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Hooray for the good guys. I am a staunch technology advocate who believes in GM food used for the benefit of others. Vitamin-enriched corn, etc. I’m totally against what Monsanto is doing with GM as a proprietary technology placeholder to make farmers wage slaves. This rejection of some of the more distasteful patents is a victorious blow against those who see technology as a way to exploit others.

The Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) announced today that the United States Patent and Trademark Office has rejected four key Monsanto patents related to genetically modified crops that PUBPAT challenged last year because the agricultural giant is using them to harass, intimidate, sue – and in some cases literally bankrupt – American farmers.  In its Office Actions rejecting each of the patents, the USPTO held that evidence submitted by PUBPAT, in addition to other prior art located by the Patent Office’s Examiners, showed that Monsanto was not entitled to any of the patents.

Monsanto has filed dozens of patent infringement lawsuits asserting the four challenged patents against American farmers, many of whom are unable to hire adequate representation to defend themselves in court.  The crime these farmers are accused of is nothing more than saving seed from one year’s crop to replant the following year, something farmers have done since the beginning of time.

The attempt to make seed a non-renewable product goes beyond greed for money and power, it is downright dangerous to the economy and the ecology. How do the people who made these plans in the first place sleep at night?



  1. bobbo says:

    How long will it take BushCo to replace the USPO folks?

    tick, tick, tick

  2. Mark Derail says:

    Seconded.

    It seems Monsanto strayed from the path of aiding humanity to wanting total control of the markets and profits.

    I remember watching starry eyed a documentary in the 70’s on how splicing wheat genes with bamboo or rice genes, to make faster growing wheat, saving Africa from starvation.
    Genes from bug resistant weeds, to make the wheat unappetizing to locusts.

    Oh how the future looked promising. Now it’s you have to use our seeds, you have to use our fertilizer, you have to use our pesticides. You have to use Monsanto products or lose your farm.

    How do they sleep at night? Ah, white collar crime.

  3. BubbaRay says:

    Yay! for the farmers, many of us owe our heritage to hardworking folks that actually make a living “off the land.”

    The fun has just begun, and with a shark named “Snively”, it just conjures up a mental image too humorous to ignore — this is from five years ago:

    “Syngenta is threatening American corn and cotton farmers without attempting to resolve their dispute outside the courtroom,” says David F. Snively, Monsanto’s assistant general counsel, adding that farmers have used such corn and cotton products for years.

    http://pubs.acs.org/cen/topstory/8031/8031notw4.html

  4. Gig says:

    So no new GM foods because now the companies can’t assure that they will be able to make money on it.

    Hoorah for …

  5. Guyver says:

    It is my understanding that these Farmers sign a contractual agreement not to re-sell or reuse seeds generated from crops.

    There’s that one case I vaguely remember where a corn that was unsuitable for human consumption ended up getting in our food supplies and companies like Taco Bell had to destroy tons of this stuff.

    I’m not a big fan of any GM foods, but I’ve always wondered about one of those end of the world scenarios where GM foods are made to be sterile, natural foods are weeded out of the system, some snafu happens and the GM crops die out and we have a famine. What then?

    But in either case, I’m sympathetic to the farmers but if they got in on a contractual agreement, I don’t see what the big deal is. Not to mention, Monsantos is not the only seed provider farmers can go to.

  6. Rob R says:

    I agree with #5 Guyver. US farming is a business, last time I checked. No one forced those businessmen to sign the contracts, did they? And good for them that they broke the patents, forcing Monsanto to develop a business model more to their liking.

    Finally, News Flash: dealing with large companies is dangerous.
    E.g., the recording industry, Microsoft, credit card companies, mortgage bankers. Monsanto is hardly alone in destroying those who cross them or even get in their way.

  7. ECA says:

    Monsanto has been doing this for 20 years…
    They even send Seed that will NOT grow a second year, infertile seed crops. To other countries…

  8. Gig says:

    #7 And you are going to be seeing more of that because now they can’t protect their product even here in the US.

