"David contra Goliat" o "Percy Schmeiser contra MONSANTO"

Publicado en por Ivonne Leites. - Atea y sublevada.

 
 
Mr. Percy Schmeiser : “I believe there is a great relationship between Multi-Nationals like Monsanto and governments, especially when they work together to introduce GMO’s.”

 

Parecía imposible, pero David le ganó a Goliat. Que sepan otros agricultores del mundo que pueden enjuiciar a Monsanto si les contaminan sus campos con esas semillas transgénicas...

 

La Corte Suprema de Canadá estuvo de acuerdo con Schmeiser, dictaminando que no debía pagarle nada a Monsanto.En un acuerdo extrajudicial finalizado el 19 de marzo de 2008, Percy Schmeiser estableció su pleito con Monsanto. Monsanto aceptó pagar todos los costos de limpieza de canola Roundup Ready que contaminó el campo de Schmeiser. Además, parte del acuerdo fue que no habría orden mordaza en lo establecido y que Monsanto podría ser demandada nuevamente si se produjera una mayor contaminación. Schmeiser cree que este acuerdo sienta precedente para que los agricultores tengan derecho a reembolso cuando sus campos han sido contaminados con canola Roundup Ready no deseada o cualquier otro tipo de OMG no deseado.

 

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  !Maldita MONSANTO!

 

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El posible ingreso de transgénicos al Perú, es buena oportunidad para citar la historia del agricultor Percy Schmeiser puede ayudarnos a entender el significado de esta transnacional en la agricultura y medio ambiente.

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Percy Schmeiser tenía entonces 68 años, un agricultor de toda su vida. Vive en la zona oeste de Canadá con su esposa y sus cinco hijos. Cuando apareció  Monsanto, él no quiso ningún trato con esta empresa trasnacional, a pesar de todas los “atributos” de las semillas para convencerlo.

 

Percy Schmeiser no se dejó convencer por La Monsanto. Sabía que los agricultores que compran a Monsanto están obligados a utilizar solamente las semillas de esta empresa y que deben comprarlas cada año. Sabía también que Monsanto fija los precios, recoge las cosechas, las comercializa, impone condiciones y castigos. Con sus propias semillas, mejoradas después de décadas de trabajo, Schmeiser resistió.

 

Pero Monsanto no está dispuesta a perder y en 1998 demandó al agricultor canadiense Percy Schmeiser, acusándolo de sembrar sus semillas. El juicio duró dos años ante y el juez le declaró culpable.

“En sus terrenos aparecieron plantas de semillas patentadas por la empresa Monsanto”. Por lo tanto Este tribunal lo declara… ¡culpable! Usted deberá pagar 10 mil dólares y entregar toda su producción y sus tierras a la empresa Monsanto”, sentenció el juez.

 

Percy Schmeiser apeló la sentencia, pero Monsanto multiplicó su demanda y le exigió un millón de dólares por el supuesto uso de sus semillas patentadas.

 

La empresa norteamericana Monsanto es la segunda compañía de semillas transgénicas más grande del mundo. Tiene oficinas, fábricas y centros de investigación en más de 100 países.

Pero el agricultor Percy Schmeiser no se acobardó. Volvió a apelar la sentencia del juez y llevó el caso ante la Corte Suprema de Canadá.

 

“Invertimos todos nuestros ahorros en esta batalla legal… y recibimos muchas donaciones de personas alrededor del mundo”, dijo el agricultor.

 

En marzo del 2008, Percy Schmeiser ganó el pleito contra Monsanto y no tuvo que pagar ninguna indemnización. Al contrario, la empresa transnacional es la que ha tenido que correr con los gastos de descontaminar los campos de Schmeiser.

 

“¡Le ganamos!… Parecía imposible, pero David le ganó a Goliat. Que sepan otros agricultores del mundo que pueden enjuiciar a Monsanto si les contaminan sus campos con esas semillas transgénicas”, afirmó Percy Schmeiser.

Schmeiser ha viajado por el mundo entero denunciando los abusos de la Monsanto. Su caso no es un caso aislado. Con el Tratado de Libre Comercio, 50 mil agricultores canadienses se han arruinado. En México, ocho millones de personas han perdido sus tierras y sus cultivos. Ahora, el país compra maíz transgénico a los Estados Unidos.

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¡Maldita Monsanto!

