The Monsanto Ruling's Dangerous Consequences for Agriculture Persuasive Essay by scribbler

The Monsanto Ruling's Dangerous Consequences for Agriculture
A discussion on the 2004 Canadian Supreme Court case, "Monsanto Canada Inc. v. Schmeiser", and its dangerous implications for farmers, biotech corporations and the agriculture industry.
# 153389 | 1,734 words | 5 sources | MLA | 2013 | US
Published on May 28, 2013 in Business (Companies) , Agricultural Studies (Biotechnology) , Law (Historic Trials)

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The paper relates that since its transition in the late 1990s from the production of plastics to biotechnology, Monsanto has been the source of much controversy in the agricultural industry due to its lack of transparency and its questionable food-safety ethos. The paper discusses how Monsanto has consistently worked against government regulation and employed tactics of questionable legality in order to widen its control over the world food supply through its patenting of certain genes and seeds. The paper focuses on the 2004 Canadian Supreme Court ruling in favor of Monsanto, "Monsanto Canada Inc. v. Schmeiser", that argued that the company maintained copyright over all seeds produced by the company, regardless of how those seeds came to be planted. The paper explains how this ruling gives corporations unprecedented control over farmers and the food supply at large, with dangerous consequences for the future of agriculture.

From the Paper:

"The case centered around Saskatchewan farmer Percy Schmeiser, who Monsanto accused of violating "Monsanto's patent rights by planting the company's genetically modified (GM) canola seed without paying a licensing fee" (Kondro 1229). Schmeiser countersued for "crop contamination, trespassing and defamation," arguing that Monsanto's "Roundup-resistant canola [was] spreading onto his land, despite his efforts to control it" (Singer 3). Schmeiser claimed that he had received the seeds accidentally when they blew onto his crops from passing trucks or neighboring farms, and that he could not be held responsible for the invading seeds or Monsanto's copyrighted genes transferring to other plants via pollen. Nonetheless, the court ruled in Monsanto's favor, although it did decline "to order [Schmeiser] to turn over profits from the sale of the canola, or pay Monsanto's legal fees, because he earned no additional profit from using the pirated seed. He didn't even spray his canola plants with the herbicide -called Roundup-that they were engineered to resist, the justices noted" (Kondro 1229).
"The problem with the ruling, despite the monetary reprieve granted to Schmeiser, is that is grants Monsanto and other biotech companies the ability to enforce patents on "specific DNA sequences or cells," even when those DNA sequences and cells may transfer to other plants without the owner's knowledge. Thus, the court ruling suggests that a farmer is responsible for identifying and removing Monsanto-infected crops from their own fields even if they are unaware of the presence of those Monsanto genes."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Coons, Rebecca. "Supreme Court Hears Monsanto Appeal of Alfalfa Injunction." Chemical Week. 03 May 2010: 11. Print.
  • Dunne, Jim. "Monsanto rejects uncontrolled test claim." Irish Times 01 Sep 1998: 4. Print.
  • Kondro, Wayne. "Monsanto Wins Split Decision in Patent Fight Over GM Crop." Science. 304.5675 (2004): 1229. Print.
  • Singer, Jeff. "David countersues Goliath [Percy Schmeiser suing Monsanto]." Alternatives Journal. 26.1 (2000): 3. Print.
  • Spears, Tom. "Use of BST to boost milk production in cows safe, says Monsanto VP: Canadians are victims of `misinformation' about synthetic hormone." Ottawa Citizen 11 Dec 1998: H5. Print.

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