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Can I See Your License for those Plants, Sir? 445

McGruff writes: "A Canadian court has ruled that a farmer growing genetically modified canola without a license violated Monsanto's patent and owes damages. Percy Schmeiser claims that the seeds blew onto his farm from passing seed trucks and from neighboring farms. The court held that regardless of whether he planted them deliberately or if he merely found them growing on his farm, it was his responsibility to destroy the seeds and seedlings or pay royalties. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is carrying the article and the Federal Court of Canada has the full text of the ruling in PDF form."
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Can I See Your License for those Plants, Sir?

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  • ...is it going to be mandatory? or will they force every farmer to get a licence to farm, after passing an exam in which they'll have to know and recognize EVERY single specie of vegetable/animal to avoid growing it?

    cool.
  • by Kris Warkentin ( 15136 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @06:18AM (#327372) Homepage
    Monsanto is to Microsoft what the Borg are to Dr. Evil (Austin Powers). Bill's pathetic little attempts to take over the world with some crummy software has got nothing on the company that owns the genetic rights at least one ingredient in something like 80% of all the food we eat. If that doesn't scare you, I bet you're running an unpatched version of Bind (or IE 5 ;-)

    *sing* I'm a karma whore and I'm okay....
    I work all night and I post all day
  • So if had a 10,000 acre farm, I would be responsible for investigating every square foot (metre?) of said farm, and take a sample of every growing plant on said farm, and bring it in for genetic analysis, otherwise risk being sued for patent infringment?? I don't get it?
  • by banuaba ( 308937 ) <drbork@nOspaM.hotmail.com> on Friday March 30, 2001 @06:19AM (#327375)
    God is suing, well, everybody, for violating his patent on cellular mitosis. Many people are using the 'my cells do it on thier own, I don't even know what that word means' defence, but the judge involved does not buy that. He says 'As soon as you realized that you weren't dead, you should have started paying the royalties, scumass.'


    Brant
  • by gwizah ( 236406 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @06:19AM (#327377) Homepage
    Hmmm, I could have sworn I was reading something a few years back regarding monsato. It was about them introducing a type of seed that could not produce seeds once it germinated. This was so that farmers would have to continue buying crop seed from monsato every season. I wonder what would happen if somehow these seeds "blew off a truck" and began spreading slowly? Would this contribute to a worldwide food shortage?
  • by grammar nazi ( 197303 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @06:19AM (#327378) Journal
    Percy Schmeiser claims that the seeds blew onto his farm from passing seed trucks and from neighboring farms.

    That's the excuse that I used when the cops found my harvest of Mary Jane! Trust me, it doesn't hold up in court!

  • by ishrat ( 235467 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @06:20AM (#327379) Homepage
    So next time you could have patent owning companies purposely mixing some of their seeds with normal seeds and then claiming the present crops be destroyed or ask for royalties.
  • ok. At least the court let him just destroy it and avoid the payment, it would suck if he was forced to pay royalties AND destroy the crop.

    The world never ceases to amaze me. I cannot describe it any better.

    Arathres

  • It was evident he knew that the plants were there since he harvested the seed and replanted.

  • by shaka ( 13165 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @06:21AM (#327382)
    This is truly fantastic, and it doesn't end with poor farmers.
    For instance, say you're eating a genetically modified apple. The seeds drop into your flowerpot and starts growing, and voilà - you have to pay!

    Would something like the echelon movement do here? What I mean is that people include words that trigger echelon in sigs and what not. In the same spirit, people could just get their hands on lots and lots of genetically modified and patented seeds, and plant them everywhere all over the earth - in public places, parks, governmental areas.

    Not that that would be good for our poor planet, since we have no idea what can come of this genetic engineering with nature...
  • .... and spread a few of the new seeds around the world (after copyrighting the DNA, of course). Can I then (in about 20 years time), sue the hell out of everbody for misuse ? What is going on here ?!
  • I was under the impression that you could create for your own use, a device of any kind, whether patented or not. It is only illegal to sell the product. Also, perchance all farmers should sue monsanto for damages, since due to their failure to keep their seeds under control, (ie: cover their trucks), the farmers workload has dramatically increased. Of course, the farmer could be a thief...
  • Not likely, since plants that can't reproduce correctly aren't going to be a big threat to the other members of the ecosystem that have figured out how to take that big next step :)

  • Genetic information wants to be free. (like beer)
  • I find this interesting, because they have apparently patented the seed. Correct me if I'm wrong, but under trademark law (not patent law), you have to protect your product from being diluted. It seems to me that they took inadequate protections to keep their product safe. Of course, because it's patent law, it doesn't matter. Maybe it should be uinder different law. Maybe companies should leave his retirement fund alone...of course, I'm just sticking up for the little guy now. He may have been malicious for all I know ;)
  • by SamBaughman ( 74713 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @06:24AM (#327389) Journal
    What I find interesting is that Schmeiser is counter-suing Monsanto for contaminating his crop.

    If his neighbor buys the seed, and he doesn't, but a bee pollenates between the two plants (I assume this happens, but I don't know for sure), and his seeds start to contain the Monsanto 'patented genes', then what? The decision Monsanto won says that he STILL owes them royalties.

    I think this is the ultimate form of 'viral' marketing -- by selling to one farmer, and shutting up for a long time, they could (potentially) get all farmers in Canada (and, potentially, the U.S.) to owe them money.

    *sniff* Hmmm... *sniff* *sniff* something smells rotten. *sniiiiiiiiff* I think it's coming from the patent offices around the world...

  • by jjr ( 6873 )
    It is hard control a product like which is self replicating. It is almost like software in a since it is very hard to stop copying. Especialy when you have your product reproducing it. I guess they are trying to make a stand on it now so other will not do the same. I wonder if thsi could be a new business model plant your product in someone yard then demand money for it. Let me go to the patent office right now.
  • good article with realvideo here [tv.cbc.ca]. i think percy should counter sue Monsanto for allowing nature to diseminate their genetically altered seeds into his field. they have contaminated his crops.

    this whole thing make me sick. here [www.gene.ch] is an account from a meeting where Percy spoke.
  • Percy Schmeiser claims that the seeds blew onto his farm from passing seed trucks and from neighboring farms. The court held that regardless of whether he planted them deliberately or if he merely found them growing on his farm, it was his responsibility to destroy the seeds and seedlings or pay royalties

    How can poor Percy know if a seed is mutated or not? Ok, when it's obvious from the outside, then it's a no-brainer, but most modifications in plants are not visible from the outside. So a farmer has to DNA test all weedplants on his acres if there is SOMEHWERE a plant grown from a foreign seed? Yeah, that will be good for the world food economy! Can I borrow $100? I'd like to buy some bread.
    --

  • this guy should sue Mother Nature. I mean she's the one spreading his seeds without his concent.