  9. MikeR says:

    Try this older story – then search cbc.ca for more Monsanto
    http://tinyurl.com/2xqeaz

  10. Ballenger says:

    One of the larger crock of crap talking points from GM developers is that they are in the game to help solve the problem of world hunger. Food supply isn’t the problem, for the most part it’s bad or indifferent delivery systems that kill people. Focusing R&D efforts on Terminator Scrooge-corn development doesn’t even make sense. From a business perspective when blackmail becomes a product feature your customer’s next step will be to find an alternative product. Their most likely choice won’t be one with your logo on the container. Even farmers continuing to use “can I have another please sir?” seed will eventually notice they have a more profitable option in non-GM crops. Any farmer that doesn’t believe that should head to a Whole Foods and price check a tomato.

  11. Angel H. Wong says:

    #6

    The problem is, that ALL these companies offer the same product with the same restrictions. What other choice do US farmers have? It’s not like they can let the land sit for months, most of the farmers work with debts from previous seasons and it puts pressure on them to produce.

    It’s pretty much in the preLinux era, you either get stuck with a PC with a clunky Windoze filled with bugs, get an OS/2 that won’t accept anything not made by IBM, or spend $2000+ on a mac just to do a spreadsheet.

    Just for the record, Monsanto did the same thing in India, specially with Basmati Rice, and the Indian farmers gave them a big fuckyou and won the case.

  12. Ron Larson says:

    Anyone notice the similarities between this the MPAA & RIAA attempts to restrict you the public can do with films and music you own (DRM)? Contract or not, is there such a thing as “Fair Use”? Do farmer’s have any fair use rights with the products they purchased?

  13. Uncle Patso says:

    #12 said
    “Contract or not, is there such a thing as “Fair Use”? Do farmer’s have any fair use rights with the products they purchased?”

    The short answer is, No, the corporations own everything, and you’d better get used to it right now.

    I, for one, _welcome_ our new corporate overlords.

  14. Guyver says:

    13. The corporations own what they believe to be their intellectual property. They know they cannot own Mother Nature. How do you patent corn in general? It’s being reduced down to how drug companies pantent their products. Monsantos can patent their corn from the genetic tweaks they have done with Mother Nature’s.

    So they entice farmers with genetically engieered foods that grow faster in terrible conditions and thus make farming a convenience for the farmer. Farmers are addicted to this convenience. Farmers are not being caught off guard here. They’re trying to not get caught breaking a contract they agreed to and then welch on it to save money.

    If I buy music or a movie, I sign no such contract and will exercise my Fair Use Rights to the fullest. Either way, I have no desire to eat genetically modified foods. The problem is we are all pretty much eating it now because there are no laws requiring the labeling of genetically modified foods. The only way around this is to buy foods that say “No GMOs”.

  15. Bill Franklin says:

    Finally! Now I can start a company where I buy some seeds from Monsanto that they spent millions to develop, plant the seeds and harvest the crops, and start selling the seeds from my crop to other farmers for a fraction of the price! Why not, they’re my seeds, right? I sure hope my undercutting all of Monsanto’s business doesn’t cause Monsanto to stop investing millions to make seeds that are healthier or resistant to disease.

    Seriously people, think cause and effect here. Nobody is forcing any farmers to use Monsanto seeds. If you want to use them, you have to buy them from Monsanto every year. Is that so wrong?

  16. Peter says:

    Ecologically, for the planet and for humanity, big agri-business is a terrible thing. Seeds for Monsanto/Pioneer and other big seed companies is mostly grown in the formerly forested areas of the Amazon rainforest (Strike 1). The genetic variability of the seed stock keeps shrinking each year, and we are setting ourselves up for a more and more serious problem the more we move towards a monoculture (Strike 2). Sooner or later we’ll have a crop failure (Strike 3 )- either in the seed stocks, or in the food crops. Either way it will be an enormous disaster – economically, and maybe even a worldwide famine.


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