 

 

Debat-i-k debatik.lamula.pe/ - En caché

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Entrevista a Percy Schmeiser: “Pienso que hay mucha relación entre las multinacionales como Monsanto y los gobiernos”

Bahianoticias.com - Entrevista exclusiva de BN a Percy Schmeiser -

 

En el mes de septiembre le realizamos una entrevista a Percy Schmeiser. La misma estuvo a cargo de Silvia Paglioni y la traducción a cargo de la Sra. Alicia Vega. Dicha entrevista fue respondida en la fecha y la compartimos, en español e inglés, con nuestros lectores. Percy Schmeiser (http://www.percyschmeiser.com) es un granjero de Bruno, Saskatchewan, Canadá, cuyos campos de canola fueron contaminados con Canola Round Up Ready de Monsanto. La posición de Monsanto fue que no importaba cuándo Schmeiser supo o no que su campo de canola estaba contaminado con el gen de Round Up Ready, o cuándo o no tomó ventaja de la tecnología (no lo hizo); debía pagarle a Monsanto su Tasa de Tecnología de $15./acre. La Corte Suprema de Canadá estuvo de acuerdo con Schmeiser, dictaminando que no debía pagarle nada a Monsanto. 

En un acuerdo extrajudicial finalizado el 19 de marzo de 2008, Percy Schmeiser estableció su pleito con Monsanto. Monsanto aceptó pagar todos los costos de limpieza de canola Roundup Ready que contaminó el campo de Schmeiser. Además, parte del acuerdo fue que no habría orden mordaza en lo establecido y que Monsanto podría ser demandada nuevamente si se produjera una mayor contaminación. Schmeiser cree que este acuerdo sienta precedente para que los agricultores tengan derecho a reembolso cuando sus campos han sido contaminados con canola Roundup Ready no deseada o cualquier otro tipo de OMG no deseado.

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Entrevista-

 

Bahianoticias.com – Bahía Blanca – Argentina / Bruno, Saskatchewan – Canadá – 11/11/2010

 

Ud. fue acusado por la empresa Monsanto de haber infringido la patente que tienen de colza transgénica resistente al herbicida glifosato, porque había algunas plantas transgénicas en su parcela/campo.

Fue a juicio y un tribunal Canadiense lo declaró culpable. Ud.dice que nunca plantó esas semillas. No importa si llegaron por polinización cruzada, viento, caída de los camiones que transportan las semillas, lluvia, o transportada por aves y abejas. Lo declararon culpable.

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(Entrevistadora Silvia Paglioni) 1- ¿Ud. sabe si Monsanto es propietaria de grandes extensiones de tierras?

(Entrevistado Percy Schmeiser) No sé si Monsanto posee tierras, excepto las numerosas parcelas de testeo que utilizan. Por lo tanto los granjeros no cultivan esas tierras.

 

2- Si las semillas tienen rasgos transgénicos debido a la polinización cruzada  ¿Los agricultores pierden todos sus derechos y libertades para poder plantar y cultivar lo que quieren porque se infringe las patentes de estas multinacionales?

Si algún granjero resulta contaminado por polinización cruzada o movimiento directo de semillas, no se le permite utilizar esta semilla al año siguiente o en cualquier momento futuro. Si el granjero utiliza las semillas contaminadas está violando la Patente Genética de Monsanto y puede ser llevado a los tribunales por Monsanto.

 

3. Si sólo una semilla transgénica se reproduce en 10.000 semillas en sólo un año, en poco tiempo tenemos muchos campos con semillas transgénicas, (llevadas por viento, lluvia, pájaros). Observo dos detalles graves,  los agricultores con peligro de ser juzgados por las mismas y si lo traslado a mi país (argentina) y el cultivo de soja transgénica, ya no hay solución. Es algo imparable. ¿Qué opina?

Una vez introducida la OMG no hay co-existencia y la polinización cruzada es imparable.

 

4. ¿La Justicia considera que el contaminador no debe pagar sino los contaminados?

Lo que sucede con la patente de estos genes es que el granjero que es contaminado pierde el derecho a usar sus propias semillas. El granjero se transforma en víctima.

5. Si no se compra el herbicida glifosato , no puede comprar las semillas. ¿Ud. no utilizó el herbicida glifosato.  ¿Es por eso que se lo juzgó  realmente?

Si se compran semillas OMG, hay que comprar glifosato para matar las malezas de otro modo no se obtendría beneficio en sembrar OMG. Yo no usé el herbicida glifosato en mi canola, por lo tanto no obtuve beneficio.

6. ¿Qué conocimientos tiene sobre sus efectos adversos en la tierra, en la salud animal y humana?

Las supermalezas se han vuelto más y más comunes porque si se incrementa el uso del glifosato, todo da como resultado el uso de químicos más fuertes y más tóxicos para matar estas nuevas malezas. Los nuevos químicos matan todo en el suelo por lo tanto puede imaginarse el impacto en la vida silvestre, calidad del suelo, fuentes de agua y personas.

7. Estas semillas contaminaron su suelo donde plantó por más de 50 años colza convencional. ¿Cómo? ¿Cuál considera que es la causa real de esa contaminación sino usó el herbicida glifosato?

