Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby iop » Tue Jun 28, 2011 1:17 am UTC

Fuzzy_Wuzzy.bmp wrote:
iop wrote:The background to some of the Monsanto scare stories is mentioned earlier in this thread.

I'm not sure what you mean with this comment.

Did you read the thread?

I don't know how much of a problem not being able to sell something as GM-free is, however a non-GM farmer within pollinating distance of a GM-field can easily be bankrupted or forced into using GM-crop by GM companies. That seems like quite a problem.

Say you're a certified organic producer. Then your crop gets polluted by GM, and spoils a ship full of crops. How much money do you think that'll cost, and how likely it is that you'll keep your certification?
Also, the lawsuit thing is not realistic. Yes, there have been lawsuits against farmers who have tried to save seed. One farmer sprayed his crop with round-up, because he suspected it was resistant - and then went on to keep the seeds of the surviving plants. That sounds like totally unfair to the farmer that Monsanto sued him for breach of copyright, right? If all that had happened was cross-pollination, all he would have had to show were the records of where he got his seed (which, as I said, is something a farmer who wants to sell his produce, has to do, anyway), and he could possibly sue his neighbour for polluting his crop.

iop wrote:And who do you think would be buying GM seed in the first place?

Farmers? People who need food?

Farmers who would otherwise have bought hybrid seed. Not some poor schmuck who has been re-using seed for generations.

Also, you don't seem to understand. GM-seed isnt something you buy if you can afford it. You buy it so you can grow crops cheaper/grow more of them, thus saving money. So saying they're marketed to the rich is just being ridiculous.

And those who buy high-yield hybrids, or drought-resistant varieties, or pesticides also buy it because they want to be able to grow more crops.

However, the present situation is such that using GM-seed opens the door to great legal risks, takes control over seed use away from farmers, and siphons large amounts of money from a countrys agriculture to a company that has anything but the best interests of the populace at heart.

The money goes to the same company that sold the hybrid seeds before? Also, if it is such bad business to buy GM seed, why would anyone buy them in the first place? Oh yes, because Monsanto will spray GM pollen into the air and then come up with bogus lawsuits that bankrupts the illiterate farmers who aren't even able to keep receipts, so that they are then forced to buy - oh, wait, no, they're bankrupt already. Ah well, there goes a business model.

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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby Fuzzy_Wuzzy.bmp » Tue Jun 28, 2011 2:01 pm UTC

iop wrote:
Fuzzy_Wuzzy.bmp wrote:
iop wrote:The background to some of the Monsanto scare stories is mentioned earlier in this thread.

I'm not sure what you mean with this comment.

Did you read the thread?

So it is your claim that the one lawsuit against Percy Schmeiser that may very well be legitimate is representative of all of them? Including the roughly 250 that are settled confidentially each year? The examples in the report Monsanto vs. U.S. Farmers (http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/pubs/CFSMOnsantovsFarmerReport1.13.05.pdf) on pages 42-45 indicate otherwise. If you would like another source, how about Monsanto's own webpage:
http://www.monsanto.com/newsviews/Pages/gary-rinehart.aspx wrote:
Spoiler:
Gary Rinehart has been quoted in several articles as saying that Monsanto investigators approached him in his store in Missouri for no cause and threatened him. Articles have characterized Rinehart as “incredulous” that Monsanto would approach him as he is neither a farm owner nor a seed dealer.

Gary Rinehart was indeed approached by Monsanto investigators in response to a report of patent infringement. The investigators had seen unmarked, brown-bagged seed (generally indicative of saved seed) delivered to a couple of fields. When asked whom they should talk to about the farm, Gary Rinehart’s son, Jeremy, directed them to see his father at the store he operates. When investigators approached him at the store, Gary Rinehart acknowledged that he sharecropped with his brother. He was otherwise uncooperative. He became angry, attracting the attention of others in the store, prompting Monsanto’s representatives to leave. They were there for less than two minutes.

With the knowledge that there was saved seed on the property, and his statement that he sharecropped that property, Monsanto filed suit against Gary Rinehart. We had attempted to discuss the matter with him in the store, but he was uncooperative. Lawsuits are a legal, and often the only, option available when one party in a dispute is uncooperative.