  • Go around the countryside on a windy day with a truck load of seeds with the top open. Come back a year later and start sending those letters. Reap the proffits, and you don't even need to sell ANYTHING! Now there's a marketing sceme!

    How many farmers are going to just pay-up, instead of going to court with a Multinational company with the possilibly losing all there crop (and the rest in layer fees).

    And Jezz... It's not like any farmer has a DNA splicer linked to a patent database in their barn.
  • Did he sign ANY sort of binding agreement with Monsanto concerning their seeds? If not, what basis does Monsanto have for forcing the farmer to so anything?
  • It is hard control a product like which is self replicating.

    That's why Monsanto tried to sell seed with the Terminator gene, to keep the next generation seeds from being viable when planted. The uproar was so huge that they had to back off.

    I concur with the earlier poster. Monsanto marketing technology makes Microsoft look like a child.


    ...phil

  • i really don't want to call you dumbass, but...

    if the whole point here was that farmers need to buy/plant new seed every year to get the crops to re-grow, then even if you plant a whole farm with this seed, next year none of the plans from that seed will grow again. Not a very effective "weed" if you ask me.

    -earl

  • If this were any other industry, this case would never win. Imagine if I build software that replicates itself (a "worm") and let it loose (without your permission) in your company. If you turn around and include it in your distribution I cannot see that I would have any right to go after you. It's my look-out for having put the damn thing there in the first place. You should not be required to inspect your software for my intrusions.

    I had such respect for Canada, but it's slipping. They're beginning to start looking like a mini-United States with health care.
  • Not only that, but get this: in the radio interview I heard with this man, he indicated that he had tried to get rid of some of it using the herbicide RoundUp (also made by Monsanto, coincidence?), but the Canola was resistent to it.

    He was very upset (and rightly so), because this herbicide-resistent Canola is now going to interfere with his crop rotation schedules (done by farmers to allow the land to recover for subsequent years production). Therefore, this affects not only his Canola production, but the overall production of everything he grows on the affected land.

  • He harvested seed from all of his plants, not just the ones that were genetically modified. Unfortunately, the contamination of his seed with the genetically modified seed makes all of the seed unusable, even though the vast majority of it is non-genetically-modified canola.

    Essentially, the message of this ruling is "if any of the genetically modified plants get into your crops, you're at the mercy of Monsanto et al."

  • I read this, and I was astounded.

    Monsanto, love 'em or hate 'em (I choose the former) are being clearly unreasonable about this. No farmer can be expected to ensure that his farm is free of contamination from other farms in this manner. It could be argued that indeed, he doesn't have the right to sow the seed produced from the plants (but I personally despise that sort of idea), but this ruling extends further, saying that if any seed should happen to grow in an unauthorised (i.e. non-license payer's) land, that person is responsible for destoying that plant. I this the onus here should be on the license payer, forcing them to ensure that they do not either willfully or negligently distribute material where they do not have a right to do so?

    Could a farmer bill another for letting his seed contaminate his land?

    Another poster mentioned that a computer virus/worm writer could do a similar thing. Hell, why not? Because a virus/trojan is specifically engineered to propagate? Well, what's a seed meant to do.

    I despair.

    Tom.

  • In the US treatment is guaranteed at the risk of serious debt.

    If I have a non-terminal illness for which a simple emergency room visit will not suffice, I am not guaranteed treatment in the US.
  • by dachshund ( 300733 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @06:39AM (#327420)
    It was about them introducing a type of seed that could not produce seeds once it germinated

    It begs the question:

    If the genetics companies are so concerned about people replanting this seed (accidentally, as it would seem in this case, or deliberately), then why is it not their responsibility to sell only plants that cannot produce seeds? It would seem to be gross negligence on their part, allowing their plants to seed other farmers properties, and contaminate the seed collected there.

    Really, this guy should win his countersuit against Monsanto for contaminating his crops. He should be awarded enormous damages. Unless there is specific evidence that he went out of his way to steal and cultivate this seed, this decision should not go any other way.

  • Monsanto!

    And then sue them for copyright infringment if they complain!

  • Well some guy once tried to sue "Satan and his Minnions" the case was tabled pending process of service.

    All he has to do is find a Sherif who will stand up in court and say "Yes Sir I served this writ on Satan and his Minnions" No problem.

  • Well well. I found a couple of articles about my old nemesis, Monsanto. A company that is responsible for thousands of deaths over the years. They love to kill, those Monsanto fuckers. They especially like killing babies. Think I'm crazy? Grow up and read the history kids...

    But first, a little of what's going on right now regarding Genetic Frankenfood. Monsanto Under Attack Part 2
    - Global Pressure Builds Against Monsanto

    http://www.inmotionmagazine.com/monprob2.html
    Found this "conservative" essay on Monsanto's past. I could tell you far more...
    Monsanto: A Checkered History
    http://www.social-ecology.org/learn/library/tokar/ monsanto.html

    BTW, my MSOutlook spell checker has Monsanto in it (?!?). Is Microsoft part of the Monsanto plans for world domination???
    Oh wait... they both already did that.

    Man!
    ______
    jeff13
  • by Yarn ( 75 )
    Given that Monsatan (sic) are so AMAZINGLY popular with Greenpeace etc, and that farming opinion is sliding anyway, I find it incredible that they pushed this case.

    It gives the environmentalists another weapon against GM.

    Which is a shame, as there are many valid uses of this technology, such as trees which don't require nasty chemicals to make paper, rice with added vitamins, monkeys with four asses etc.

    The only good to come of this story was my smile when I misread plants as pants.

    Re-reading this post makes it look like it was generated from catch-phrases. So be it. *post*
  • Uh....in case you didn't notice, this is slashdot here... ALL replies require Microsoft, Linux, IE and Bill Gates mother....duh!!! ;-) But, in case the significance of it slipped by you, it's called an analogy....with just a touch of satire to give it that zesty tang...mmmmm....satirific....

    *sing* I'm a karma whore and I'm okay....
    I work all night and I post all day
  • How unreasonable!

    To think I was messing with the idea of moving to Canada.

    Bah! I don't think so.

    Not when the gov. thinks they can crawl that far up your a$$ and look around.

    Drive down I 94 in North Dakota and you'll see the stuff overgrowing everywhere!

    It spreads across ditches, 4 lanes of freeway, it grows in cracks in roads etc.

    I'd like to see even the government contain a 4x4 square mile field of it from spreading.

  • > Genetic information wants to be free. (like beer)

    Not if your beer has been made using patented yeasts!