-La causa real de contaminación con OMG en mi granja vino de mi vecino por el movimiento natural de semillas y polen.

8. Si se prohíbe el glifosato como reclaman en Argentina y en otros países latinoamericanos desaparecen las semillas transgénicas que deja millones de dólares y euros de ganancias a unos pocos. ¿Qué  objetivos maquiavélicos considera que hay realmente detrás de los transgénicos, los agroquímicos, las multinacionales, algunos grupos ecologista y los gobiernos? ¿Se está distrayendo de manera cómplice a la gente del real objetivo?

-El real propósito de los OMG nunca fue incrementar la producción o disminuir los químicos pero sí obtener el control del abastecimiento de semillas y por lo tanto de alimentos.

9. ¿Es cierto que las multinacionales han expresado: “A ningún agricultor se le debe permitir usar en la vida sus propias semillas” y que agricultores de soja de Dakota del Norte fueron perseguidos y juzgados como a Ud.?

Compañías como Monsanto establecen que a los granjeros nunca se les permitirá usar sus propias semillas pero sí deben comprarselas a ellos todos los años.

10. ¿Ud. desarrolló una variedad resistente a dos enfermedades típicas de la colza?.

Si, desarrollamos una nueva variedad de canola que es resistente a varias enfermedades.

11. ¿Cuanto dinero le exigió Monsanto debía pagarle y cómo financió su defensa y los costes judiciales?

-Monsato quería alrededor de 1 millón de dólares canadienses y el pleito nos costó a mi esposa y a mi $ 500.000,00. Este dinero salió de nuestro fondo de pensión y de donaciones de personas alrededor del mundo.

12. ¿Cómo es su situación judicial hoy con Monsanto? ¿Recibió presiones?

-Actualmente no tengo ningún juicio con Monsanto.

13- ¿Si las multinacionales controlan las semillas, controlan a los pueblos, quedándose con  las tierras de los campesinos y destruyendo así la soberanía de los países sin guerras ni sangre?

-Si Monsanto controla las semillas y el suministro de alimentos del mundo, controlará a los países y a las personas.

14. ¿Los gobiernos del mundo son cómplices? ¿Reparten de esta manera el poder, ganancias y dominio de los pueblos con las multinacionales?

Pienso que hay mucha relación entre las multinacionales como Monsanto y los gobiernos, especialmente porque trabajan en conjunto para introducir los OMG.

15- ¿Ud. siente que muchos granjeros/campesinos de todo el mundo son los nuevos esclavos sin grilletes del siglo XXI gracias a esta corporaciones y al silencio de los políticos?

Hace mucho tiempo los granjeros eran controlados por lores, barones y reyes, hoy son controlados por las corporaciones.

16- Por favor, un mensaje a todos los agricultores del mundo y un mensaje a la sociedad que no sabe o se dedica a la agricultura, especialmente a los jóvenes.

Nunca se debería haber permitido introducir OMG al medioambiente. Si y cuando esto sucede, se pierde la biodiversidad, los granjeros orgánicos o convencionales dejan de existir, y el total control de los cultivos como los conocemos estará en manos de las corporaciones. (fin entrevista)

Agradecemos al Sr. Schmeiser por la entrevista concedida. Su voz, aunque no sea coincidente con otras voces, tiene el derecho de ser difundida. Cada uno expone su realidad y vivencias. Cada cual, sabrá sacar sus propias conclusiones y hallar la verdad. Esta entrevista fue realizada en septiembre de 2010 y respondida en la fecha. Han sucedido muchas cosas desde entonces y las conclusiones y posturas personales de cada uno van variando, sin modificar la convicción de que los agroquímicos mal utilizados, el abuso, las mezclas y lo que denuncian los ciudadanos en todo el mundo, nos dice que algo grave está sucediendo. Bahianoticias jamás pondrá en duda aquello que expresan los padres de niños afectados, jóvenes y algunos adultos. En ellos, si confiamos y siempre contarán con nuestro apoyo para difundir sus voces.

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Silvia L. Paglioni – Directora de Bahianoticias.com
Alicia Vega – Colaboradora permanente y Traductora de BN
Bahía Blanca – Argentina

 

Si alguien desea saber que piensa Monsanto, ir a este link: http://www.monsanto.es/noticias-y-recursos/hablemos-claro/percy-schmeiser

 

 

 

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Personal Interview to Mr. Percy Schmeiser

 

Interview- Bahianoticias.com – Bahía Blanca – Argentina – Bruno, Saskatchewan – Canadá – 11/11/2010

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Personal Interview to Mr. Percy Schmeiser : “I believe there is a great relationship between Multi-Nationals like Monsanto and governments, especially when they work together to introduce GMO’s.”

Bahianoticias.com – In September, we made an interview with Percy Schmeiser. It was led by Silvia Paglioni and translated by Alicia Vega. The  interview was answered at the time and share with our readers.

