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The court ruled that regardless of how genetic altered canola... Monsanto's genetic altered Canola, gets on a persons land, it's the property of Monsanto, and even if cross-pollinates into your crop, your plant becomes the property of Monsanto
In a key part of the ruling, the judge agreed a farmer can generally own the seeds or plants grown on his land if they blow in or are carried there by pollen -- but the judge says this is not true in the case of genetically modified seed.
It was that part of the ruling that most upsets Percy Schmeiser. The implications are wide ranging and Schmeiser has launched an appeal that was heard on May 15 & 16, 2002 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The Federal Court of Appeal subsequently rejected Schmeiser's appeal. Schmeiser then asked for leave from Canada's Supreme Court to hear the case. Leave was granted in May 2003 and the case was heard on January 20, 2004.
The Supreme Court issued their decision in May 2004 and one can view the decision as a draw. The Court determined that Monsanto's patent is valid, but Schmeiser is not forced to pay Monsanto anything as he did not profit from the presence of Roundup Ready canola in his fields. This issue started with Monsanto demanding Schmeiser pay the $15/acre technology fee and in the end, Schmeiser did not have to pay. The Schmeiser family and supporters are pleased with this decision, however disappointed that the other areas of appeal were not overturned.
The study – carried out over the past three years at the University of Kansas in the US grain belt – has found that GM soya produces about 10 per cent less food than its conventional equivalent, contradicting assertions by advocates of the technology that it increases yields.
The new study confirms earlier research at the University of Nebraska, which found that another Monsanto GM soya produced 6 per cent less than its closest conventional relative, and 11 per cent less than the best non-GM soya available.
A similar situation seems to have happened with GM cotton in the US, where the total US crop declined even as GM technology took over.
Monsanto said yesterday that it was surprised by the extent of the decline found by the Kansas study, but not by the fact that the yields had dropped. It said that the soya had not been engineered to increase yields, and that it was now developing one that would.
Professor Bob Watson, the director of the study and chief scientist at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when asked if GM could solve world hunger, said: "The simple answer is no."
Selling seeds is more than just an extra source of income on this organic farm an hour northwest of Montreal.
For Meek and partner Frederic Sauriol, propagating local varieties is part of a David and Goliath struggle by small farmers against big seed companies.
At stake, they believe, is no less than control of the world's food supply.
But Trish Jordan, a Canadian spokesman for Monsanto, explains that requiring farmers to sign "technology use agreements" allows companies to recoup the cost of developing products.
"Farmers choose these products because of benefits they provide," Jordan says. "That's why we're successful as a company."
But Ottawa author Brewster Kneen, a fierce opponent of GM seeds, counters that biotechnology, as practised by companies like Monsanto, is not the answer.
"The point was never feeding the world or saving the environment," says Kneen, author of several books about agriculture and biotechnology, including Farmageddon: Food and the Future of Biotechnology. "It's about wealth, not about health."
"The erosion of biodiversity for food and agriculture severely compromises global food security," said Muller, who heads FAO's Natural Resources Management and Environment Department.
Muller's words resonate with farmers Meek and Sauriol, whose four daughters help with the painstaking work of cleaning seeds over the winter.