech companies for trespass, violation of health and food
safety regulations, Clean Air Act violations, and actual damages
and loss of profit incurred by the farmers because of GMO
contamination. I am disappointed that The New Farm and other
organic and anti-GMO organizations failed to report the whole
story, and I fear that the “poster child" for the
anti-GMO movement has tarnished our image a little by painting
us as uninformed zealots rallying around our not-so-pure or
honest victim of agribusiness.
Hopefully, we can learn from these mistakes and as we move
Organic gardener, ecologist, and someday organic farmer
THANKS, CODY. We appreciate the work you did on this.
We were lapping up the message and weren’t inclined
to check out the messenger in greater detail. Your case
for a good offense that’s above reproach is a convincing