Percy Schmeiser is a farmer from Bruno, Saskatchewan Canada whose Canola fields were contaminated with Monsanto’s Round-Up Ready Canola. Monsanto’s position was that it didn’t matter whether Schmeiser knew or not that his canola field was contaminated with the Roundup Ready gene, or whether or not he took advantage of the technology (he didn’t); that he must pay Monsanto their Technology Fee of $15./acre. The Supreme Court of Canada agreed with Schmeiser, ruling that he didn’t have to pay Monsanto anything….

In an out of court settlement finalized on March 19, 2008, Percy Schmeiser has settled his lawsuit with Monsanto. Monsanto has agreed to pay all the clean-up costs of the Roundup Ready canola that contaminated Schmeiser’s fields. Also part of the agreement was that there was no gag-order on the settlement and that Monsanto could be sued again if further contamination occurred. Schmeiser believes this precedent setting agreement ensures that farmers will be entitled to reimbursement when their fields become contaminated with unwanted Roundup Ready canola or any other unwanted GMO plants.

1- ( Entrevistadora Silvia Paglioni) Do You know if Monsanto owns big extensions of land?

(Entrevistado Percy Schmeiser) - I do not know if Monsanto has any land owned by them, except the numerous test plots that they have. So a farmer would not be farming this land.

2- If the seed has transgenic traits  because cross-pollination, do farmers lose all their rights and freedoms in order to plant and grow what they want because they infringe the patents of these multinationals?

 If any farmer is contaminated by cross-pollination or direct seed movement, he is not allowed to use his seed the following year, or at anytime again in the future. If the farmer uses the contaminated seed he violates Monsantos’ Gene Patent and could be fined or taken to court by Monsanto.

3- If only one transgenic seed  can become  in 10,000 seeds in one year, in a short time we have many fields with transgenic seeds, (carried by wind, rain, birds). I see two serious details, farmers in danger of being judged by them and if I move to my country (Argentina) and the transgenic soybeans, there is no solution. It is unstoppable. What do you think?

Once GMO’s are introduced, there is no such thing as co-existance and cross-pollination is unstoppable.

4. Justice believes that the polluter should not pay, but the contaminated?

What is happening with patents on genes is that the farmer who is contaminated loses his rights to hold and use his own seeds. The farmer becomes the victim.

5. If you do not buy the herbicide glyphosate, you can not buy the seeds.  Didn´t you use the herbicide glyphosate?. Was it because of that, they judjed you?

If you buy GMO seeds, you would have to buy glyphosate to kill the weeds otherwise you would not gain any benefit from planting the GMO’s. I did not use the herbicide glyphosate on my canola, so I did not benefit.

6. What do you know about its adverse effects on soil, animals and human health?

Superweeds have become more and more common because of increase use of glyphosate resulting in the use of stronger and more toxic chemicals to kill these new weeds. These new chemicals kill most everything in the soil so you can imagine the impact on wildlife, soil quality, watershed and people.

7. These seeds contaminated the soil where you planted, for more than 50 years,  conventional canola. How? What do you feel is the real cause of this pollution, if you didn´t use  the herbicide glyphosate?

The real cause of GMO pollution on my farm came from my neighbour who had grown it and the natural movement of seed and pollin.

8.If glyphosate is prohibited as claimed in Argentina and other Latin American countries,  transgenic seeds which produce  millions of dollars and euros of profits will disappear. What  Machiavellian objectives do you consider that there is really behind GM, agrochemicals, multinational corporations, environmental groups and governments? Are they distracting people from the real objective?

The real purpose of GMO’s was never for increase yeilds or less chemicals but to gain control of the seed supply and then food supply.

9. Is it true that multinationals have expressed: “No farmer should be allowed to use its own seeds in the life.” And is it true that  soybean farmers in North Dakota were prosecuted and judged as to you?

Companies like Monsanto have stated that farmers should never be allowed to use their own seed, but should have to buy seed from them each year.

10. Did you developed a variety resistant to two typical disease of canola?.

Yes we did develope a new variety of canola that was resistant to various diseases.

11. How much money did Monsanto demand you should pay and how did you finance your defense and court costs?

Monsanto wanted well over $1 Million Cdn Dollars, and in the end fighting Monsanto cost my wife and myself about $500,000.00. This money came from our pension fund and from the various donations from people around the world.

12. How is the court case with Monsanto today? Did you receive pressures?

At the present time I have no court case against Monsanto.

13. Do you agree that if multinationals control seeds (FOOD), they  control people, they keep the land from farmers and destroy the sovereignty of the country without wars and blood?

If Monsanto controls the seed and food supply of the world they will control people and countries.

