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Monsanto: The World's Most Hated Corporation

The Organization for Competitive Markets will hold its annual conference on  August 7 in St. Louis to discuss what it sees as unfairness between farmers and ranchers and the corporations with whom they do business.

OCM Executive Director Fred Stokes, of Mississippi, said the group advocates fairness for farmers and ranchers, who he said have been systematically "short-changed" for a long time.

He said farmers and ranchers have to buy from monopolies, singling out Monsanto in particular, who "gouge" their customers. He said they then have to sell to these large companies based on their corporate edicts.

"Family agriculture is fading away," Stokes said.

He said the seed industry is of particular concern.

Stokes said Monsanto owns 90 percent of the genetically traded seed business.

Monsanto representative John Combest said the 90-percent figure is misleading because this includes competitors to whom Monsanto has sold its traits.

"Their prices are out of line," Stokes said, adding that the excess price comes out of the "bottom line" of the farmer.

According to written information from OCM, the group believes Monsanto uses an exclusive licensing agreement strategy to harm local competition. The agreements, the group states, likely restrain independent seed companies from offering competitive traits from other companies. OCM claims the practice "solidifies and extends Monsanto's market power, quashes innovation by other companies, and increases seed prices for crop farmers."

In a written statement, Steve's Seed Conditioning owner Steve Hixon, of Claremont, addressed why he believes the conference is important.

"Anti-competitive behavior in the seed industry has manipulated a complete financial engine and removes massive amounts of economic wealth from the public's access," he stated, also urging people to attend the conference and express their concerns.

Stokes said the company also uses aggressive methods against people.

"They molest people," he said. "They're brutes."

Stokes said the company sues "totally innocent people," and use intimidation so people will not infringe on their patent rights.

Stokes call Monsanto the "world's most hated corporation," claiming it has done egregious things in foreign countries. "They have a pretty sordid history," he said.

Combest said he would direct people to the company's website, www.monsanto.com, to see the company's responses to claims such as these and to see its information on patent issues.

An article in the news and media "for the record" section of the site concerning lawsuits against farmers states, "When farmers purchase a patented seed variety, they sign an agreement that they will not save and replant seeds produced from the seed they buy from us.

"A very small percentage of farmers do not honor this agreement...Where we do find violations, we are able to settle most of these cases without ever going to trial...Sometimes however, we are forced to resort to lawsuits. This is a relatively rare circumstance, with about 120 lawsuits having been filed within the last decade."

An article concerning claims that failure of its Bollgard cotton seed products has caused farmers in India to commit suicide states, "The reality is that that the tragic phenomena of farmer suicides in India began long before the introduction of Bollgard in 2002."

"In fact, a 2004 survey of cotton farmers in India by the IMRB International showed a 118 percent increase in profit for farmers planting Bollgard over traditional cotton. The same survey showed a 64 percent increase in yield and a 25 percent reduction in pesticide costs."

Stokes said OCM believes corporations should be good citizens and that Monsanto needs to change its behavior.

"We just want a straight game," he said.  

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