As part of the lawsuit, Monsanto attorneys filed an affidavit stating that investigators had observed Gary Rinehart driving a pickup truck used to transport the saved seed. Gary Rinehart refuted this allegation. We conceded this point and determined that his nephew, Tim, was the person who planted the saved seed on Gary Rinehart’s land. We dismissed the case against Gary Rinehart.

Monsanto eventually reached an agreement to settle the case with Tim Rinehart, his brother’s son. The settlement involved Tim Rinehart agreeing to settle on the seed that he had planted. Interestingly, Tim Rinehart never followed through with the agreed settlement. The matter with Tim Rinehart remains unfulfilled to this day. Monsanto has not collected one cent and this farming operation remains unlicensed to use this technology.


The case was settled, with the only evidence presented being an anonymous tip and unmarked seed bags. While Monsanto says they have not yet been paid, the settlement is legally binding, so it is questionable how long it will remain uncollected.

iop wrote:Also, the lawsuit thing is not realistic. Yes, there have been lawsuits against farmers who have tried to save seed. One farmer sprayed his crop with round-up, because he suspected it was resistant - and then went on to keep the seeds of the surviving plants. That sounds like totally unfair to the farmer that Monsanto sued him for breach of copyright, right? If all that had happened was cross-pollination, all he would have had to show were the records of where he got his seed (which, as I said, is something a farmer who wants to sell his produce, has to do, anyway), and he could possibly sue his neighbour for polluting his crop.

Yes, all he'd need is 200,000$ or more for legal expenses and some way to keep his bussiness afloat without said 200k for the few years that the lawsuit would require. So the "lawsuit thing" is not only realistic, it is the present state of affairs. It's not some hypothetical I made up.

iop wrote:And who do you think would be buying GM seed in the first place?
Farmers? People who need food?

Farmers who would otherwise have bought hybrid seed. Not some poor schmuck who has been re-using seed for generations.

Really? Because that's exactly who's been buying GM-seed in India - poor schmucks who had been re-using seed for generations.

iop wrote:
Also, you don't seem to understand. GM-seed isnt something you buy if you can afford it. You buy it so you can grow crops cheaper/grow more of them, thus saving money. So saying they're marketed to the rich is just being ridiculous.

And those who buy high-yield hybrids, or drought-resistant varieties, or pesticides also buy it because they want to be able to grow more crops.

I'm glad we agree on this.

iop wrote:
However, the present situation is such that using GM-seed opens the door to great legal risks, takes control over seed use away from farmers, and siphons large amounts of money from a countrys agriculture to a company that has anything but the best interests of the populace at heart.

The money goes to the same company that sold the hybrid seeds before? Also, if it is such bad business to buy GM seed, why would anyone buy them in the first place? Oh yes, because Monsanto will spray GM pollen into the air and then come up with bogus lawsuits that bankrupts the illiterate farmers who aren't even able to keep receipts, so that they are then forced to buy - oh, wait, no, they're bankrupt already. Ah well, there goes a business model.

First, "Monsanto will spray GM pollen into the air"? Are you serious? You do realize plants produce pollen themselves, don't you?
Second, there is no evidence to suggest the farmers sued by Monsanto were either illiterate or failed to keep receipts. You're either unaware of who Monsanto has been suing, or have a very low opinion of U.S. farmers.
Third, farmers are either pressured to buy GM-seed or driven into bankruptcy by legal costs. Not both.

And there is another reason why farmers might buy GM-seed even if it might not be the most economical choice - marketing and social fads. As evidenced in University of Washington's researcher Glenn Stone's study (http://artsci.wustl.edu/~anthro/research/stone/stone480102.web.pdf) this was the case in India. You might think it's silly, but it turns out measuring a plants yield is difficult, with weather, use of fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides and variation in plant disease occurence and parasite populations all playing major roles in the final outcome.

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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby Heisenberg » Wed Jun 29, 2011 6:03 pm UTC

Fuzzy_Wuzzy.bmp wrote:Third, farmers are either pressured to buy GM-seed or driven into bankruptcy by legal costs. Not both.

And THAT'S the business model.

