Big bad companies...

cdn_bc_ca
#1
Wow, the more I think about this the more I'm getting scared. I just went through a chain of events this past week which led me to pretty much dedicate the entire day googling about various topics regarding huge multi-national companies and their influence over politics, policies, and consumers.

It started out with my family and I watching a seemingly harmless movie called WALL-E. While watching it, I became increasingly fixated on the concept that one company could rule the world and basically exploit everything to the point of ruin. I thought to myself, something like that couldn't possibly happen... Well, fast forward to yesterday when I watched Food Inc. Wow! Basically, the entire food industry in the US is controlled by a select few multi-national companies. One company, in particular, caught my attention due to it's RIAA and MPAA like nastiness... is called Monsanto. This is the company that brought you the favorites... PCB's, rGBH, Agent Orange, Sacchrine, Roundup (herbicide), and GMO's (genetically modified plants).

Then I decided to do some searching about this company and the more I look, the gloomier it gets. I cannot shake the belief that Monsanto wants to rule the agricultural world by force. When I mean "by force", I mean controlling farmers who use their seed to the point where:
1. They cannot reuse seed from the previous year which farmers have traditionally done. They must buy new seed each year from guess who?
2. They must use Roundup pesticides (as the seeds are immune to them). An application of Roundup pesticide kills everything except the plant.
3. Farmers are encouraged to rat out their neighboring farms if they suspect that they are using Monsanto seeds without permission.
4. Forced to pay a technology fee per acre.
The list goes on...

The most startling piece of news that struck me is that Monsanto has been on a RIAA-like suing frenzy against farmers. Percy Schmeiser is one such canadian farmer. He's been accused of using the patented seed without permission even though he has no clue of how those plants got into his property. Long story short, the court ruled that if a canola plant is cross-pollenated with the patented canola plant (from a neighboring farm), and is found to contain the patented gene, that plant becomes the property of Monsanto and thereby subject to patent laws and royalties. WTF? Also, if a bird eats the special seed, ****'s on your property and a plant grows, then you are violating a patent law? Furthermore, any GMO seeds that fall off during transport and germinate also fall under this condition. Wow! Fortunately, this made it to the Supreme Court of Canada, and they saw some sense in the madness and overturned the decision.... thank god.

Now Monsanto wants to buy up all the seed companies so that farmers will have no choice but to buy GMO seeds.

You wouldn't believe how many former Monsanto employees are now working for the FDA, USDA, advisory committees, and science councils for the US gov.

After all this, one thing is clear. We cannot let these companies control the world because they value profit over all else.

Watch Food Inc. It's good.

Here's some links for further reading (Yes I realize that some of these links are really old news, but still...)
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsant...wth_Hormone.29 (external - login to view)
Percy Schmeiser - Heartbreak in the Heartland: The True Cost of Genetically Engineered* Crops (external - login to view)
Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Monsanto's Modus Operandi (MO)* - Monsanto Roundup (Glyphosate) (external - login to view)
Millions Against Monsanto Campaign - Organic Consumers Association (external - login to view)
Monsanto files patent for new invention: the pig | Greenpeace International (external - login to view)
Monsanto Exposť BC Seeds (external - login to view)
Last edited by cdn_bc_ca; Nov 5th, 2009 at 08:58 PM..
 
TenPenny
#2
The whole point of the movie Wall-E was to draw attention to the Walmartization of the world.

While Monsanto is a nasty piece of work, you do have to remember that farmers don't have to buy seed from Monsanto.
 
taxslave
#3
I think that farmers should sue Monsanto for allowing their Frankenseeds get onto the fields and thereby ruining a crop. If more consumers were aware of the dangers of eating Frankenfood and bought only organic foods this company would soon go belly up.
 
cdn_bc_ca
#4
Yeah, and Walmart is a big company.

I realize farmers don't have to buy seed from Monsanto, but they do and in ever increasing numbers as Monsanto corners the seed market.
 
gerryh
#5
the sky is falling....the sky is falling.......
 
cdn_bc_ca
#6
Quote: Originally Posted by gerryhView Post

the sky is falling....the sky is falling.......

Hello? It's been falling for a while now...
 
TenPenny
#7
Quote: Originally Posted by cdn_bc_caView Post

Yeah, and Walmart is a big company.

I realize farmers don't have to buy seed from Monsanto, but they do and in ever increasing numbers as Monsanto corners the seed market.

Which means you should blame the farmers.
 