14. Are the world’s governments complicit? Did they  share power, profit and domination of people with Multinationals?

I believe there is a great relationship between Multi-Nationals like Monsanto and governments, especially when they work together to introduce GMO’s.

15. Do you feel that many farmers  around the world are the new unfettered slaves of the XXI century thanks to corporations and the silence of politicians?

Many years ago, farmers were controlled by Lords, Barrons, and Kings, but now they are being controlled by corporations.

16. Please, a message to all farmers in the world and a message to society that does not know or are not  engaged in agriculture, especially  young people.

GMO’s should never be allowed to be introduced to the environment. If and when this happens, you lose your biodiversity, organic or conventional farmers cease to exist, and total control of farming as we know today will now be in the hands of the corporations. (fin)

We thank Mr. Schmeiser for the interview. His voice, though it is not coincident with other voices, has the right to be widespread. Each one exposes the reality and experiences. EveryOne will know to draw their own conclusions and find the truth. This interview was done in September 2010 and answered at the time. Many things has happened since then and the conclusions and personal views of each vary, without changing the belief that misused, abused and mixtured agrochemicals reported by citizens around the world, tells us that something serious is happening. Bahianoticias certainly will never express  doubt about what parents of affected children, youth and some adults say. We trust  in them and always count on our support to disseminate their voices.

Silvia Paglioni – Director in Bahianoticias.com
Alicia Vega- Partner with Translates BN
Bahía Blanca – Argentina

If you want to know what MONSANTO says, go to this link: http://www.monsanto.es/noticias-y-recursos/hablemos-claro/percy-schmeiser

 

 

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Monsanto Canada Inc. v. Schmeiser

 

Monsanto Canada Inc. v. Schmeiser [2004] 1 S.C.R. 902, 2004 SCC 34 is a leading Supreme Court of Canada case on patent rights for biotechnology. The court heard the question of whether growing genetically modified plants constitutes "use" of the patented invention of genetically modified plant cells. By a narrow 5-4 majority, the court ruled that it does. The case drew worldwide attention.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsanto_Canada_Inc._v._Schmeiser

 

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Background

 

The biotechnology company Monsanto developed a glyphosate-resistant gene for the canola plant which has the effect of producing canola that is resistant to their Roundup brand of herbicide. Monsanto marketed the seed as Roundup Ready Canola. Farmers using the system are able to control weed competition using Roundup, while avoiding damage to the Roundup-resistant crops. Users are required to enter into a formal agreement with Monsanto, which specifies that new seed must be purchased every year, and an annual licensing fee of C$15 per acre be paid. Roundup Ready Canola was introduced in Canada in 1996, and by 1998, it accounted for 25% of the country's canola area.[1]

 

In 1997, Percy Schmeiser, a canola breeder and grower in Bruno, Saskatchewan, discovered that a section of one of his fields contained canola that was resistant to herbicide Roundup. A farmhand later harvested and saved the seed from this area, which was used to replant in 1998. That harvest was sold for feed. During 1998, over 95% of Schmeiser's canola crop of approximately 1,000 acres (4 km²) was identified as the Roundup Ready variety.

Monsanto then sued Schmeiser for patent infringement, by keeping Roundup Ready canola seeds and failing to obtain a license for the canola plants. Schmeiser maintained that this was accidental. Patents being in federal jurisdiction, the case went to federal court.

 

Origin of the patented seed in Schmeiser's fields

 

As established in the original Federal Court trial decision, Schmeiser first discovered Roundup-resistant canola in his crops in 1997.[2] He had used Roundup herbicide to clear weeds around power poles and in ditches adjacent to a public road running beside one of his fields, and noticed that some of the canola which had been sprayed had survived. Schmeiser then performed a test by applying Roundup to an additional 3 acres (12,000 m2) to 4 acres (16,000 m2) of the same field. He found that 60% of the canola plants survived. At harvest time, Schmeiser instructed a farmhand to harvest the test field. That seed was stored separately from the rest of the harvest, and used the next year to seed approximately 1,000 acres (4 km²) of canola.

 

At the time, Roundup Ready canola was in use by several farmers in the area. Schmeiser claimed that he did not plant the initial Roundup Ready canola, and that his field of custom-bred canola had been accidentally contaminated. Possibly routes of this gene flow include seed which escaped from passing trucks containing Roundup Ready harvests, or natural, accidental pollination. Monsanto initially claimed that Schmeiser planted Roundup Ready Canola in his fields intentionally, though they could offer no evidence for this. The company later admitted that it was possible for unintentional gene flow to have resulted in the initial presence of Roundup Ready Canola in Schmeiser's field. While the origin of the plants on Schmeiser's farm remains unclear, the trial judge found that "none of the suggested sources [proposed by Schmeiser] could reasonably explain the concentration or extent of Roundup Ready canola of a commercial quality" ultimately present in Schmeiser's crop.[3]

 

 

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Patent rights versus property rights

 

Regarding the question of patent rights and the farmer's right to use seed taken from his fields, Monsanto said that because they hold a patent on the gene, and on canola cells containing the gene, they have a legal right to control its use, including the replanting of seed collected from plants with the gene which grew accidentally in someone else's field. Schmeiser insisted his right to save and replant seed from plants that have accidentally grown on his field overrides Monsanto's legal patent rights.