  • by shaka ( 13165 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @06:47AM (#327439)
    Among the things Monsanto has done is a "brand" of potato which produces it's own round-ups.
    Ie, if for instance a Colorado bug gets to a Monsanto potato and starts eating, in a few minutes it falls dead on the ground.
    And people are supposed to eat that food.

    Probable scenarios in the future is that genetically modified food spreads it's DNA to "real" plants, eg via pollination, and then some day a disease shows up that Monsanto didn't think about. Woops! All our crops are dead!
    What to do? Where to get the original seeds?
  • Plants and animals have been undergoing genetic modification by humans for a long time, now we're just being a bit more direct about it. When you walk through the fruit section of the grocery store and see a dozen varieties of apples you're looking at genetically modified food. Most of those breeds of apple didn't grow through the whims of nature. I know at least the grocery store I shop in has a little sign that describes the taste, texture and origin of the apple.

    The method involved in this genetically enhanced canola might be more high-tech, but it has really been done before, and for quite a long time. Canada grew based on genetically enhanced wheat for instance, 'natural' wheat wouldn't grow in the Canadian plains due to the cold.

    I admit that there's a lot of skill involved in coming up with new strains but if they were that worried about propogating their seeds 'illegaly' then they should've also engineered them to be incapable of reproduction.

    I don't know anything about farming, but it seems to me that this is one area where civil disobedience can make a huge impact. Think of a crop duster dusting a few square miles with these mutant canola seeds. I have no idea if this would actually work though, but if it did it'd cause enough of a problem in the legal system to make them think hard about whether growing seeds should be illegal.

  • >>should do monsanto is to borg what ms is to dr. evil

    Surely you jest...how could you possibly think that your analogy is clearer? Let's spell it out: microsoft is similar to monsanto in the same way that dr.evil is similar to borg. ie. one is very much smaller and less serious than the other.

    *sing* I'm a karma whore and I'm okay....
    I work all night and I post all day
  • I doubt anything like that would happen in Europe. In the UK a group of anti GM food "activists" were found not guilty of trashing a farmer's GM crop. There is such hostility to the stuff here that it is unlikely if ever, going to happen anywhere outside US/Canada.

    Anyone remember that cheesy 80's film "The Stuff"?
  • Personally I say a consortium should be created in order to monitor (fully monitor) patents and some of the broad circumstances in which the patents claim. Government is no good at monitoring private sector businesses and this has been proven time and time again.

    Now can government be trusted to fully monitor whats going on, when some government employees who are on a time based scale of employment look forward to moving into the private sector, often taking jobs at these corporations who's patents they pass along merrily? It happened with the chemical industry. [pbs.org]

    Framework for the non profit could include, committee members who are voted into the corporation, just like a politician so there can be no form of monopolization. Patents would have to pass a rigorous full proof dissection to ensure fairness in the open market segments before being given a patent number.

    This is whats happening in the justice system regarding technology based cases. Many people can scream and bitch on forums, to friends, etc., about the abuses going on in the justice system, but here is what it comes down to when dealing with the justice system.

    Court
    Jury of peers Highly unlikely 90% of the time the jury will be comprised of people who do not have any understanding of whats going on fully. These people are purposely selected by both lawyers, and the prosecution, depending on how they intend to fight the case. If the prosecution's job is to win by hiding facts about technology they'll option to choose as many e-illiterate jurors as they can and vice versa.

    Lengthy trials
    Jurors don't want to sit through boring trials such as these, and this combined with jurors that don't have a clue are a ticking timebomb set to explode in a very bad fashion. They will not look at any of the evidence, and rather they'd just wanna hurry up and go back to watching Oprah, Martha Stewart, and CBS.

    Finances
    Company X's resources are 1billion dollars for their legal teams while Defendant is almost dirt poor.

    Companies who are bringing these patent suits should be held liable to pay for the entire trial along with damages for attempting to manipulate the legal system. Hefty fines should be imposed on them which could be used for research into the patenting system and its mechanisms.

    Newflix [antioffline.com]
  • I tried to warn you guys [slashdot.org] back in day but nooooo...

    There were people back then saying, "You're being rediculous, courts would never hold that up!" I wish I had been wrong. :(

    -pos


    The truth is more important than the facts.
  • Ummm... I hope you were being facetious. We might all make our respective livings with technology, but if the world were suddenly transformed into a pre-Industrial Revolution level of technology, we could all survive. Certainly there would be hardship.

    Let me take away your water and your computers and see which bothers you first....

  • Last week I found marijuana plants growing in my garden. When I got home a few days later, the swiftly maturing plants had moved into my greenhouse with my other fragile plants under a high power lamp, and were beginning to bear buds.

    Is it my fault? I didn't buy them, they just happened to be there. Officer.

  • While I'm a big fan of genetically engineered foods (genetic engineering just being good ol' selective breeding sped up) I'm astounded that the courts found that the farmer has to pay damages for seeds that fell onto his land and grew there.

    And in Canada too, normally the Land of Common Sense.

    I'm writing my MP about this.

  • by TomV ( 138637 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @06:55AM (#327460)
    he harvested the seed and replanted.

    Hmm, i'm getting a severe disconnect here. So, since harvesting and replanting are what s33d h4x0rz do, just what exactly have 3000 generations of farmers been up to behind the "nothing going on here, just sowing and reaping, move along now" publicity smokescreen?

    But more seriously, this case just shows, again, why we are not (will never be?) ready for licensed self-replicating organisms. The fact is, pollen flies on the wind, birds move seeds around, mammals move seeds around, insect move pollen around, seeds fly on the wind, are washed downstream by the rain, get stuck to tyres... basically anything with DNA in it is a highly optimised self-replicator, and no amount spent on lawyers is going to fix that.

    Monsanto's business model for GM product can only work if they can prevent or outlaw the very mechanisms which have enabled Monsanto executives to evolve (sic) in the first place. A more religious man than I would describe it as a sin. I just describe it as deceiving their shareholders if they really claim the GM model will ever be profitable. After all, if the GM organisms are 'superior', then eventually they WILL colonise and replace all the current 'natural' (quotes because 10,000 years of human civilisation means 'nature' is a construct anyway) varieties in fairly short order anyhow.

    I also draw the jury's attention to the Rice Tec Corporation of Alvin, Texas and their ludicrous claim on Basmati Rice, just because it makes me hopping mad every time I think about it

    TomV

  • by HiNote ( 238314 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @06:56AM (#327463)
    Offtopic, I know, but I saw your sig, and ... well ... not sure if there's an official continuation of that song, but, well, the creative juices are flowing this morning and here's my version

    I'm a Karma Whore and I'm ok,
    I work all night and I post all day.

    I troll slashdot
    And flame JonKatz,
    I like to get first post
    I have a dozen accounts
    But use HiNote the most

    I'm a Karma Whore and I'm ok,
    I work all night and I post all day.

