To start this post, let’s define a few terms:
A patent for an invention is a grant of a property right by the Government to the inventor (or his or her heirs or assigns), acting through the Patent and Trademark Office. The term of the patent shall be 20 years from the date on which the application for the patent was filed in the United States or, if the application contains a specific reference to an earlier filed application under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121 or 365(c), from the date the earliest such application was filed, subject to the payment of maintenance fees. The right conferred by the patent grant extends only throughout the United States and its territories and possessions. [Source]
GMO – Genetically Modified Organism:
A genetically modified organism (GMO) or genetically engineered organism (GEO) is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. These techniques, generally known as recombinant DNA technology, use DNA molecules from different sources, which are combined into one molecule to create a new set of genes. This DNA is then transferred into an organism, giving it modified or novel genes. Transgenic organisms, a subset of GMOs, are organisms which have inserted DNA that originated in a different species. Some GMOs contain no DNA from other species and are therefore not transgenic but cisgenic. [Source]
Now, let’s talk about a company called Monsanto Technology [http://www.monsanto.com/].
“Monsanto is an agricultural company. When farmers succeed, we succeed. Using the tools of modern biology, we help farmers grow more yield sustainably so they can produce more and conserve more. Afterall, it is the world’s farmers that truly feed, clothe and fuel our growing world.
We produce leading seed brands in large-acre crops like corn, cotton, and oilseeds (soybeans and canola), as well as small-acre crops like vegetables. We also produce leading in-the-seed trait technologies for farmers that are aimed at protecting their yield, supporting their on-farm efficiency and reducing their on-farm costs.”
Monsanto currently owns US Patents on the following crops: Corn, Cotton, Soybean, and Canola. But it also owns the companies Seminis and De Ruiter. Seminis owns the patent on Dry Bean, Lettuce, Pea, Broccoli, Seedless Watermelon, Garden Bean, Watermelon, Cucumber, Carrot, Tomato and Papaya. De Ruiter Seeds is located in Bleisqijk Netherlands, so it does not currently own any US patients that I can find.
You may be saying to yourself, that this sounds good. That these companies have increased land productivity, and have removed disease vulnerabilities in its products. This is the problem.
“Currently, up to 85 percent of U.S. corn is genetically engineered as are 91 percent of soybeans and 88 percent of cotton (cottonseed oil is often used in food products). It has been estimated that upwards of 70 percent of processed foods on supermarket shelves–from soda to soup, crackers to condiments–contain genetically engineered ingredients.” [Source]
I don’t want to get into the issue of if GMO food is a good thing to eat or not. There is lots of debate on this topic, and you can do a search on google to explore this question.
Those percentages of plants are now controlled legally by one group of people or company. They are owned (under patent).
Do we really think it is a good idea to allow a small group of people to control that percentage of our food source?
What happens if they can’t keep up with the supply of their seeds, or if something happens so their seeds are no longer viable?
Anyone that has done any work with seeds, also knows that you can’t control what type of seeds pollinate your seeds. Let’s say you are one of the 9% that plants non Monsanto seeds for soybeans in your field. And the farm next to you is using Monsanto seeds. Your seeds will be pollinated by the Monsanto crops. Then you harvest your seeds, and then scrub them (get them ready to plant next year). You then plant your seeds the following year. You now have a percentage of Monsanto plants in your field. This percentage will get higher each year. So you may be saying to yourself, so what. You are now in violation of the patent that Monsanto has on their seeds. You are now planting illegal seed. How can that be? Let’s look at a corn patient (first one I found on a search for Monsanto patents), corn variety CH060503. Here is the problem, they own the seed, but they also own any plant that is a result of pollination from one of their plants.
“The invention thus relates to the plants, seeds and tissue cultures of the variety CH060503, and to methods for producing a corn plant produced by crossing a corn plant of variety CH060503 with itself or with another corn plant, such as a plant of another variety.” [Source]
See the problem, within a few years, all of your plants and seeds are now owned by Monsanto or one of its daughter companies.
So, you are now saying, they don’t care, they won’t come after that small farmer for Patent violation. Take a look at this article, it is a little out dated, but you get the idea: http://www.mindfully.org/GE/2005/Monsanto-Prosecuting-Farmers12jan05.htm
But that is not the end of it. They are currently opening a new facility in China, the first Biotechnology Research Center in China. They are also pushing into Argentina and Brazil trying to get a market share there. In 2007, they also had an employee of theirs bribe an Indonesian government official, to bypass an EPA study.
If the trend continues, eventually Monsanto will own all the food production in the US and most of the other countries. There are only a hand full of countries that currently do not allow GMO food products in them.
And how does the government let them continue? Here is a list of former employees that are now on the Government payroll: Clarence Thomas (Supreme Court Judge), Michael Taylor (US EPA), Ann Veneman (former United States Secretary of Agriculture), Linda Fisher (US EPA), Michael Friedman (FDA) and several more. For details, go to: http://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/news/?id=c255ae23-f41a-470d-8460-a65d65df6f58