Monsanto's Earnings Nearly Double as They Create a Farming Monopoly
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By detailing how many conventional farmers have given up trying to grow certain crops, OSGATA's motion to appeal emphasises the monopolisation that has resulted from Monsanto's aggressive pursuit of patent infringement cases. It is estimated that 88 percent of corn and 93 percent of soybeans are genetically modified, most of them by Monsanto. Bryce Stephens, an organic farmer in the northwest of Kansas, is one of those farmers who have decided to forego growing corn and soybeans due to the inevitable contamination that will result.
"My fear of contamination by transgenic corn and soybeans and the resulting risk of being accused of patent infringement prevent me from growing corn and soybeans on my farm. There is no other reason why I do not grow those crops, and I would very much like to do so."
As Gerritson described to me, "Farmers have suffered economic loss because they've abandoned growing corn and soybeans because they are certain they will be contaminated. They cannot put their farms and families at risk of being sued for patent infringement."
Monsanto knows that consumers won't voluntarily buy their products - a lesson they learned in Europe when GE foods there were required to be labelled as such. In America, the company and its allies have spent millions to defeat local labelling initiatives, most recently in California. But if the company successfully crowds out conventional farmers, Americans won't have a choice - with or without a label.
In spite of the creation of this dangerous monopoly, in February 2012, Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald granted Monsanto's request and dismissed the initial suit, casting the farmers' concerns as "overstated"; urging the plaintiffs to trust Monsanto's (non-legally binding) promises to not exercise their patent rights over inadvertent acquisition of traces of GE plants; and insisting that farmers have created " a controversy where none exists".
If the farmers' case is allowed to go forward, the very least that will happen is of supreme importance: that is, through the process of discovery the public will gain access to a trove of information that Monsanto has successfully stashed away. Ravicher believes that it can then be established that the products Monsanto peddles are not healthy and, hence, are not for the good of society. Quoting a 150-year-old case, Ravicher reminds us that "an invention to poison the people is not patentable".
It's clear that the movement to defeat Monsanto is growing. Win or lose this round, the people are not giving up on taking down this monster.
Charlotte Silver is a journalist based in San Francisco and the West Bank, Palestine. She is a graduate of Stanford University.