    I post AC,
    Reply to sigs
    I complain and I whine
    I like to spell micro$oft
    With a dollar sign

    I'm a Karma Whore and I'm ok,
    I work all night and I post all day.

    I flame a lot
    I use 1337 5p34k
    Then people envy me
    I wish I was hacker
    Not just a skript kiddie

    I'm a Karma Whore and I'm ok,
    I work all night and I post all day.


  • by hawk ( 1151 ) <hawk@eyry.org> on Friday March 30, 2001 @07:01AM (#327472) Journal
    I am a lawyer, but this is not legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.


    It is certainly withing the police power of the state to place an obligation not to use the seeds upon the farmer, even if they blow there. *However*, if these seeds are waste of such a type, which imposes an obligation to act upon the farmer, then the entry of the seed onto his property was a tresspass, for which he is entitled to damages--includeing the cost of removing them, lost profits from not being able to use the contaminated portion of his land, etc.


    hawk, esq.

  • And how was it obvious to him that what he was harvesting and replanting was GE rather than his own natural canola?

  • Please read the source material and not just the /. posts

    I must agree with the court and Monsanto - I really don't think pollen flow can account for the presence of Round-Up Ready canola is the Mr. Schmeiser's field.

    90% of the grain in his field was Monsanto. Pollen flow cannot reasonably account for that kind of distribution. I don't believe it was blown from a neighbouring field or that it blew off a truck.

    If, as a farmer, you find RUR growth in your field, Monsanto claims they will come in and remove it for you at no cost to you. Since I haven't heard contrary to this, I think that is a reasonable position.

    The more important issue for me is questioning the ethics and impact of patenting DNA, and why no one is talking about Monsanto's strategy to fundamentally alter the agricultural industry by selling seeds that are one-use-only.

    Bringing the nightly Canadian news to /. since 3.30.2001

  • What's wrong with patenting new breeds of plants? Creating those seeds costs Monsanto probably millions of dollars in research. Also, Monsanto doesn't hold the patent on 'corn' or 'wheat'. Anybody can grow 'corn' or 'wheat' or whatever. Monsanto isn't stopping them. The deal is that anyone who uses Monsanto's seeds gets the benefit of much higher crop yields. So, why shouldn't they pay Monsanto? It's the same as using anything else to improve your business: you need to pay the owner. If I were to slap the name 'McDonald's on my restaurant, and I were to benefit from the increase in business, don't I owe the real McDonalds for this boost in business that came abuot through them building the name brand for 50+ years? Sure I do. If this farmer has greater yields because he used Monsanto's seeds that they spent millions to develop, doesn't he owe Monsanto? Sure he does! What's wrong with this?

  • How can poor Percy know if a seed is mutated or not? Ok, when it's obvious from the outside, then it's a no-brainer, but most modifications in plants are not visible from the outside. So a farmer has to DNA test all weedplants on his acres if there is SOMEHWERE a plant grown from a foreign seed? Yeah, that will be good for the world food economy! Can I borrow $100? I'd like to buy some bread.



    The guy should take an armload of regular wheat and to or 3 gen engineered wheat stalks into the court room, dump it on the judges desk, and tell him to pick out the engineered stalks.
    That should get him off the hook pretty quick.

    Kintanon
  • The resistance of Monsanto brand canola to Monsanto brand Roundup pesticide is not a coincidence. Roundup was specifically developed to work well with Monsanto engineered crops, so much so that using any other broad spectrum pesticide would ruin the crop. Thus when farmers buy Monsanto engineered seed, they have to buy Monsanto engineered pesticides too.

    Monsanto definitely has a bad rep. Although they didn't actually do anything with it, the Terminator seed debacle definitely tarnished their image. Here Monsanto had acquired a company which was developing seeds which would grow but yield crops which were infertile. That is, year after year, you'd have to buy seeds because you couldn't plant seeds from the previous crop. This was viewed as particularly galling in the case of Third World countries where they wouldn't have money to buy seeds year after year.

    Not a happy picture

  • Probable scenarios in the future is that genetically modified food spreads it's DNA to "real" plants, eg via pollination, and then some day a disease shows up that Monsanto didn't think about. Woops! All our crops are dead!

    Erm, why would a non-Monsato crop be less resistant to this disease, simply because Monsato granted no special protective powers against it?

    Don't get me wrong, I don't like Monsato. But I do like GE.

  • Ok.. that's it.. I'm going to the competitor.

    Meiosis all the way from now on

    //rdj
  • Although as much as I hate it, its true, the man should be responsible for the plants. He could have destroyed them as soon as he saw them..
    If he went to market and tried to sell them, then he's an idiot
    Of course, I'd sue the truck and their company for damages.



    Step right up folks! See the amazing Husaria who can distinguish the genetic heritage of a wheatstalk ON SIGHT! No fancy labs! No equipment, he just takes a look and Presto! He knows if the wheat is the genetic property of Monsanto or is just a regular non engineered wheat stalk like the other hundred million on the farm! Amazing eh?

    But what are the farmers without your amazing talent supposed to do to distinguish engineered wheat from regular wheat? Unless the engineered wheat shows up some bizarre color or has 'Monsanto' imprinted on the stalk in big letters I doubt most people can tell them apart on sight.

    Kintanon
  • by DarkMan ( 32280 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @07:16AM (#327498) Journal
    Wrong. Monsanto produces "Roundup ready [farmsource.com]" plants.

    These do _not_ produce any toxins themselves. Instead, they were modified to be resistant to Roundup [monsanto.com], a glycophosphate based herbicide.

    These are to control weeds, not insects. I fully agree that these are a very worrying idea, but spreading untruths is not helpful. In any field. The truth is scary enough.

    Plants can't spread DNA to others. The worry about spreading genes is primarlily in corss polination, where pollen from modifed corn gets blown around, and lands on normal corn.

    There is a theoretical risk of a virus picking up the modified genes and spreading them to other species, true - but cross pollination is a much bigger issue.
    --
  • Except the old way of genetic manipulation took a very, very long time and didn't produce any plant or animial that couldn't reasonably exist on its own. All the breeding and cross-breading of the past made certain, already present genes more dominate. If a number of plants produced larger fruits, then they would try to pass those genes onto as many other plants as possible, or if a horse was larger and stronger then the others the attempt would be made to create offspring of the horse that that had the same characteristics. There was no attempt to patent or control the resulting offspring. When did plants ever need to develop resistance to a man-made pesticide? They didn't, but Montoso added them to the plant. And since they "invented" this gene they can control the plant. It was never like this before. Worst of all the most popular genes are the ones that prevent reproduction, which cannot exist naturally, because if you can't reproduce your genes are forever removed from the world. They are only popular because they keep the profit flowing in, since farmers have to buy new seed every year instead of saving the seeds from last year.
  • by TomV ( 138637 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @07:20AM (#327504)
    How can poor Percy know if a seed is mutated or not?

