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Canadian Farmer Sued By Monsanto
Invades Their Territory

Columbia Daily Tribune (Columbia, Missouri)
September 24, 2002
Monsanto Foe Addresses Crowd at Columbia, Mo., University
By John Sullivan


A Canadian farmer locked in a legal battle with the St. Louis-based
multinational firm Monsanto told about 50 students and activists yesterday
at the University of Missouri-Columbia that the firm's genetically modified
organisms threaten biodiversity, consumers' health and farmers' freedom.
"There is no safe distance from these organisms," said Percy Schmeiser, who
grows wheat, canola, peas and oats on a 1,400-acre farm in Saskatchewan. His
talk was sponsored by the Green Party, MU's Students for Progressive Action
and the Missouri Rural Crisis Center. Schmeiser alleged that Monsanto has
contaminated farms all over western Canada with its genetically altered
Roundup Ready canola seeds. Strains of the gene-altered plant, designed to
resist Monsanto's powerful herbicide, have sprouted like weeds themselves
over farms, golf courses and cemeteries, Schmeiser said.

The genetically stronger canola strain has also invaded farms through
cross-pollination and killed off organic strains of canola, Schmeiser said.
Rather than take responsibility for harming biodiversity, however, Monsanto
has pursued an aggressive strategy of seed monopolization, Schmeiser said.
Schmeiser collided head-on with that strategy when Monsanto alleged he had
been using its seed to grow canola on his farm without permission. The
allegation alarmed Schmeiser, who said the presence of Monsanto's seed on
his farm would threaten his own crop pedigree, which he said he has been
developing since 1947.

Monsanto sued Schmeiser, and the court granted it $ 19,000 in damages and
court costs of up to $ 100,000. The court also granted Monsanto ownership of
any Roundup Ready canola plants grown on farms that do not purchase their
seeds, regardless of whether the seeds arrived naturally or were
intentionally planted.

A three-judge appellate panel recently upheld the decision and added that
Monsanto retained ownership of the crop even when there is a probability the
seed was naturally transported and when the farmer is unaware of its
presence.

Schmeiser is taking his case to Canada's Supreme Court.
"Basically what this means is that" Monsanto "wants complete control of that
seed supply," Schmeiser said. He speculated that's the only way Monsanto
could financially recover from the loss of its herbicide patent, which
expired two years ago.

Schmeiser said Monsanto requires that farmers who purchase the seeds agree
to a $ 15-per-acre technology fee, promise they will use only Monsanto's
Roundup herbicide and allow three years of crop inspections by Monsanto
representatives. "It's one of the most repulsive contracts in the entire
world," Schmeiser said.

Keith Brekhus and Daniel Romano, Green Party candidates for the U.S. House
and U.S. Senate, respectively, commended Schmeiser's courage for facing off
with the corporate giant.

"This is more than just a struggle about our food," said Brekhus, who dubbed
MU the University of Monsanto for its close connection to the multinational
firm. "This is a struggle over corporate domination, and it's going on all
over the world."

Romano echoed the concerns, saying they further justify the call for an
alternative to the United States' two-party system of government, which he
said has allowed companies such as Monsanto to continue operating.

"A person once said to me, 'Why are you running as a third-party candidate?
Don't you know this is a two-party system?' " he said. " 'That's right,' I
told him, 'and we need a second party.' "

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