Cliffy
#8
It would be interesting to know what percentage of farmers are ma & pa operations and how many are multinational agri-biz monstrosities. Agri-biz turns whole counties into mono cultures. Farming ain't what it used to be. And yes, Monsanto is a scary monster more dangerous than the USSR was during the cold war because they are conquering the world without litigation.
 
taxslave
#9
Quote: Originally Posted by CliffyView Post

It would be interesting to know what percentage of farmers are ma & pa operations and how many are multinational agri-biz monstrosities. Agri-biz turns whole counties into mono cultures. Farming ain't what it used to be. And yes, Monsanto is a scary monster more dangerous than the USSR was during the cold war because they are conquering the world without litigation.

Cliffy: I think you miss wrote. Monsanto is conquering the world without weapons. They will litigate at the drop of a seed.
Agribiz and Monsanto go hand in hand like a priest with a little boy.
 
cdn_bc_ca
#10
Quote: Originally Posted by TenPennyView Post

Which means you should blame the farmers.

How so?
Last edited by cdn_bc_ca; Nov 6th, 2009 at 12:18 PM..Reason: removed unnecessary rudeness...
 
Cliffy
#11
Quote: Originally Posted by taxslaveView Post

Cliffy: I think you miss wrote. Monsanto is conquering the world without weapons. They will litigate at the drop of a seed.
Agribiz and Monsanto go hand in hand like a priest with a little boy.

You are right. I meant conquering the world with litigation. My bad.
 
Tonington
#12
Quote: Originally Posted by taxslaveView Post

I think that farmers should sue Monsanto for allowing their Frankenseeds get onto the fields and thereby ruining a crop. If more consumers were aware of the dangers of eating Frankenfood and bought only organic foods this company would soon go belly up.

Naive. Monsanto sells seed. Some of which isn't under Mosanto's name. They are very aware of market trends, look at some of their acquisitions in the last decade. It's not all bio-tech. With their market share, they are not likely to go belly up unless humans start evolving chloroplasts in their skin...
 
Tonington
#13
Quote: Originally Posted by cdn_bc_caView Post

How so?

If they perceive a problem, they could form co-ops and have their own seed production. Some farmers produce the seed in some years, and in other years they would be producing crop for market. Bitching about Monsanto doesn't accomplish anything.
 
bobnoorduyn
#14
Quote: Originally Posted by CliffyView Post

It would be interesting to know what percentage of farmers are ma & pa operations and how many are multinational agri-biz monstrosities.

I don't know how many you could consider "agri-biz monstrosities", I worked with a fellow whose family farmed in the neighbourhood of 30 quarters, a monstrosity indeed, but still a family operation. I have friends who farm on a smaller scale, you need at least 6 quarters to make a descent living full time, and off farm income by one spouse is usually necessary as well to cover for the bad years.

I have heard nothing but complaints about Monsanto for the past 15 years, there is reason to worry. How they even caught Percy Schmeiser, and spy on others is underhanded, they fly over a suspect field and dump roundup on it. No matter how many CAR's (Canadian Air Regulations) and other statutes they violate in the process, the end justifies the means, right?
 
cdn_bc_ca
#15
Quote: Originally Posted by ToningtonView Post

If they perceive a problem, they could form co-ops and have their own seed production. Some farmers produce the seed in some years, and in other years they would be producing crop for market. Bitching about Monsanto doesn't accomplish anything.

Oh yeah! no problem, form a co-op. Why didn't we all think of that? I'll stop my bitching now, I feel so stupid in your presence. In fact, I think I'll write a letter to all the farmers saying that Tonington has come up with an awesome idea in 2 sentences that would solve everything. All hail Tonington!

Debt, termination of contracts, and general untrustworthiness of farmers towards each other (thanks for Monsanto's ploys) are some of the main reasons.

I think you underestimate the power of a large multi-national corp. It's influence over politics, legislation, and farmers livelihood.
 
bobnoorduyn
#16
Quote: Originally Posted by ToningtonView Post

If they perceive a problem, they could form co-ops and have their own seed production. Some farmers produce the seed in some years, and in other years they would be producing crop for market. Bitching about Monsanto doesn't accomplish anything.

They have co-ops, I belonged to three of them at one time, but that's not the whole issue. The idea that Monsanto can successfully sue a farmer because GM seed ended up in his crop is ludicrous, it's like someone being able to sue because someone else dumped stolen goods on your land. Seeds can be spread by nature, I've some across bags of seed on grid roads that have obviously fallen off someone's truck. Finders keepers, if you don't sign a contract with the supplier they should have no recourse. Monsanto is another case of litigiousness run amok. We run the risk of becoming more like the US were money buys justice if Monsanto, and others are allowed free reign in civil courts.
 
Tonington
#17
Quote: Originally Posted by cdn_bc_caView Post

Oh yeah! no problem, form a co-op. Why didn't we all think of that? I'll stop my bitching now, I feel so stupid in your presence. In fact, I think I'll write a letter to all the farmers saying that Tonington has come up with an awesome idea in 2 sentences that would solve everything. All hail Tonington!