    You know, i've figured out what this reminds me of. Salem. Traditional witchhunts. And why?

    Because Percy has to test every single plant on his farm for contamination, and unless he's got a very sophisticated lab on the farm, there's only one simple test I can think of right now.

    Just spray the whole farm with Roundup. Any plant that survives is a non-licensed Monsanto product and should be destroyed. Easy, and cheap.

    After all, everyone knows witches float 'cos they're made of wood?

    TomV

  • Would something like the echelon movement do here? What I mean is that people include words that trigger echelon in sigs and what not. In the same spirit, people could just get their hands on lots and lots of genetically modified and patented seeds, and plant them everywhere all over the earth - in public places, parks, governmental areas.

    Most emphatically, no. While this may piss off Monsanto's lawyers, etc. it won't actually accomplish much of benefit. Moreover, it is potentially dangerous. Think about it: you are unquestioningly helping to introduce these frankin-genes into the wild -- this when we don't really know the long term effects of "controled" commercial planting!

    The best thing to do is write a letter, on paper to your local congresscritter. Call them. Write letters to the editor. Apply the rules of the Linux-Advocacy-HOWTO to your efforts, and be polite, firm, and rational in your arguments.

    If IP is your issue, then stick to that. If you believe that these organizms are dangerous, do some research and site some facts.

  • The nightmare the "lefties" and "socialist freaks" have screamed and raved about has happened; a perfectly innocent person, who apparently didn't realize his crop was contaminated until the company came in and tested, has lost his life's work over something he had little to no control over - nature - because the law gave the company that kind of power and legal backing. Time to stop laughing; you can now have your life taken away from your through no wrong actions of your own. Unless these plants look significantly different, or the seeds friggin' grow or something, there is no way he could have known an outside plant had invaded his crop. But accidents and acts of God be damned, there's a patent to protect, and some license money to reclaim - and possibly get a little more money in the process (read the article, especially the part about Monsanto wanting all of his profits for the past few years).

    That, to me, is a sign of a broken, unjust legal system, one where logic is shoved out of the way to protect not just every last cent (and more) of a company's revenue, but a series of legal institutions that are unable to deal with certain natural realities. The result has been disaster for a man that didn't steal anything from the company, except under a tenuous, legalistic definition of "theft", whereby you can apparently now be charged in unlawful posession of a plant species that the wind tossed on your lawn, and have to pay for it. You can say "but that's the law" all you want - in this case, and in many others, the law is wrong and needs to be fixed before someone else gets hurt.
  • > It was evident he knew that the plants were there since he harvested the seed and replanted.

    And he didn't do that with the rest of his plants?

    And he can easily distinguish the GM plants from the others?

    //rdj
  • "So next time you could have patent owning companies purposely mixing some of their seeds with normal seeds and then claiming the present crops be destroyed or ask for royalties."

    Actually under thje logic of this case, if the farmer suing, royalty demanding, company can hold a farmer responsible for what the wind blows around, the farmer can sue for damages for "tainting" his crops with non-windproof pollen.

    Damn that was a run on sentance.

    Just think, 3 dozen farm hands chasing bees around with cans of raid, on the of chance one of them has tainted pollen.

    Or even worse DMFA (Digital Millenium Farm Act) complient bees geneticly incapable of carring improved pollen. I'm sorry senator (yes i know it's Canada) your state will have to be bug bombed or it's citzens arresting in trafficing. Try upgrading your bees sooner next time!

    ROTFL snort.

  • What's wrong with this is that the farmer being sued alleges that he did not intentionally plant Monsanto seeds, but instead, had them unintentionally planted to his fields via his neighbours who planted them.
    --
  • This sounds just as cool as the GPL as far as hacks of the legal system are concerned.

    If you don't want me to use your genetically engineered seeds, then make damn sure that you don't let it 'contaminate' my fields. You can sue me for using your seeds, but then you'll have to pay me

    -for paying you,
    -plus the cost I incurred from being sued by you,
    -plus lossed profits because I couldn't use my land the next year in order to insure that your seeds grow back (ie, I get a year off at your expense)
    -plus punitive damages for mental anguish
    -plus anything else creative lawyers can think of

    All in all, Monsanto sounds to me like the guy who lost all his change through a whole in his pocket, and now wants to beat up all the kids in the neighborhood to get his money back.

  • Yes, because:

    1) You clearly identified what they were.

    2) You took steps to promote thier growth, knowing what they were.

    If you had a liscence to grow THC free marijuana, but a couple fo plnats were the wild type, they you would have an excuse. However, as it's easy ti ID marijuana, that doesn't hold.

    GM rapeseed looks identical to proper rapeseed. The farmer did not, and could not, identify the difference, and treated it like the expected crop.

    And that's the difference
    --
  • There is no natural canola! Canola is modified rapeseed plant

  • Yes, its rude to reply to your own post, but:

    I meant that I couldn't use my land next year in order to insure that your seeds don't grow back. 8*)

    On second thought, I couldn't sue Monsanto, unless it was their field could I. I mean, Monsanto wouldn't be responsible for contaminating my field if they just sold the seed to a neighboring farmer. I would have to sue my neighbor. Of course, I could force my neighbor into bankruptcy for using this seed and then take over his fields and eliminate the offensive material in the process. Would serve him right, wouldn't it?

  • if for instance a Colorado bug gets to a Monsanto potato and starts eating, in a few minutes it falls dead on the ground.
    And people are supposed to eat that food.


    Actually every raw potato is poisonous. It was hard to convince European peasants that they are edible after cooking.

    And a relative of potatoes is tobacco, whose leaves contains dangerous alcaloids, like nicotine. But nobody will tell to smokers. Er, wait...
    __
  • No, but it is still a valid question.

    I am not up on Frankenplant myself, but what about pollination? Sure, the plants this season are dead, but say during the course of their life a bee (Eric the Half-A-Bee, perhaps?) came by and carried the pollen to some non Frankenplant. Is that plant now a Frankenplant for the next season?

    Seems pretty exponential to me.
  • I'm going to preface this by stating I've worked in AG before, with Monsanto, in the seed division.

    The whole seed industy is all about making round up ready seed. If you're not making genetically altered seed, then you're not going to be in business much longer.

    So where did Monsanto come from? Well, they are a former Chemical Company. They made many products, including PCB's. Dateline NBC has portraited Monstanto as a company that has contaminated water supplies, covered up said contaimination, and been directly responcible for Deaths, birth defects, and cancer of hundreds of people.