 

Canadian law does not mention any such "farmer's rights"; the court held that the farmer's right to save and replant seeds are simply the rights of a property owner over his or her property to use it as he or she wishes, and hence the right to use the seeds are subject to the same legal restrictions on use rights that apply in any case of ownership of property, including restrictions arising from patents in particular. That is to say, patent rights take priority over the right of the owner of physical property to use his property, and the entire point of a patent is to limit what the owner of physical property may do with that property,[citation needed] by forbidding him or her from using it to duplicate, produce or use a patented invention without permission of the patent owner. Overriding the rights of the physical property owner for the protection of the intellectual property owner is the explicit purpose of the Patent Act.[citation needed] As property rights are not constitutional rights they do not override statutes such as the Patent Act.

 

Publicity

 

Beginning with the lead-up to the initial Federal Court trial, the case drew widespread public attention and media coverage. The contest was portrayed as a David and Goliath struggle, with Schmeiser cast as the small farmer underdog fighting the unscrupulous major corporation. Both parties were well-suited to their respective roles. Schmeiser was articulate, outspoken, and politically savvy, having in the past served as the mayor of his town and a member of the provincial legislature in Saskatchewan. Monsanto had been dogged by bad press related to various aspects of its former chemical and current biotechnological businesses, called "Monsatan" and its GE products dubbed "Frankenfood". Environmental groups and anti-genetic engineering activists championed Schmeiser's cause, he spoke on the case around the world, and hundreds of thousands of dollars were raised from donations for his defense fund.

 

Monsanto v. Schmeiser was at times portrayed as part of the process of legally defining the bounds of new biotechnologies, including genetic engineering and ownership of higher lifeforms. The case was frequently connected with that of the so-called Harvard mouse, where in 2002 the Supreme Court had rejected a patent for a special breed of mouse developed for research by Harvard University. It was a precedent-setting case in the right to own higher lifeforms, where the Canadian ruling went against findings in the US and Europe, where the patent was upheld. This angle on Monsanto v. Schmeiser was misleading, as the Supreme Court eventually took pains to point out, as the case focused strictly on the application of existing patent law, and did not break new ground in biotechnology areas.

[edit] Initial trial and appealThe issues of patent infringement and "farmer's rights" were settled, in Monsanto's favour, at the trial before the Federal Court of Canada and upheld at the appeal level before the Federal Court of Appeal. Both courts found that a key element in Mr. Schmeiser's patent infringement in his 1998 crop was that he knew or ought to have known the nature of the seed he planted.

 

The case was initially tried on June 5–20, 2000, in the Federal Court of Canada, at Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

All claims relating to Roundup Ready canola in Schmeiser's 1997 canola crop were dropped prior to trial and the court only considered the canola in Schmeiser's 1998 fields. Regarding his 1998 crop, Schmeiser did not put forward any defence of accidental contamination. The evidence showed that the level of Roundup Ready canola in Mr. Schmeiser's 1998 fields was 95-98% (See paragraph 53 of the trial ruling). Evidence was presented indicating that such a level of purity could not occur by accidental means. On the basis of this the court found that Schmeiser had either known "or ought to have known" that he had planted Roundup Ready canola in 1998. Given this, the question of whether the canola in his fields in 1997 arrived there accidentally was ruled to be irrelevant. Nonetheless, at trial, Monsanto was able to present evidence sufficient to persuade the Court that Roundup Ready canola had probably not appeared in Schmeiser's 1997 field by such accidental means (paragraph 118). The court said it was persuaded "on the balance of probabilities" (the standard of proof in civil cases, meaning "more probable than not" i.e. strictly greater than 50% probability) that the Roundup Ready canola in Mr. Schmeiser's 1997 field had not arrived there by any of the accidental means, such as spillage from a truck or pollen travelling on the wind, that Mr. Schmeiser had proposed.