If you're going to be juvenile, I'm not going to discuss anything with you.

Quote: Originally Posted by bobnoorduynView Post

They have co-ops, I belonged to three of them at one time, but that's not the whole issue. The idea that Monsanto can successfully sue a farmer because GM seed ended up in his crop is ludicrous, it's like someone being able to sue because someone else dumped stolen goods on your land. Seeds can be spread by nature, I've some across bags of seed on grid roads that have obviously fallen off someone's truck. Finders keepers, if you don't sign a contract with the supplier they should have no recourse. Monsanto is another case of litigiousness run amok. We run the risk of becoming more like the US were money buys justice if Monsanto, and others are allowed free reign in civil courts.

How many cases has Monsanto successfully won against farmers who happen to find the seed in their field? Most of the lawsuits Monsanto brings forth are against farmers who break agreements with them, not farmers who happen to find the seed on their field.

In the end, the Supreme Court ruled that Percy Schmeiser's profits were not improved by the presence of the Roundup ready canola in his crop. He paid nothing to Monsanto, and the fact that the SC ruled in his favour 9-0 means that it is not worth Monsanto's time, or money to throw it away on these cases.

That was a precedent setting case. Monsanto can't have their legal bills paid, even though they won the case on patent infringement. So why would they bother paying people to check neighboring farmers fields, when they can't get any money from them, and can't get their legal bills paid for? That is all cost, and no benefit.
 
cdn_bc_ca
#18
Quote: Originally Posted by ToningtonView Post

If you're going to be juvenile, I'm not going to discuss anything with you.

My apologies. I thought you were juvenile by making the original co-op statement.

Quote: Originally Posted by ToningtonView Post

How many cases has Monsanto successfully won against farmers who happen to find the seed in their field? Most of the lawsuits Monsanto brings forth are against farmers who break agreements with them, not farmers who happen to find the seed on their field.

In the end, the Supreme Court ruled that Percy Schmeiser's profits were not improved by the presence of the Roundup ready canola in his crop. He paid nothing to Monsanto, and the fact that the SC ruled in his favour 9-0 means that it is not worth Monsanto's time, or money to throw it away on these cases.

That was a precedent setting case. Monsanto can't have their legal bills paid, even though they won the case on patent infringement. So why would they bother paying people to check neighboring farmers fields, when they can't get any money from them, and can't get their legal bills paid for? That is all cost, and no benefit.

It's all about influence and threat. The benefit to Monsanto is fear. Farmers don't grow money... Going to court to fight Monsanto, even if it was a slam dunk win for them, would probably put them into financial ruin. That is the threat. One of the links indicates that most cases get settled out of court for a fraction of the cost of a long and drawn out legal battle. The fear of getting sued into oblivion is a strong influence for others to get into line.

That farmer who took Monsanto all the way up to the Supreme Court could have just settled for about a fraction of the cost. But since he didn't, he now has spent over $200,000 of his retirement savings in legal costs. Monsanto probably made $200,000 in a fraction of a second, this fellow probably took a better part of his life to do that. All for what? A precedent? We should be applauding this fellow for creating a precedent funded by his own money and donations so that Monsanto cannot go after every farmer that just accidentally happened to have a GM plant growing on his field (either from a bird dropping the seed, crapping it out, or from cross-pollination, etc. etc).
Last edited by cdn_bc_ca; Nov 6th, 2009 at 06:00 PM..
 
Tonington
#19
Precedent is pretty important. Would you hire a lawyer and sue someone if you couldn't get any money out of them? If so, why? If you're a farmer who doesn't use their product, why would you fear them when they can't get money out of you?
 
Niflmir
#20
Quote: Originally Posted by cdn_bc_caView Post

It's all about influence and threat. The benefit to Monsanto is fear. Farmers don't grow money... Going to court to fight Monsanto, even if it was a slam dunk win for them, would probably put them into financial ruin. That is the threat. One of the links indicates that most cases get settled out of court for a fraction of the cost of a long and drawn out legal battle. The fear of getting sued into oblivion is a strong influence for others to get into line.

That farmer who took Monsanto all the way up to the Supreme Court could have just settled for about a fraction of the cost. But since he didn't, he now has spent over $200,000 of his retirement savings in legal costs. Monsanto probably made $200,000 in a fraction of a second, this fellow probably took a better part of his life to do that. All for what? A precedent? We should be applauding this fellow for creating a precedent funded by his own money and donations so that Monsanto cannot go after every farmer that just accidentally happened to have a GM plant growing on his field (either from a bird dropping the seed, crapping it out, or from cross-pollination, etc. etc).