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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby iop » Thu Jun 30, 2011 12:31 am UTC

Fuzzy_Wuzzy.bmp wrote:
iop wrote:Also, the lawsuit thing is not realistic. Yes, there have been lawsuits against farmers who have tried to save seed. One farmer sprayed his crop with round-up, because he suspected it was resistant - and then went on to keep the seeds of the surviving plants. That sounds like totally unfair to the farmer that Monsanto sued him for breach of copyright, right? If all that had happened was cross-pollination, all he would have had to show were the records of where he got his seed (which, as I said, is something a farmer who wants to sell his produce, has to do, anyway), and he could possibly sue his neighbour for polluting his crop.

Yes, all he'd need is 200,000$ or more for legal expenses and some way to keep his bussiness afloat without said 200k for the few years that the lawsuit would require. So the "lawsuit thing" is not only realistic, it is the present state of affairs. It's not some hypothetical I made up.

I guess I'm just not aware of how corrupt the US justice system is. If Monsanto was filing frivolous lawsuits in the hope that farmers would settle, then surely they would eventually run into one farmer who can manage to sit them out (or get Greenpeace as backers), and then go and sue for massive damages with lots of publicity. But if Monsanto only files lawsuits that they think they'll win, then the farmers must have done something that would be considered illegal in the eyes of a judge, such as saving seed.

Second, there is no evidence to suggest the farmers sued by Monsanto were either illiterate or failed to keep receipts. You're either unaware of who Monsanto has been suing, or have a very low opinion of U.S. farmers.

Then how could they lose? Surely there must be an organization like Greenpeace who has an interest in bringing Monsanto down, who could support one of the farmers through the court battles. And yes, I find it quite plausible that there are farmers who think "WTF I cannot keep the seed? Screw you, Monsanto! Anyway, they'll never find out." Is that having a very low opinion of US farmers?

Third, farmers are either pressured to buy GM-seed or driven into bankruptcy by legal costs. Not both.

Yes, that wasn't very well thought through by me. Do you think this business model is the main reason US farmers are planting GM crops?

Re:India. Yes, there was indeed the government backed push (50% yield increase? Who would have thought that possible!) with too few, non-locally adapted varieties (particularly non-drought-resistant varieties), early on. Yet, seed companies happily sold seed to people who should never have bought it.
Meanwhile, about 75% of cotton in India comes from Bt-variants. The Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR) in India lists 131 varieties (pdf warning) by 2007, and is quite positive (pdf warning) about the effect. Quaim, the guy who published the crazy yield increases in 2003, has more data now, and, at least overall, it looks like Indian farmers aren't just stupid to adopt Bt-cotton. However, as is noted in the CICR report, the illiteracy of farmers (which you mentioned as well) is an issue in terms of resistance management - and that's potential bad news for Bt-cotton.

You might think it's silly, but it turns out measuring a plants yield is difficult, with weather, use of fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides and variation in plant disease occurence and parasite populations all playing major roles in the final outcome.

Measuring plant yield is quite straightforward, as is relative yield between different varieties that are planted side-by-side. See e.g. this document from CICR (pdf warning) for what they measure, and how they do trial design. It may be silly to point this out to you, but it is actually possible to scientifically assess plant yield, and to determine which plants are better.

However, as pointed out in the article you linked, things are different for farmers, who may not be going online to read the CICR trial results, who may not have enough land (and money) to run their own trials, and for whom it is more difficult to know whether this year, yield is higher because they bought the seed from the yellow box, or because it simply rained more. Furthermore, comparing yields nationwide may be a bit tricky, at least early on, when Bt-cotton adopters might have been simply the better educated farmers. With 75% penetrance of Bt-cotton, statistics become more solid, though, and I'd consider it in fact likely that indeed, Bt-cotton leads to increased yields and lower expenditures for pesticides (and with the government-mandated price cap on GM seed, farmers aren't as exploited as they could be).

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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby Heisenberg » Thu Jun 30, 2011 1:31 pm UTC

iop wrote:then the farmers must have done something that would be considered illegal in the eyes of a judge, such as saving seed.

This is what's ridiculous. These farmers have been saving seed year after year for generations. Now, due to Monsanto's negligent and careless spreading of their "intellectual property" through the air, their unwanted invasion of these farmer's land requires that they abandon this practice which is vital to their livelihoods? That's seriously fucked up.

