Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Monsanto Wins Supreme Court Victory

The constantly controversial Monsanto (the company that brought you Agent Orange, Nutrasweet, and DDT) has won a surprising victory in the U.S. Supreme Court: an injuction has been lifted that had been a stumbling block for Monsanto's plan to sell genetically modified alfalfa seeds without having completed safety tests on them. A lower court had previously barred the sale of their modified alfalfa seeds as scientists warned of the potential danger of the "Frankenfood" plants cross-pollinating with other neighboring crops.

Monsanto was charged a few months ago in France for blatantly lying about the safety of their best-selling weed-killer, Roundup. Glyphosate, Roundup's main ingredient, is classed as "dangerous for the environment" by the European Union. (A Monsanto shill actually stated that Roundup is "safer than table salt" - I'd love to see him consume some of the stuff, then.)

According to a recent Associated Press article, Monsanto's patented genes are inserted into roughly 95 percent of all soybeans and 80 percent of all corn grown in the United States. In other words, it's nearly impossible to avoid Monsanto products. This is disturbing enough on its own merits, but even more so when you consider studies that suggest that Monsanto corn is dangerous to your health.

There are more horror stories about Monsanto than I would have the patience to relay here, or you would have to patience to read. However, I strongly recommend you check out the documentaries Food, Inc. and The World According to Monsanto which is viewable on YouTube.

More relevant to this blog, however, is that we haven't forgotten the case of Kentucky farmer David Chaney who made worldwide headlines when busted by Monsanto's "gene cops". His crime? Saving his own soybeans for the purpose of replanting.

You see, Monsanto wants farmers to purchase new seeds from them every year, and they believe they have the right to stop anyone from planting seeds containing Monsanto's genetic markers. They're calling it 'seed piracy' even though there's no real similarity to other so-called "pirating" like home taping - seems logical enough to me that if you purchase seeds, you unequivocally own the plants that grow from them, and in turn you own whatever your plants produce. But Monsanto doesn't see it that way, and to the astonishment of many observers, the U.S. Government and the law have often come down on Monsanto's side, allowing them to patent life forms as "intellectual property".

But despite the Supreme Court ruling, this victory isn't quite the one Monsanto was hoping for. The ban on their alfalfa is technically still in place, and will remain so for a least a year pending USDA deregulation, which may or may not take place. The Center for Food Safety notes:

Generally speaking, Monsanto asked the Supreme Court to rule on three main issues: (1) to lift the injunction on GMO alfalfa; (2) to allow the planting and sale of GMO alfalfa; (3) to rule that contamination from GMO crops not be considered irreparable harm. In fact, the court only ruled on the first request which it did affirm by stating that the injunction was overly broad and should be overturned; however, the Court ruled in CFS’s favor on the other two issues, which in many ways are more important as the fact remains that the planting and sale of GMO alfalfa remains illegal.

I was a bit surprised to find that Monsanto has an official blog filled with self-serving disinformation, and that they're heckling the Center for Food Safety in a rather unprofessional, snarky, and downright bitchy manner:

According to CFS, they are “celebrating” today the victory of a 7-1 ruling against them. I guess maybe CFS runs with a glass half-full mentality.

We had a reporter call and ask if CFS mistakenly issued the wrong statement. Go figure.

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