Lords of the (GM) Harvest

As if U.S. farmers weren't in enough trouble, now the "seed police" are after them. Monsanto, the world leader in genetically modified grains, is pursuing fines and jail sentences for farmers who use their seed in noncontractual ways-such as saving it and sowing it the next season. The Center for Food Safety has released an investigative review of Monsanto's use of U.S. patent law to crack down on farmers. Monsanto has filed 90 lawsuits against U.S. farmers in 25 states that involve 147 farmers and 39 small businesses or farm companies, according to the report.

  • 500: The number of U.S. farmers under investigation annually by Monsanto.
  • $10 million: Monsanto's annual budget (plus 75 staff) devoted to investigating and prosecuting U.S. farmers.
  • $15,253,602: The total recorded judgments granted to Monsanto for farmer lawsuits.
  • $3,052,800: The largest recorded judgment in favor of Monsanto as a result of a farmer lawsuit.
  • 8 months: The prison sentence given to a Tennessee farmer convicted of violating an agreement with Monsanto.

Sources: "Monsanto vs. U.S. Farmers 2005" (The Center for Food Safety); The Associated Press.

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Sojourners Magazine April 2005
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