"Hey guys! So... my nerve gas accidentally infected all of your cattle. But since I have a patent, I now own the reproductive rights of all of your cattle. So... if you could just slaughter them all right now, while I'm watching, that would be great. Thanks!"

The very idea that saving seed could somehow be illegal due to Monsanto's negligence is laughable. However, due to intimidation and use of the legal system to "make examples of" farmers who don't cooperate, these copywright trolls are destroying the seed-savers and forcing every single farmer into dependancy on this one corporation.

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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby iop » Thu Jun 30, 2011 2:29 pm UTC

Heisenberg wrote:
iop wrote:then the farmers must have done something that would be considered illegal in the eyes of a judge, such as saving seed.

This is what's ridiculous. These farmers have been saving seed year after year for generations. Now, due to Monsanto's negligent and careless spreading of their "intellectual property" through the air, their unwanted invasion of these farmer's land requires that they abandon this practice which is vital to their livelihoods? That's seriously fucked up.

Ok, so let's assume that at least some of the farmers who were pursued by Monsanto were (1) planting non-GM crops that were cross-pollinated by GM crops, and that (2) their crops weren't hybrids where saving seed wouldn't make much sense, and that (3) the farmer had not bought GM seed before.

So, how would Monsanto know? Not because the farmer is buying lots of Roundup, because that would mean that the farmer knew that there were GM seed, and not because a farmer had been buying a little bit of GM seed and a lot of non-GM seed, because that would also be somewhat suspicious, especially if the following year, all the saved and replanted seed was GM only (which is something Monsanto claims some farmers do)

According to the business model proposed by Fuzzy_Wuzzy.bmp, Monsanto would instead make a surprise inspection of a farm that has been surrounded by GM crops, which they're allowed to do in the US, apparently, and test either the seed or the crops. Now Monsanto would have to make a case before a judge that the farmer had knowingly saved GM seed. However, the farmer had never bought GM seed, had not treated his crops with Roundup (which would kill conventional crops), and there had only been a small fraction of seed that were genetically modified (unless the farmer had been extremely unlucky to pick exactly those plants for seed cleaning that had been cross-pollinated, for example by picking specifically the plants grown next to a neighbour's field - but even then: The farmer wouldn't have gotten any benefit from the GM crops because he wouldn't have have used Roundup on them). Do you have such a low opinion of the courts that you think a judge would side with Monsanto? Do you have such a low opinion of NGOs that you think they wouldn't support such an innocent farmer through the courts? In fact, in such a case it would be rather the opposite, that a farmer should be able to sue his neighbours (and possibly Monsanto) for polluting his fields, and making the crop unfit for export to Europe.

What Monsanto claims they're doing is that they collect records of farmers buying Roundup and that they make videos of farmers spraying Roundup on their fields, which, again, is something you'd only ever do if you knew that your crop is resistant to Roundup. That makes for a much more credible case to me. It makes it also more plausible why Monsanto isn't losing court battles right and left.

The very idea that saving seed could somehow be illegal if it was due to Monsanto's negligence is laughable.

That's entirely my point. But apparently many find this a lot more realistic than the idea that there are farmers who are knowingly breaching a contract.

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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby Heisenberg » Thu Jun 30, 2011 8:12 pm UTC

iop wrote:It makes it also more plausible why Monsanto isn't losing court battles right and left.
Monsanto isn't winning court battles right and left either. They're using the court and an enormous legal staff to force farmers into settlements.

They're hunting down anyone doing anything "suspicious" like posessing brown bags or speaking with the local seed-saver truck, invading their land, taking their own "evidence," waiting for the growing season to end so that all real evidence is destroyed, and then using copywright allegations to force farmers into settlements.

When the seeds that comprise your very livelihood are on the line, being right isn't enough to go to court for a years-long battle. These are farmers, not lawyers, and when Monsanto abuses the legal system, that results in a settlement detrimental to the farmer which affects the entire community of farmers, and these cases never reach a judge.

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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby CorruptUser » Thu Jun 30, 2011 8:43 pm UTC

Then the legal system itself needs to be reformed to prevent such abuses. I vote for either filing fees based on the size of the claim (e.g., .5% or something, so if you intend sue me for $50m in damages you have to pay $250k), or the plaintiff being required to pay for the defense. Both system do have the problem of screwing over the poor, but I believe the abuse of the legal system as is does even more.

