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article imageOrganic farmers march to cut off food giant Monsanto at the knees

By Carol Forsloff     Apr 20, 2011 in Environment
Monsanto is poised to receive a 38% boon in profits this year, despite concerns about long-term problems associated with their approach to farming and business practices, as some organic farmers are poised to undercut the giant at the knees.
The company maintains it is helping both large and small farmers survive and make a profit. In fact they point to the enrichment of a number of farmers through the use of methods established by the food production giant.
This is what a recent press release declares, in response to the particular success of alfalfa planning.
“We are seeing a lot of excitement and pent-up demand for Genuity Roundup Ready Alfalfa this year, following a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture ruling that authorized the resumption of sale and planting of the technology,” said Steve Havera, Monsanto Traits Marketing Manager in St. Louis.
“Growers recognize that this technology can allow them to increase yield potential of alfalfa that is higher in quality due to the unsurpassed weed control achievable for the life of their alfalfa stands,” he added.
Media attention to the new techniques and fast-moving technology is driven by the engines owned by Monsanto, with both a newspaper and a magazine devoted to spreading what they proclaim to be good news about their techniques and the future of farming. Recently they have focused on response to accusations they require farmers to pay for saved seeds and why they manufacture “terminator” seeds.
Monsanto declares, “Monsanto has never developed or commercialized a sterile seed product. Sharing many of the concerns of small landholder farmers, Monsanto made a commitment in 1999 not to commercialize sterile seed technology in food crops.”
At the same time, Monsanto keeps the door open to the future of seed production called GURT or Gene Use Restricted Technology with the follow up statement, Monsanto sees both the positive and negative aspects of GURT and understands there are some uses which would not involve sterile seeds but which would be beneficial for small landholder farmers. For instance, it may be possible to create varieties where farmers can save and plant seeds, but the offspring seed does not carry the biotech trait.
If Monsanto should decide to move forward in the area of GURTs, we would do so in consultation with experts and stakeholders, including NGOs.”
In the meantime organic farmers are on the march to undo some of what they consider to be harmful practices related to the food supply. Today it was reported they filed a lawsuit, titled Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association, et al. v. Monsanto. They did this, according to a recent news report, in order to stop Monsanto from lawsuits filed against small farmers and to undermine the patents Monsanto has on genetically modified seeds. They believe the denials Monsanto gives about these seeds are a ruse to get around the fact that they are making serious plans to press forward in their pursuit of advancing GURT.
In order to stop Monsanto, organic farmers in the United States are poised to undo the patents Monsanto has for genetically modification of seeds by proving in court that these seeds create environmental harm. According to legal experts, this would cut off Monsanto in a deliberate and serious way, undermining its strength at the core of their advancement.
European courts have already staggered Monsanto in some ways by focusing on their patent monopolies. In a Genomic Law Report the complexity of the ruling is discussed. In short the decision had less to do about pursuit of genetically engineered food than how patents are described and the elements about them defined in order for companies to be open about business practices. The European Court had examined Dutch law for the complex ruling.
Organic farmers in the United States, however, recognize the American court is looking for environmental evidence of harm and are looking to undo the progress of the food giant by demonstrating that the strategies can interrupt the ongoing food supply in disastrous ways through seeds that cannot reproduce.
David Hill , a blogger that has been examining the Monsanto cases in relationship to organic farmers, said this about the risks that may be found in Monsanto’s business practices and technology, “Science has only scratched the surface on the complex role between genetics, diet, and environment, so how in the world can a company claim that introducing a foreign gene into a seed’s DNA is going to be safe for everything and everyone, both now and in the distant future?”
More about organic farmers, Monsanto, GURT, genetically modified seeds, Monsanto's profits
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