Monsanto’s Franken-foods and Patent Infringement

After my “Food: Preventative Medicine” post, I just had to weigh in on this story from NPR:

A New York federal court today dismissed a lawsuit against agribusiness giant Monsanto brought by thousands of certified organic farmers. The farmers hoped the suit would protect them against infringing on the company’s crop patents in the future.

The Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association and several other growers and organizations do not use Monsanto seeds. But they were betting that the judge would agree that Monsanto should not be allowed to sue them if pollen from the company’s patented crops happened to drift into their fields.

Well, those farmers were wrong, now weren’t they?

Monsanto is–to my mind–basically evil, so I was sad to see this. Perhaps the judge was right, in this case, but Monsanto (and enormous agribusinesses like it) do terrible things to farmers across the globe. Whether it’s giving seeds to African farmers that grow faster, but turn out to be inferior when it comes to pest or drought resistance, only to turn around and sell them pesticides and fertilizer at exorbitant prices (nearly wiping out heirloom varieties of those crops in the process) or doing exactly what it is the New York farmers are worrying about (suing nearby farmers when their crops get pollinated by Monsanto’s franken-crops), this company is up to no good.

Last year there was a lot of fuss made about patent-enforcement in the tech-industry and how it’s stifling business growth (check out this great This American Life episode called When Patents Attack!) and I’m sad to see the concern hasn’t made its way to the food community. Genetically modified crops are creepy enough, but it’s even creepier when those franken-crops rear their ugly heads and start attacking family farmers.

Now would be a good time to let your elected representatives know how you feel about Monsanto.

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