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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby iop » Fri Jul 01, 2011 1:38 pm UTC

Heisenberg wrote:
iop wrote:It makes it also more plausible why Monsanto isn't losing court battles right and left.
Monsanto isn't winning court battles right and left either. They're using the court and an enormous legal staff to force farmers into settlements.

Or maybe the farmers did actually save seed, and don't see any point in going to court.

They're hunting down anyone doing anything "suspicious" like posessing brown bags or speaking with the local seed-saver truck, invading their land, taking their own "evidence," waiting for the growing season to end so that all real evidence is destroyed, and then using copywright allegations to force farmers into settlements.

When the seeds that comprise your very livelihood are on the line, being right isn't enough to go to court for a years-long battle. These are farmers, not lawyers, and when Monsanto abuses the legal system, that results in a settlement detrimental to the farmer which affects the entire community of farmers, and these cases never reach a judge.

So there are no farmer's associations in the US, who could help with legal advice. No NGOs who are skeptical of Monsanto's supposed abuse of the justice, and who could support a farmer through a frivolous lawsuit, after which the farmer could sue Monsanto for damages. Not even websites where farmers could find out who to contact in case Monsanto wrongfully accuses them of saving seed. And no incorruptible judge who wouldn't just believe Monsanto's allegations that a farmer, who didn't know that they were planting contaminated seed, had been doing it on purpose.

Because if there were any of these, then I'd expect big headlines "Farmer wins against Monsanto!" all over the internet. Alas, it's always "Monsanto wins". So either the US is a truly screwed up country full of truly screwed up people, or there are indeed a few farmers who are trying to breach contracts.

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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Jul 01, 2011 6:18 pm UTC

iop wrote:Not even websites where farmers could find out who to contact in case Monsanto wrongfully accuses them of saving seed.


My inner cynic wonders if that's why many sparsely populated parts of the US don't have internet access...

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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby Chuff » Sat Jul 02, 2011 6:06 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:
iop wrote:Not even websites where farmers could find out who to contact in case Monsanto wrongfully accuses them of saving seed.


My inner cynic wonders if that's why many sparsely populated parts of the US don't have internet access...

I believe it's because they're sparsely populated, actually.
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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby Fuzzy_Wuzzy.bmp » Sat Jul 02, 2011 10:15 pm UTC

iop wrote:
Heisenberg wrote:
iop wrote:It makes it also more plausible why Monsanto isn't losing court battles right and left.
Monsanto isn't winning court battles right and left either. They're using the court and an enormous legal staff to force farmers into settlements.

Or maybe the farmers did actually save seed, and don't see any point in going to court.

Or maybe they don't see any point in going to court because they don't have the financial means to wage a 5 year long legal battle against an army of lawyers.

iop wrote:So there are no farmer's associations in the US, who could help with legal advice. No NGOs who are skeptical of Monsanto's supposed abuse of the justice, and who could support a farmer through a frivolous lawsuit, after which the farmer could sue Monsanto for damages. Not even websites where farmers could find out who to contact in case Monsanto wrongfully accuses them of saving seed. And no incorruptible judge who wouldn't just believe Monsanto's allegations that a farmer, who didn't know that they were planting contaminated seed, had been doing it on purpose.

Because if there were any of these, then I'd expect big headlines "Farmer wins against Monsanto!" all over the internet. Alas, it's always "Monsanto wins". So either the US is a truly screwed up country full of truly screwed up people, or there are indeed a few farmers who are trying to breach contracts.

Legal advice and people to contact are, by themselves, not enough for a legal victory, except in the most simplistic of cases. Nor is an incorruptible judge enough, since there are many legal methods to prolong a court battle. And a judge that would prevent those methods would have the outcome of the trial appeal, since they are, after all, legal. And properly inclined NGO's don't have the means to help every, or even most, accused farmers through a long and costly trial.

Should Monsanto go to trial against a farmer that can afford a defense, I would not be surprised to see the farmer prevail, and even get awarded damages (defense cost + any money lost due to doubt over the GM-ness of his crops or whatever). But so what? Such a farmer would only be representative of a very small minority, and the damages certainly wouldn't bankrupt Monsanto. For all the other farmers, nothing would change.

