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 unproven technology.
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in a sustainable global food system, please -- speak
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 forward.
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 one.