What exactly did Monsanto do? They made a type of plant and sold seeds of that type of plant. What sort of responsibility are they supposed to have? Are bullet sellers liable for the murders the bullets are used for? Are vehicle makers liable for drunk driving deaths?

They seem to have a bad name for producing some monstrously unpopular GMO's (and lawsuits) but at the end of the day, it was our government who said they were okay for release into Canada.

It is hard to imagine what basis a lawsuit against them could have.
 
cdn_bc_ca
#21
Yes, precedent is important, that is why this farmer had to stand up for himself and set a precedent for other farmers to follow. Otherwise, the practice of relentlessly suing farmers just because a GM plant just happened to be growing on their field would still continue.

As for your second question, to put it simply, if I were a big company with $100 and you only had $5 dollars, I could threaten you with a lawsuit and give you the option of paying $1 to settle out of court. If you chose to pay the $1, then I win because then I can go after other people and force an out of court settlement as well - instilling fear amongst the masses.

On the other hand, if you chose to take me on... and you lose, well, then I win and you helped me set a precedent to go after everyone else and in the process bankrupted yourself too. If you win the case, however, I also win because it took $6 dollars to pay for legal costs... you only have $5 dollars.... now you are in debt and risk bankruptcy. For me, this is only one specific case. I could come up with a myriad of excuses to sue because, you know, patent lawyers are very creative.

Just look at how the RIAA has been going after alleged copyright violators. It has been proven time and time again that your IP address does not link to an individual person, yet they still sue people based on this assumption. They've even sued dead people. Why? Cause they have the money to do dumb things... and you don't.

The fear of getting sued and facing huge financial costs that could put you into bankruptcy has led most people to settle out of court.
 
cdn_bc_ca
#22
Quote: Originally Posted by NiflmirView Post

What exactly did Monsanto do? They made a type of plant and sold seeds of that type of plant. What sort of responsibility are they supposed to have? Are bullet sellers liable for the murders the bullets are used for? Are vehicle makers liable for drunk driving deaths?

They seem to have a bad name for producing some monstrously unpopular GMO's (and lawsuits) but at the end of the day, it was our government who said they were okay for release into Canada.

It is hard to imagine what basis a lawsuit against them could have.

Well, they patented a type of seed that resists their Roundup pesticide. Roundup, as you know, kills everything. So, as a farmer, instead of spraying your fields with multiple pesticides to kill different varieties of weeds, you could just use the "Roundup ready" seed and then just spray one pesticide to kill everything except the crop.

The problem is that they patented the seed and put draconian restrictions on how the seed is used. For example, you cannot reuse seed from one year to the next. You must buy new seed from them. Second, you must use Roundup pesticides and fertilizers. You must pay a technology fee that is calculated per acre. The list goes on. In order to enforce these policies, M has investigators which, under the contract, gives them the right to enter your farm and investigate without cause.

Then they found that some farmers were lending their surplus roundup ready seed to their neighbours. Bad idea. One thing leads to another and M cannot control or figure out if a farmer willingly or accidentally obtained these patented seeds without permission for use on their own farm.

The other complication is that plants that did not contain this patented protein cross-pollinated with other plants from neighbouring farms that did. The result is that the seeds of these plants now contained the patented protein. These seeds were then used for the next years crop which M says is a violation of their patent.

I can't say much about the government, but when companies are allow to make large political contributions, I cannot believe that they have our best interests at hand.
 
Cannuck
#23
Quote: Originally Posted by taxslaveView Post

If more consumers were aware of the dangers of eating Frankenfood and bought only organic foods this company would soon go belly up.

What is Frankenfood and what is the danger?
 
bobnoorduyn
#24
Quote: Originally Posted by ToningtonView Post

In the end, the Supreme Court ruled that Percy Schmeiser's profits were not improved by the presence of the Roundup ready canola in his crop. He paid nothing to Monsanto, and the fact that the SC ruled in his favour 9-0 means that it is not worth Monsanto's time, or money to throw it away on these cases.

That was a precedent setting case. Monsanto can't have their legal bills paid, even though they won the case on patent infringement. So why would they bother paying people to check neighboring farmers fields, when they can't get any money from them, and can't get their legal bills paid for? That is all cost, and no benefit.

I admit I haven't followed this since leaving Sask, though it was in the news continuously prior. Good on Mr Schmeiser, and it shows that American justice hasn't migrated North to any great extent. The fact that a resolution took seven years from start to finish is mighty hard on an individual, not so much for a behemoth like Monsanto. A victory for the little guy, up here at least.
 
Cannuck
#25
Quote: Originally Posted by CliffyView Post

It would be interesting to know what percentage of farmers are ma & pa operations and how many are multinational agri-biz monstrosities.

In Canada, the majority are neither (at least the successful ones)
 

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