So you see, you don't even need a corrupt legal system, merely a complicated one. And it certainly seems like there are damn few countries with simple legal systems.

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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby ikrase » Sat Jul 02, 2011 10:48 pm UTC

This reminds me too much of the nuclear debate. I dislike both sides in both debates. The one seems unwilling to admit safety problems, and is also too frequently corrupt for something requiring so much safety work. The other side reacts against entire technologies no matter how neccesary or capable of being safe, and tries to use 'common sense' to trump the decisions made by professional engineers and planners.
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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby iop » Sat Jul 02, 2011 11:13 pm UTC

Fuzzy_Wuzzy.bmp wrote:Legal advice and people to contact are, by themselves, not enough for a legal victory, except in the most simplistic of cases. Nor is an incorruptible judge enough, since there are many legal methods to prolong a court battle. And a judge that would prevent those methods would have the outcome of the trial appeal, since they are, after all, legal. And properly inclined NGO's don't have the means to help every, or even most, accused farmers through a long and costly trial.

Should Monsanto go to trial against a farmer that can afford a defense, I would not be surprised to see the farmer prevail, and even get awarded damages (defense cost + any money lost due to doubt over the GM-ness of his crops or whatever). But so what? Such a farmer would only be representative of a very small minority, and the damages certainly wouldn't bankrupt Monsanto. For all the other farmers, nothing would change.

A NGO would only need to win a few landmark cases (or one class-action lawsuit), as they'll recuperate defense costs, and since they'll most likely get awarded punitive damages - a company that is abusing the legal system by using their superior financial means to instigate frivolous lawsuits is exactly why punitive damages were put into place. And punitive damages are made to hurt. Once there has been such a landmark ruling, the other farmers would be a lot safer, since Monsanto will be virtually guaranteed to lose any of their frivolous cases that goes to court.

It is just a pity that there is no NGO like the ACLU that dislikes Monsanto and would support farmers who unknowingly had their fields contaminated by cross-pollination. Or maybe they simply haven't identified a case yet that would allow them to actually win - i.e. where there really was cross-pollination, and the farmer didn't then go and treat the growing crops with Roundup.

According to Monsanto, they have gone to court 11 times, and they have won every single time. Which is an amazingly good result assuming that even half of these were frivolous.

ikrase wrote:This reminds me too much of the nuclear debate. I dislike both sides in both debates. The one seems unwilling to admit safety problems, and is also too frequently corrupt for something requiring so much safety work. The other side reacts against entire technologies no matter how neccesary or capable of being safe, and tries to use 'common sense' to trump the decisions made by professional engineers and planners.

Oh, but there are problems with GMOs - US farmers can basically forget about selling their crops to Europe due to the danger of cross-pollination, for example, and widespread application of Bt-crops, even with good resistance management, will eventually lead to resistance against Bt, which will deal a heavy blow on organic farmers. But these are apparently a much less sexy topics (organic farmers spraying their fields?!?) than Monsanto wrongly accusing upstanding farmers and forcing them to buy GM crops. The whole story makes it also easier to swallow that there are so many farmers buying GM seed, because if farmers weren't buying GM seed because they were forced to, it might just mean that GM crops are actually advantageous. And we can't have that, can we?

Also, the agribusiness companies are idiots. They should have sold GM as "the logical next step in breeding", rather than this "awesome novel technology that can do miracles". And they should have taken the skeptics seriously, as opposed to treating them like ignorant n00bs. No wonder they're facing this backlash now.

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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby Fuzzy_Wuzzy.bmp » Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:58 pm UTC

iop wrote:A NGO would only need to win a few landmark cases (or one class-action lawsuit), as they'll recuperate defense costs, and since they'll most likely get awarded punitive damages - a company that is abusing the legal system by using their superior financial means to instigate frivolous lawsuits is exactly why punitive damages were put into place. And punitive damages are made to hurt. Once there has been such a landmark ruling, the other farmers would be a lot safer, since Monsanto will be virtually guaranteed to lose any of their frivolous cases that goes to court.

It is just a pity that there is no NGO like the ACLU that dislikes Monsanto and would support farmers who unknowingly had their fields contaminated by cross-pollination. Or maybe they simply haven't identified a case yet that would allow them to actually win - i.e. where there really was cross-pollination, and the farmer didn't then go and treat the growing crops with Roundup.