 

In the public arena, Schmeiser supporters argued that his account still leaves open the possibility that the harvesting and replanting of Roundup Ready canola from the sprayed region was accidental and resulted from a miscommunication between Schmeiser and his farmhand, or from a failure of Schmeiser to have the presence of mind to instruct his farmhand to avoid taking canola seed for replanting from the sprayed region. Supporters of Monsanto argued that an oversight of this nature is not plausible, especially in light of Schmeiser's claims regarding the extent to which he considered Roundup Ready canola undesirable in his fields and the importance he claims to have placed on the continued survival of his own strain of canola, and in light of his having been notified prior to planting his 1998 crop that Monsanto believed he had grown Roundup Ready canola in 1997. Legally, an oversight of this nature is not a defence against patent infringement, and was therefore irrelevant. Patents are civil law, and the presence or absence of "guilty intent" is not a factor in determining patent infringement. On this point, the Federal Court of Appeal noted that the case of accidental genetic contamination of a crop beyond a farmer's control should be an exception to the rule that intent is not an issue in patent disputes.

 

The Court's ruling concluded:

... on the balance of probabilities, the defendants infringed a number of the claims under the plaintiffs’ Canadian patent number 1,313,830 by planting, in 1998, without leave or licence by the plaintiffs, canola fields with seed saved from the 1997 crop which seed was known, or ought to have been known by the defendants to be Roundup tolerant and when tested was found to contain the gene and cells claimed under the plaintiffs’ patent. By selling the seed harvested in 1998 the defendants further infringed the plaintiffs’ patent."[2]
The case was then heard by the Federal Court of Appeal at Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, beginning May 15, 2002. The Federal Court of Appeal upheld the ruling of the trial judge.

 

The Federal Court of Appeal in particular stressed the importance of the finding that Schmeiser had knowingly used the seed, in their decision to find Schmeiser in infringement of the patent, and noted that in a case of accidental contamination or a case where the farmer knew of the presence of the gene but took no action to increase its prevalence in his crop, a different ruling could be possible (see paragraphs 55-58 of the appeal ruling).[4] No damages were assessed against Percy Schmeiser, the private individual. Only Mr. Schmeiser's farming corporation, Schmeiser Enterprises Ltd., was held liable, as Mr. Schmeiser had acted in his capacity as director of the corporation.

 

Leave was requested of the Supreme Court of Canada to hear the case. This was granted in May, 2003, and the trial began on January 20, 2004. The issue before the Supreme Court was whether Schmeiser's planting and cultivation of genetically modified canola constituted "use" of Monsanto's patented invention of genetically modified canola cells.

Intervening on Schmeiser’s behalf were a consortium of six non-government organizations (Council of Canadians; Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration; Sierra Club; National Farmers Union; Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology; and the International Center for Technology Assessment) and the Attorney General of Ontario.[5][6]

 

 

Arguments

 

Schmeiser's principal defense at trial was that as he had not applied Roundup herbicide to his canola he had not used the invention. This argument was rejected; the court said that the patent granted for the invention did not specify the use of Roundup as part of the invention, and thus there was no basis for introducing the requirement that Roundup had to be used in order for the invention to be used. That is, a patent prohibits unauthorized use of an invention in any manner, not merely unauthorized use for its intended purpose.

 

The Court considered the question of whether knowingly (or, where one ought to have known) planting and cultivating genetically modified canola constitutes "use" of Monsanto's patented invention of genetically modified canola cells, even if the crop is not treated with Roundup and the presence of the gene affords no advantage to the farmer. The court ruled in favour of Monsanto, holding that his use of the patented genes and cells was analogous to the use of a machine containing a patented part: "It is no defense to say that the thing actually used was not patented, but only one of its components." The court also held that by planting genetically modified Roundup resistant canola, Schmeiser made use of the "stand-by" or insurance utility of the invention. That is, he left himself the option of using Roundup on the crop should the need arise. This was considered to be analogous to the installation of patented pumps on a ship: even if the pumps are never actually switched on, they are still used by being available for pumping if the need arises.

 

Judgment

 

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Monsanto. Schmeiser won a partial victory, where the court held that he did not have to pay Monsanto his profits from his 1998 crop, since the presence of the gene in his crops had not afforded him any advantage and he had made no profits on the crop that were attributable to the invention. The amount of profits at stake was relatively small, C$19,832, however by not having to pay damages, Schmeiser was also saved from having to pay Monsanto's legal bills, which amounted to several hundred thousand dollars and exceeded his own.

[edit] Reasons of the CourtThe majority was written by McLachlin C.J. with Major, Binnie, Deschamps and Fish JJ. concurring.

 

The Court dismissed the argument that "use" of patented cells or genes applied only in the context of their isolated form. Nor does the fact that Schmeiser did not use Roundup herbicide on his crops preclude "use" of the gene. Even though the plants propagate without human intervention the realities of modern agriculture mean there is always human intervention in the growth of plants and thus farming is a method of "use" of plant genes.

The Court ruled that Schmeiser deprived Monsanto of its monopoly on the special canola plant by storing and planting the Roundup Ready canola seeds pursuant to his commercial interests. Thus, Schmeiser is considered to have infringed section 42 of the Patent Act. The Court, however, disagreed with the damages given by the trial judge as there was no profit directly resulting from the invention itself.

