Sunday, August 8, 2010

Monsanto vs The World

This is the face of capitalism. Monsanto, a corporation whose business model wouldn't survive in a free market (no "Intellectual Property" laws enforced by the black-robed tyrants of the state would exist to sustain it), has 90% of the US market for genetically engineered seeds.

The two largest crops in the United States are soybeans and corn, with 90% and 60% of each of those being genetically modified, respectively. Go into any grocery store and see how many of the products you buy contain those two ingredients in one form or another. Then remember that there is no requirement to label food that has been genetically modified or contains such ingredients. Most of everything you eat daily probably has patent protected Monsanto genes in it. One capitalist (capitalism is a system that was created by the state and would not exist without the state) company therefore reaps the harvest of almost all the food sold in America.

Monsanto has been aggressive in going after farmers who violate its patents and intellectual "property", by, for example, saving seeds. They devote millions of dollars to prosecuting farmers who do so.

Take the case of Homan McFarling, a Mississippi farmer:

McFarling was one of Monsanto's first targets. The giant corporation sent the full weight of the law crashing down on the farmer's head, suing him and winning a judgment of $780,000 (he had originally bought $24,000 in seeds...


Preventing people from saving seeds and freely propagating crops has been tried before. In medieval times, merchants in the Levant strove mightily to corner the coffee market by refusing to export raw coffee beans that might be replanted. Their effort eventually failed, and coffee now flourishes in Latin America, South Asia, and southern Africa.

But Monsanto has patent law on its side. Monsanto has established for itself the right to claim ownership of genetic material -- a revolutionary step in the history of property rights.-Monsanto’s court triumph cloaks massive market power

As the author of the above quoted article says: Somehow, a single corporation has managed to use patent law to gain de facto control of the nation's two biggest crops -- and managed to annul the age-old right of seed-saving over a broad swath of farm country. Monsanto may have airtight logic on its side for patent law, but it has clearly run afoul of a much less-enforced branch of legal code: antitrust law.

A better idea is to abolish all intellectual "property" laws, then big corporations like Monsanto would have no ground to stand on in claiming that they "own" the genetic code of American's food supply.

It gets worse, though, as some GM (genetically modified) crops are now breaking free and are on the loose, mingling and evolving with non-GM plants (I guess it's wrong to keep Monsanto's "property" in the form of seeds, but okay if Monsanto's patent-protected genes escape the farm and spread in the wild).

Outside a grocery store in Langdon, N.D., two ecologists spotted a yellow canola plant growing on the margins of a parking lot this summer. They plucked it, ground it up and, using a chemical stick similar to those in home pregnancy kits, identified proteins that were made by artificially introduced genes. The plant was GM—genetically modified.

That's not too surprising, given that North Dakota grows tens of thousands of hectares of conventional and genetically modified canola—a weedy plant, known scientifically as Brassica napus var oleifera, bred by Canadians to yield vegetable oil from its thousands of tiny seeds. What was more surprising was that nearly everywhere the two ecologists and their colleagues stopped during a trip across the state, they found GM canola growing in the wild.

Nor does Monsanto claim ownership of the escaped plants, even those with multiple transgenes, according to company spokesman John Combest. "It has never been, nor will it be, Monsanto policy to exercise its patent rights where trace amounts of our patented traits are present in fields as a result of inadvertent means," although researchers would have to obtain a license from the company to work with the GM plant.-Genetically Modified Crop on the Loose and Evolving in U.S. Midwest

Oh, the key words are "trace amounts" I guess. But even then, you'd have to have a license from Monsanto to work with the plants! This isn't freedom and this isn't the free market, but statist big corporation apologists like Rush Limbaugh and "conservatives" of his ilk continue to sing the praises of big business.

Perhaps Percy Schmeiser had more than trace amounts of Monsanto's "property" invade his canola fields, because Monsanto sued him.