According to Monsanto, they have gone to court 11 times, and they have won every single time. Which is an amazingly good result assuming that even half of these were frivolous.

On pages 40-42 of Monsanto vs. U.S. Farmers there are 3 cases listed of farmers unknowingly planting Roundup Ready seeds, not spraying them with Roundup, and still being forced to settle in a court battle with Monsanto after spending a fortune in legal fees, and one of someone unknowingly planting Bt cotton, with similar results. But hey, they must have been guilty because someone would have helped them otherwise, right?
As for the 11 cases Monsanto won (through a judgement, not a settlement), well that's simple. They only go for a judgement if they think they'll win, else they settle (after forcing the defendant to spend as much as possible on legal fees). Why would you assume these 11 cases that saw their epilogue in court are representative of all the ones that were settled out of court? Unlike you, I'm not claiming that all of the accused farmers were guilty, but a few surely were, and lets say these 11 were among the guilty ones.

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Re: Belgian activists destroy GM potatos

Postby iop » Sun Jul 03, 2011 9:01 pm UTC

Fuzzy_Wuzzy.bmp wrote:
iop wrote:A NGO would only need to win a few landmark cases (or one class-action lawsuit), as they'll recuperate defense costs, and since they'll most likely get awarded punitive damages - a company that is abusing the legal system by using their superior financial means to instigate frivolous lawsuits is exactly why punitive damages were put into place. And punitive damages are made to hurt. Once there has been such a landmark ruling, the other farmers would be a lot safer, since Monsanto will be virtually guaranteed to lose any of their frivolous cases that goes to court.

It is just a pity that there is no NGO like the ACLU that dislikes Monsanto and would support farmers who unknowingly had their fields contaminated by cross-pollination. Or maybe they simply haven't identified a case yet that would allow them to actually win - i.e. where there really was cross-pollination, and the farmer didn't then go and treat the growing crops with Roundup.

According to Monsanto, they have gone to court 11 times, and they have won every single time. Which is an amazingly good result assuming that even half of these were frivolous.

On pages 40-42 of Monsanto vs. U.S. Farmers there are 3 cases listed of farmers unknowingly planting Roundup Ready seeds, not spraying them with Roundup, and still being forced to settle in a court battle with Monsanto after spending a fortune in legal fees, and one of someone unknowingly planting Bt cotton, with similar results. But hey, they must have been guilty because someone would have helped them otherwise, right?
As for the 11 cases Monsanto won (through a judgement, not a settlement), well that's simple. They only go for a judgement if they think they'll win, else they settle (after forcing the defendant to spend as much as possible on legal fees). Why would you assume these 11 cases that saw their epilogue in court are representative of all the ones that were settled out of court? Unlike you, I'm not claiming that all of the accused farmers were guilty, but a few surely were, and lets say these 11 were among the guilty ones.


Unlike you I'm not claiming that the the majority of the accused farmers were innocent, and that they were in trouble mainly due to cross-pollination. It is, however, highly plausible that farmers acquire GM seed unknowingly due to a mix-up by the seller (or when buying a farm where papers aren't in good order), or that farmers are incorrectly informed by the seed seller (though I hope that the farmers at least have some legal recourse against the sellers that got them into trouble; also, I fear that also guilty farmers might claim ignorance). In these cases, it does suck that the morally innocent farmers can still be considered guilty of patent violation (though not of breaching contract; it's a bit like when someone pays you with a fake $20 bill, which you then take to the bank. They'll take your money and shred it, and you are left with $20 less). It it is telling of the incompetence of Monsanto's PR department that they'd go against those farmers as well.

And yes, it is indeed unfortunate that the legally innocent farmers in the examples didn't have anyone to help them bring Monsanto down. It appears that they didn't go bankrupt, so at least they must have gotten some money out of the "forced" settlements.

Seriously, I can't believe that I've been arguing in favor of those Monsanto suckers all this time. Still, I contend that cross-pollination is not the main issue here, and that Monsanto is not forcing farmers to buy their product via frivolous lawsuits - though their aggressive legal pursuit of farmers without an equally or more aggressive campaign to make sure farmers make informed purchases is clearly morally reprehensible.


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