    Now if a case like this were held in the US some interesting things might come about. First, and most damning for Monsanto is that seed companies have been held responcible for cross seeding. The makers of Star Link corn face some pretty hefty fines for contaiminating the corn supply. This might play out well because everyone in the industy is testifing that the source seed was all good. It was the cross breeding that created the wide spread contamination.

    In the end, we need some laws specifically protecting famrers. They already get the shaft 9 times out of 10 anyways.
  • by Pseudonymus Bosch ( 3479 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @07:42AM (#327542) Homepage
    say you're eating a genetically modified apple. The seeds drop into your flowerpot and starts growing, and voilà - you have to pay!

    That's why Monsanto uses the Terminator gene. Descendants of a Terminator seed are sterile. At the same time, Monsanto makes the farmer dependant and reduces genetically engineered being in the wild.
    __
  • Monsanto has been hunting seed pirates as early as 1998 [sare.org]. In the aforementioned article, monsanto specifically went after farmers who were hording monsanto seeds they purchased. I'm guessing that purchasing the seed 'media' isn't the same as purchasing the license, just like with software. I recall hearing about this as early as 1993 however, it the context of African farms suffering from Monsanto, however what I heard at that time might have been speculation that this would happen, or it might have been rumors of real incidents.

    Monsanto's activities [social-ecology.org] could easily be a threat to the continued existence of humanity (though not as great a threat as overpopulation!).

    Try a google search for the keywords "Monsanto" and "Deaths" [google.com] to find a lot of articles discussing Monsanto's activities for better or worse.

    I'm all for mucking with nature to improve the survival chances of our civilization, but I think Monsanto is reckless and therefore dangerous. Maybe someday layers will find that they are willfully reckless and send the police to ask them to stop.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Farmers are having trouble finding non modified seeds:

    American Farmers Are Getting Angry over GE Crops

    Genetic Contamination & Unavailability of Non-GE Seeds Anger North Dakota
    Farmers

    Genetic Beans Giving Farmers More Headaches. Difficulty
    Finding GM-free Seeds.

    Bismark (North Dakota) Tribune, 20 March 2001
    http://208.141.36.73/listarchive/index.cfm?list_ id =30 (See 3/22
    listing). BY Jerry W. Kram.

    Excerpts: Wiley was informed that his sample had tested positive for
    genetically modified varieties. The level of contamination was 1.37
    percent, which was too much for the Japanese. 'I was stunned and
    sick to my stomach,' Wiley said. 'I finally went into the house to tell
    my wife we had just lost $ 6,000 because of a neighbor's planting
    decision.' Other producers who sell into markets that prohibit or
    severely restrict the use of genetically modified crops are having
    a hard time finding seed. Donald Vig, an organic farmer from
    Valley City, said he has talked to seed suppliers as far away as
    California and cannot find seed guaranteed to be free of foreign genes.
    'The organic industry has a zero tolerance for genetically modified
    crops,' Vig said. Rodney Nelson, a farmer from Amenia, is also looking
    for soybean seed free of genetically modified varieties. Nelson is being
    sued by Monsanto, producer of Roundup Ready soybeans, for growing their
    variety of soybeans without buying seed from the company. "I want
    soybean seed that's guaranteed not to contain genetically engineered
    material,' Nelson said. 'When I asked my seed dealer for a guarantee, he
    laughed at me..."
    ________________________________________________ __ ____________________
    Indiana Farmers Getting the Bad News on Biotech

    www.DirectAg.com articles. 3/23/2001, or
    http://www.directag.com/directag/news/article.jh tm l?article_id=1000991

    Why Didn't You Warn Me About GMO's? Excerpts:

    "I came here this morning feeling pretty good," the farmer continued.
    "But now you've got me very concerned about where we're going to sell
    our GMO-crops in the future. It's not right that you let us all get
    hooked growing these GMO-crops and now tell us that maybe we should be
    growing something else."

    Tom Bechman, Indiana Prairie Farmer, a Farm Progress Publication.
    Purdue Extension corn specialist Bob Nielsen didn't mince words when he
    addressed the issue of genetic modified organisms (GMO's) and the
    controversy still swirling throughout agriculture due to the StarLink Bt
    debacle last fall. He warned farmers that while the long-term potential
    for great benefits from biotechnology still existed, the short-term
    fall-out could actually make life more difficult, and perhaps even less
    profitable, for farmers who didn't manage carefully in the short term.
    When he finished his talk at the Wayne County Conservation Tillage
    Workshop in Richmond, Ind., one farmer in the crowd was quick about not
    mincing words, either.

    "Why didn't you tell us about all of these
    potential negatives a long time ago," he questioned, sharply. "Where
    have you been for the last two or three years? "I came here this morning
    feeling pretty good," the farmer continued. "But now you've got me very
    concerned about where we're going to sell our GMO-crops in the future.
    It's not right that you let us all get hooked growing these GMO-crops
    and now tell us that maybe we should be growing something else." While
    Nielsen is never at a loss for words, he did acknowledge that the farmer
    had a point. But it wasn't just Nielsen who didn't see the controversy
    coming. He contended that it was all of agriculture, plus the media and
    even regulatory officials. "Six months ago, hardly anyone in Indiana
    even knew what StarLink was," Nielsen says. "It was barely a blip on the
    radar screen."...
  • Living here in Sunny Alberta (tm), Canada and having family members directly involved in agriculture, I am saddened by this decision.

    Unlike some of the raving left-wing crowd crowing about GM foods, and how wrong they are, I have no personal problem with them.

    Having taken a whack of genetics courses (before deciding that messing around with fruit flies is not how I want to spend the rest of my life), I am surprised he did not use the simple defence of:

    It's a naturally occuring mutation.

    Prove it otherwise.

    Really. What could Monsanto do in that scenario? Do they have a patent on randomly occuring genetic mutation? Cross-polination? NO.

    All genetic modification is really just selectively chosing genes that exist elsewhere. Nature does this too. It's called...wait for it...evolution.
  • If you want to support GMO's, thats great. But don't use this lame excuse to try to justify it. Genetic engineering allows you to create organisms which you would never ever be able to produce via selective breeding.

    The clearest example of this is a new type of tomato which has genes from a certain fish in it. The result is a tomato which keeps longer and is resistant to freezing. Now, pray tell, how long would it take you to use "selective breeding" between a tomato and a fish? The fact is you will never get it to work.

    I've even heard propronents of GMO's both admit and deny that genetic engineering is just like selective breeding in the same interview. First they say, "of course it's safe. It's the same thing people have been doing for thousands of years: selective and cross breeding." Then later, "Genetic engineering is important because it lets us create things that would be impossible to make via any other method". Well, which one is it? A powerful new tool which makes the impossible possible? Or just a sped up verion of a old tool? It can't be both. The two options are mutually exclusive.