 

In the ruling, the court made it clear that patent infringement was the sole consideration, and concerns related to genetic engineering in agriculture were not within the scope of the case:

 

93 Inventions in the field of agriculture may give rise to concerns not raised in other fields -- moral concerns about whether it is right to manipulate genes in order to obtain better weed control or higher yields. It is open to Parliament to consider these concerns and amend the Patent Act should it find them persuasive.
94 Our task, however, is to interpret and apply the Patent Act as it stands, in accordance with settled principles. Under the present Act, an invention in the domain of agriculture is as deserving of protection as an invention in the domain of mechanical science. Where Parliament has not seen fit to distinguish between inventions concerning plants and other inventions, neither should the courts.

Dissent

 

Arbour J., writing for Iacobucci, Bastarache, and LeBel JJ., dissented in part. The reasoning of the dissent closely follows that of the majority in Harvard College v. Canada (Commissioner of Patents) that concluded that though a company can patent products and processes, they cannot patent higher forms of life such as the whole plant itself. That is, "the plant cell claim cannot extend past the point where the genetically modified cell begins to multiply and differentiate into plant tissues, at which point the claim would be for every cell in the plant" (para. 138), which would extend the patent too far. The patent can only be for the founder plant and not necessarily its offspring.

 

 

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Consequences

 

After about six years of court battling, Schmeiser guesses his legal bills have totalled close to C$400,000. Schmeiser says he has lost the right to use his strain of canola, which took him 50 years to develop, because he can not prove they do not include the Roundup Ready gene Monsanto patented. Furthermore, he says that on the advice of his lawyers, he destroyed all his seed and purchased new seed, so his strain of canola no longer exists, which presents an additional obstacle to his continuing to farm it. However, he was ordered to turn over all his remaining seed from his 1997 and 1998 crops to Monsanto, so even if he hadn't eradicated his own strain on his own initiative, it would likely not have survived. This interpretation is not consistent with the court rulings, which place no onus on a farmer in general nor Schmeiser in particular (for example, see paragraph 76 of the Federal Court of Appeal ruling) to prove the absence of the patented gene prior to growing seed.

 

The courts at all three levels noted that the case of accidental contamination beyond the farmer's control was not under consideration but rather that Mr. Schmeiser's action of having identified, isolated and saved the Roundup-resistant seed placed the case in a different category. The appellate court also discussed a possible intermediate scenario, in which a farmer is aware of contamination of his crop by genetically modified seed, but tolerates its presence and takes no action to increase its abundance in his crop. The court held that whether such a case would constitute patent infringement remains an open question[citation needed] but that it was a question that did not need to be decided in the Schmeiser case.

 

The ruling did increase the protection available to biotechnology companies in Canada, a situation which had been left open with the Harvard mouse decision, where it was determined that a "higher lifeform", such as an animal, or by extension a plant, cannot be patented. This put Canada at odds with the other G8 countries where the patent had been granted. In Monsanto vs. Schmeiser, it was determined that protection of a patented gene or cell extends to its presence in a whole plant, even while the plant itself, as a higher lifeform, cannot be patented. This majority view, based on the precedent of mechanical devices, was central to the Supreme Court's decision, and put the onus on the Canadian Parliament to make distinctions between machines and lifeforms as it saw fit.

In 2005, a "documentary theatre" production dramatizing the court battle, entitled Seeds, by Annabel Soutar, was staged in Montreal. The dialogue was derived entirely verbatim from various archival sources.

 

 

References

  1. ^ Achievements in Plant Biotechnology - Evaluation: Canola. Monsanto Company; 2001. Retrieved 4-Apr-2006.
  2. ^ a b Federal court of Canada. Monsanto Canada Inc. v. Schmeiser Date: 20010329 Docket: T-1593-98 Retrieved 26-Mar-2006.
  3. ^ Albainy-Jenei, Stephen R. "Muckraking Columnist Takes on Biotech Industry". 16-Dec-2005. Retrieved 25-Mar-2006.
  4. ^ Federal Court of Appeal of Canada. [http://decisions.fca-caf.gc.ca/en/2002/2002fca309/2002fca309.html Monsanto Canada Inc. v. Schmeiser (C.A.) [2003] 2 F.C. 165]. Retrieved 25-Mar-2006.
  5. ^ Canada’s Supreme Court Hears Percy Schmeiser’s Appeal, History Commons, January 20, 2004
  6. ^ Small farmer's fight becomes anti-biotech crusade By Paul Elias, USA TODAY, 1/19/2004
  7. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsanto_Canada_Inc._v._Schmeiser
  8. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsanto_Canada_Inc._v._Schmeiser
  9. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsanto_Canada_Inc._v._Schmeiser

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