Monsanto's position was that it didn't matter whether Schmeiser knew or not that his canola field was contaminated with the Roundup Ready gene, or whether or not he took advantage of the technology (he didn't); that he must pay Monsanto their Technology Fee of $15./acre-

"Percy Schmeiser was mad as hell, and decided he wasn't going to take it.

Schmeiser has been growing canola -- the yellow-blossomed oilseed that used to be known as rapeseed -- for 40 years, and he knows his stuff. He's been experimenting, developing his own varieties, using his own seed and generally prospering with canola. reaping the benefits derived from growing an increasingly popular crop.

So when Monsanto, the giant multinational agro-chemical company that is at the forefront of developing genetically modified foods, accused him of patent infringement and demanded restitution for its seeds, his pride was hurt. He chose to fight rather than roll over and take it."

Next, it'll be genetically modified food animals, like chickens.

In the news today, some GM chickens escaped from an egg farm and ended up on Hilda Smith's organic cage-free egg farm, where Monchicken Corporation suspects they've interbred with the free roaming chickens of Hilda's farm.

Monchicken spokesperson Abigail Van Sue'em stated that cage-free egg farmers like Ms. Smith were benefiting from Monchicken's intellectual property without authorization, and that a major lawsuit is planned.


  1. I posted something about evil incarnate in the past. I'm no leftist but Monsanto is pure bull shit, evil. You're right about the ingredients.

  2. Intellectual property is unfortunately vital for development. Can it be abused? Sure, and not only in the instance you gave, but intellectual property is what made things like the steam engine and incandescent light bulbs possible - and profitable.

    When inventors can actually make a profit by creating something new, the incentive to develop is there. England's protection of intellctual property is why a disproportionate amount of invention occurs in the English speaking world.

    Patents aren't evil (especially if they are finite), nor is Monsanto evil because they hold patents. Monsanto is evil because they use their wealth not to continue developing improved products, but to litigiously (and even legislatively) defend their profit margin through political influence they have essentially bought.

    Monsanto is also guilty of producing some of the worst food ever tasted by mankind.

  3. I agree on the patent angle but Monsanto is ridiculous for bankrupting farmers.

  4. Intellectual property is unfortunately vital for development.

    Is it? Patent law as we know it is a fairly recent development in human history. We were seeing technological progress and innovation long before "intellectual property" was even a concept.

    The problem is also a basic moral one. An inventor's or developer's rights are infringed not when some one else copies their product, but when they are denied the right to use their own materials to create something new that some patent holder then claims is too similar to what was already "invented", even if the other guy wasn't even aware there was such an invention.

    Patents are just another evil form of statism, and so I'm not surprised, Ginx, that you support them. You really are quite the right-winger, aren't you?

  5. Is it? Patent law as we know it is a fairly recent development in human history. We were seeing technological progress and innovation long before "intellectual property" was even a concept.

    Yeah, like over the course of 1000 years in Europe, from about 400 AD to 1400, the plow was improved about a dozen times... now that is progress.

    The technological boom is, sadly, a direct result of the profitability of product development. We understood the idea of filaments for centuries and steam power for over a millenia before they became profitable enough to produce on a scale capable of changing the world. There's really nothing we use every day that isn't the result of a patent.

    Monsanto is primarily guilty of unfair business practices. If my Nirvana CD fell in your yard and you listened to it, you wouldn't have to pay Courtney Love just to listen to it. There is a certain loss of control one must concede once one's product has entered the market.

    There must also be the expectation that competition will not be stifled by patents, and that the consumers (farmers and food consumers, alike) ought to be fully informed about the nature of the product they are purchasing. In this respect, the government may have to step in and demand honesty from Monsanto, because there is a serious lack of full disclosure.

  6. the government may have to step in and demand honesty from Monsanto,


    The Government is Monsanto's buddy! None of what they're doing would be possible without the state!

  7. Ginx, you're even more ignorant (and naive) that I suspected.

    Why don't you take your pro-state, pro-capitalist bullshit and join Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity on right-wing radio.


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