    Personally, I think genetic engineering is a great new tool. But, I also think that we barely know how to use it. The current situation is that we are honing are skills using our food supply as a guinea pig and releasing the newly made creatures into the wild were they will propogate on their own. All of this with basically no regulation or testing. Stupid and foolhardy both.
  • Among the things Monsanto has done is a "brand" of potato which produces it's own round-ups. Ie, if for instance a Colorado bug gets to a Monsanto potato and starts eating, in a few minutes it falls dead on the ground. And people are supposed to eat that food.

    Genetically modified potatoes are all but dead.

    Although I'm no fan of McDonalds, they've decided that the risk of consumer backlash against the use of GM potatoes in their cash-cow french fries is too high so they now only buy non-GM potatoes. They're such a huge buyer of potatoes that few if any farmers will now plant GM potatoes.

    --

  • This wasn't about government licensing for genetically modified crops.. it was about a patented crop.. he was growing without a license from the patent holder.
  • And he believes that, since he didn't steal the seeds, they ended up on his property through no actions of his own, he shouldn't have had to destroy part of his crop as Monsanto would have demanded. Actually, I suspect the company would have demanded he destroy his entire crop, and still pay them damages.

    What happened was the wind-blown equivalent of a CueCat being mailed to people. They didn't ask for it, they didn't steal it, the company should lose rights to make demands of the people who received it.

    The law, it seems, disagrees. Digital Convergence should have patented those CueCats; they could have gotten rich off the people who wrote Linux drivers for them, since they didn't abide by the "license" DC wanted to enforce on items they didn't ask for in many cases.

    Doesn't a situation like that sound fundamentally wrong? Someone performs what, for all intents and purposes, should be a perfectly legal action - growing canola crops - loses everything because some outside plants contaminated his crop.

    The "test" you speak of consisted of blasting crops with Roundup after noticing some of the plants around a power pole he blasted didn't die. The genetic tests didn't take place until much later, at which point Monsanto was the one aware that their particular resistant plant was in the field. From the testimony, which I downloaded and read after your post, the farmer knew some crops were resisting the herbicide, and that was it. There is no testimony or implication he stole the seed from anywhere, or knew without a doubt it was Monsanto's Roundup Ready seed. It ended up on his property through no actions of his own.

    What happened to Mr. Schmeiser is far more wrong than his growing seeds that landed on his property.
  • Is effectively what Monsanto is claiming. Because some idiot granted them the patent on genetically modified canola, they own the rights to a type of *life* in perpetuity? This seems ludicrous to me, obviously we must start campaigning to deny the legality of any patent that relates to living being or DNA.

    For instance, life evolves naturally. If natural evolution were to produce the same result as genetic modification, would it invalidate the patent? How would we ever know? Or would the patent holder suddenly gain the ownership of an entire species?

    I am very sad to see the courts make this ruling, particularly as a I am a proud Canadian.

  • In Canada you die of the common cold on a waiting list.

    And therein lies the problem. Morons who run to the doctor for every sniffle, ache, and runny nose because they really do think they're going to die. Perhaps if people only went to the doctor when medically necessary, or for an annual exam, then there wouldn't be such a large waiting list.

    Why doesn't some insurance company come out with a Catastrophe-Medical Insurance plan? In other words, I'll pay for routine Dr. visits (I never go), but if I break my leg or come down with Cancer, then I'm covered....

  • by jeff13 ( 255285 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @08:15AM (#327576) Homepage
    The Canadian farmers started to accuse Monsanto of cross pollinating a while ago. Farmers near fields with "those gall darn ge'tic seeds" found that Monsanto seed ended up in their crop. Fears of an uncontrollable cross pollinated world of genetically altered food started to be thrown about. What happened next?

    Monsanto spied on farmers [biotech-info.net], then "burned" farmers fields in order to destroy evidence. When caught, Monsanto said they were "testing" fields. Hmm, and flew night missions in Cessnas to carry out these "normal" activities. Yea... sure.

    And now they win a court case against a farmer who has complained about Monsanto seed in his crop before. I don't care if the whole field is full of Genetic seed, it's still Monsantos responsibility.

    Monsanto wants to own the worlds food before the farmer does. It's insidious!
    They have killed before, they will kill again.
    ______
    jeff13
  • What's really worthy of note is that the bee (Eric), who did the cross-pollinating could be held liable under patent laws, possibly even the DMCA.

    It's probably important to note that the juries, lawyers & judges involved will probably find poor Eric responsible for damages payable to Monstanto.

    Poor Eric's dirt-bag lawyer would probably recommend that he try to place responsibility on the hive. After all, poor Eric was acting in the service of the hive and the queen bee. He was just an unpaid laborer and the hive wasn't even witholding Social Security taxes for him.

    Erics dirt-bag lawyer will take to his Public Relations Weasel, who will quickly note that Eric and, in fact, all worker bees are female. He will quickly turn this into a political issue.

    The Nation Organization of Women will note that the feminist-social-collective bee hive is battling against the evil patriarchal Monsanto Corporation, and send a small army of lawyers to assist poor Eric. They will file a counter-suit against Monstanto for civil-rights violations.

    Meantime, Monsanto Corporation will be busy distributing bribes("education") to legislators, attempting to make property-owners responsible for the actions of any bees that live on their property.

    Etc...

  • by johnathan ( 44958 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @08:17AM (#327581) Homepage
    Actually every raw potato is poisonous. It was hard to convince European peasants that they are edible after cooking.
    Hm... this is news to me. I eat some raw potato just about every time I cook with them. (A little salt and they're pretty tasty.) And I'm not dead yet. Am I going to need a new liver soon?

    --

  • Yeah which sucks for him since he now has to buy new seed he normally shouldn't have. The hell with it - Monsanto should have been required to PAY him to remove the plants and replace them with natural canola. It wasn't the farmers fault - the pollen drifted to his farm on teh wind. If Monsanto wants it out - its their problem not his.

    And then common sense goes to teh wind and the lawyers get involved and the regular guy gets screwed.

    --

  • I know allowing people to patent a plant alone is bad enough, but ignoring that:

    Shouldn't the person who gave/sold him the seeds/starter plants to begin with be the one paying up?
  • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @08:26AM (#327597) Journal
    'As soon as you realized that you weren't dead, you should have started paying the royalties...'

    It's called "tithing". A 10% "voluntary" income tax payable to the (Christian - various denominations) church.

    A large fraction of the population of Europe did it for centuries, and some people do it to this day.

    Some non-Christian churches have a similar custom.

    (I wonder how long it will take for patent holders to start claiming a divine right to royalties, by analogy with kings who claimed a divine right to rule as the next level below God in an "executive branch" responsible for temporal governance.)
  • Well, what I can't figure is how a shitty business plan (seeds can't walk! pollen doesn't travel! this stuff will just sit there! life forms can be patented! farmers will love sterile crops!) gives Monsanto the power to go around sampling people's fields and demanding they destroy crops, when those people have not been proven guilty of a crime. They should keep their fucking seeds indoors if they can't handle the consequences. And any business plan that can't be executed with cruise ships full of lawyers is a bad business plan.

    What's next, a farmer next to a Monsanto-poisoned field gets the pollen in his, Monsanto comes in with the jackbooted thugs and burns his crops? Those people are enemies of research, development, science, biology, agriculture, intellectual freedom, and just about everything else good and natural.

    Boss of nothin. Big deal.
    Son, go get daddy's hard plastic eyes.

  • Remember the old saying: You are what you eat.

    Ah! So THAT explains the mental abilities of those new-age vegitarians.
  • The benefit of using Monsanto's crop is that you can use a herbicide called Roundup. Roundup usually kills just about all plants it comes in contact to, except this genetically modified canola that Monsanto has developed. This simplifies your weeding task, decreases cost, and (presumably) increases yield.

    I'm not taking any kind of stand on this practice; who knows if it's better environmentally?

    But on the matter of the court case, I believe the most important question is whether Schmeiser took advantage of Monsanto's plant in the way that licensed farmers do. Did he use Roundup, or some similar herbicide? Or was he just conducting his business as he normally would have, with normal canola?

    This would establish two things: did he know that the genetically modified plant was present, and how much did he gain from the illicit use?

    --

  • Monsanto definitely has a bad rep.
    Monsanto [purefood.org]'s rep is golden compared to their reality. If Monsanto - the corporation that brought us PCBs, DDT, Agent Orange, and lawsuits over rBGH labeling, not to mention their actions wrt GM crops - had a reputation that reflected reality, their corporate charter would be revoked for their various and asundry crimes [greenpeace.org], their CEO and Board of Directors would probably be imprisoned, and their headquarters razed and wreckage buried in a deep deep hole.

    Monsanto: Pure Concentrated Evil.

    Tom Swiss | the infamous tms | http://www.infamous.net/

  • On the one hand:

    That's a difficult one. Patents on genes can have a reasonably sound foundation, and the USPTO hasn't yet prooved to me that they are so confused on the issue that we'd be better off if they were just abolished. (Their issuance of software patents, however, has proved that.)

    More questionable is whether or not the farmer should be held responsible. If he didn't steal the seeds, then they would normally be considered a treasure trove (buried found property with no known owners). I believe that there is a heavy tax on that where I live, but I don't think that it's illegal.

    Now looking at a seed, it can be quite difficult to tell just what kind of seed it is. So expecting that is unreasonable. A great deal of work must be done to turn the seeds into a crop, so the farmer has a large investment. Etc.

    My wild guess was that the judge thought the farmer stole the seeds, but didn't have enough evidence (or the charge wasn't presented).

    OTOH:
    Monopolies are dangerous. Monopolies of critical materials are much worse than just dangerous, they inherently need to be deconstructed. This isn't directly about patents, but then patents aren't really the problem here. The problem is that one company has a monopoly of a critical necessity. Even if the company is well intentioned and hasn't done anything to take advantage of its position, it needs to be deconstructed.

    N.B.: Deconstruction is not to be construed as punishment. Ideally it should be done so that the resulting companies have not lost any value, and so that none of the resulting companies have more than, say, 20% of the market. This can be tricky when some parts of the deal are vastly expensive (consider, e.g., the Intel chip foundaries). But perhaps they could be split out as a separate company, with each of the parent companies getting a proportional share of the stock, though this also has it's dangers (this new company becomes the core of a more tightly focused monopoly).

    All of this is just what needs to be done. Not what is legal. Legal games rarely seem to be based around what is good for society. And the object of legal games seems all too often to be more the punishing of the loser than the resolving of the problem. But what can you expect of a system that evolved out of the Knights championing a cause. It serves the purpose of making sure that the most powerful position isn't too greatly displeased with the outcome. And this contributes to social stability, which is usually to everyones benefit.


    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • Hmm, could this simply the introduction of "seeding" the market... (pun only halfway intened). If Monsanto flew over crop fields and dusted each farmer's crop with just a few seeds, then they could sue each farm until they own every farm on the continent.

    Perhaps AOL might take a lesson from this, and sue everyone who touches an AOL cd for "mis-handling intellectual property"

  • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @08:55AM (#327637) Journal
    Are raw potatoes really poisonous?!? I eat them all the time!!!!

    It's the rest of the plant that's toxic, at least most of the time. Don't eat a potato that's sprouting or getting a green layer beneath the skin. (You may not become obviously ill with just a green layer, but it's not advisable anyhow.)

    That's one reason a potato is such a useful plant: It kills off most insects that try to eat it. (Unfortunately there are other organisms that attack it, and since potatoes are reproduced mainly by cloning they have little diversity. That's why a blight led to the Irish Potato Famine.)

    I hear the toxin involved is not broken down by cooking temperatures.
  • by sherpajohn ( 113531 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @09:04AM (#327643) Homepage
    Could a farmer bill another for letting his seed contaminate his land?

    If you read the judgement, there is a section towards the end where the judge mentions the "Stray Bull Law", which basically states: if your bull loose, and has its way with my cows, I own the offspring, but if it causes me any harm that your bull banged my cows, you owe me.

    Going on means going far
    Going far means returning
  • by Jeremy Erwin ( 2054 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @09:16AM (#327652) Journal
    I don't see why everyone is getting all riled up abot the possibility of genetic contamination. I mean, it's not like companies have had any trouble segregating Starlink corn from non-GM corn...
  • by jafac ( 1449 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @11:44AM (#327713) Homepage
    well, I am not a lawyer, and I'd like to correct your statement. It is certainly within the police power of the state to do anything they fucking want. They have guns and bombs and tanks and planes. Do as they say or you'll disappear.

    Pinochet was a proof-of-concept awaiting implementation.
  • by Malcontent ( 40834 ) on Friday March 30, 2001 @11:05PM (#327790)
    Cultivate GM seeds from some farmers fields. Plant said seeds in competing farmers fields (make sure it's a larfe farm). Turn in the farm to monsanto, write letters to the editor about hos Monsanto is going to bankrupt farmers. Repeat until monstanto lawyers are too busy to sue anybody else. Voila a DOS attack on monsanto and a clever culture hack to align the farmers against Monsanto. If nothing else it would add one more fuse to the powderkeg known as the inland west.

There's a whole WORLD in a mud puddle! -- Doug Clifford

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