Saskathewan farmer prosecuted by Canadian courts, Monsanto : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

As a member of the Seed Saver's exchange, I receive a couple of publications of theirs every year. I received the 2001 Summer Edition day before yesterday and read with interest about an elderly Saskatchewan farmer, Percy Schmeiser, and how he has been found liable for growing genetically modified canola in with his own unmodified canola, prosecuted, and fined over $85,000 in fines and profits from his 1998 crop. I am quoting from the March 30, 2001 issue of The Washington Post, an article titled "Farmer Liable for Growing Biotech Crops" by Marc Kaufman. The first two paragraphs state; "A judge yesterday ordered a Canadian farmer to pay the biotechnology giant Monsanto Canada thousands of dollars because the company's genetically engineered canola plants were found growing on his field, apparently after pollen from the modified plants had blown onto his property from nearby farms." "The closely watched case was a major victory for companies that produce genetically modified crops and have been aggressively enforcing agreements that require farmers to pay yearly fees for using their technologies." The crop in question here is canola that has been genetically modified to be resistand to Roundup, a chemical that kills most plants.

To make a long story short, Schmeiser, a fifth generation farmer who had always saved part of his crop for the following years seed, was aware that some of the plants in his fields in 1997 were resistant to Roundup. He never denied this. However, as he did not purchase the seed from Monsanto, could not have been responsible for gm pollen that drifted into his fields from nearby gm crops, and did not intend to profit in any way from the presence of the g.m. canola by either selling the gm seed or spraying Roundup, he simply saved the seed of that crop to grow in '98, which he did. At that time, according to the Washington Post article, "Representatives of Monsanto Canada received reports from nearby farmers that Schmeiser was using Roundup Ready canola without an agreement. Private investigators collected samples from Schmeiser's fields and confirmed the presence of the modified canola."

Another author, E. Ann Clark, Associate Professor of Plant Agriculture at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, wrote an article titled "The Crime of Percy Schmeiser", copyright 2001, that outlines Schmeiser's case and asks the following pertinent questions; "Why should non-gm growers be obligated to adjust their rotation and herbicide schedules and field design in order to protect their own crops from contamination from neighboring gm crops" and "Why should non-gm growers have to absorb costs of coping with gene flow that is unwanted, involuntary, and unavoidable--or face prosecution?" and "Why should any farmer be forced to accept gm contamination in the seed they sow on their own land?" An Associated Press report on April 23, 2001, copyright, titled "Nearly 80 Seed Companies Find Biotech Contamination", and in part that "nearly 80 seed companied have found corn seed contaminated with traces of biotech variety linked to a nationwide recall of tach shells, according to the Agriculture Dept", and the article by E. Ann Clark states that "Cross contamination of seed crops with gm seed is now so pervasive that seed companies will no longer guarantee "100% gm free" even in the seed they sell to farmers" and that "in western Canada, an estimated 40% of farmers use gm seeds."

This seems to be a sort of test case for the Monsanto and other ag. biotech companies to see how the courts will rule. It clearly sets a dangerous precedent for farmers in Canada, the US, and throughout the world. At the rate of cross contamination, it's not inconceivable that in another 5 or 10 years all the canola in Canada will be contaminated, and then what about crops here in the US? What will Monsanto do then? Prosecute every farmer in the country? Percy Schmeiser has already spent over $200,000 of his retirement fund in legal costs, and is expected to spend even more as he has filed a counter suit against Monsanto.

Further information and articles can be seen at The 62 decision by Canada's federal court judge Andrew McKay can be seen at And another site is the Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) at

Another question that occurs to me is whether or not this gm contamination will trickle down into the 'home' seed market?

-- HannahMariaHolly (, August 06, 2001


I am tempted to blame the insanity on the Canadian courts, but then reality forces me to face the truth, that our courts here in the US arent any more reasonable.

-- daffodyllady (, August 06, 2001.

Just shows once more who's really in charge. It's not the people, it's not the government - it's Big Business!

-- Cheryl in KS (, August 06, 2001.

Id sue the company,, for pollen tresspass. It was there pollen that got into his fields,, sounds like tresspassing to me

-- STAN (, August 06, 2001.

There is also a suit going on in North Dakota where Monsanto is suing a family farmer for growing Roundup Soybeans in the wrong year. Not sure of the details. Also, I know if a situation where Monsanto told a seed and chemical dealer that he had to sell Roundup exclusively and no other brands and if he did sell the other brand, they would lower the prices at other dealers to force him out of business. Hmmm.

-- JoAnn in SD (, August 06, 2001.

What about a counter suit for contamanation of his crop from the pollen that was let loose in the general air by the corp growing it. I would not lay down without a fight.

-- Teresa (, August 07, 2001.

Does this pollenation contamination mean that we are doomed to lose vital heirloom seed stock??? Should be a law against this. If the enviromentalists can take peoples land away for "heritage purposes or biospere purposes" why can't we get them to work in our favor? Cut into gm companies that contaminate seed species????

-- stephanie nosacek (, August 07, 2001.

Hmmmm.....private investigators got into his fields and collected samples....are there grounds for charging them with trespassing? thievery? vandalism?

-- Chelsea (, August 07, 2001.

Just confirms what I already knew. Monsanto is EVIL! They should be required to pay the farmer for contaminating his crops!

-- debra in ks (, August 07, 2001.

Just shows once more who's really in charge. It's not the people, it's not the government - it's Big Business!


Actually, it's govt. and business TOGETHER that you need to be worried about. Actually....ANY special interest and govt. Enviro's to kick you off your land, and big business to make sure you can't earn a living unless you're beholding to them.


-- lew (, August 07, 2001.

I thought Canola was a name for the oil from other types of seed. Is there really a "canola" plant?

-- glynnis in KY (, August 09, 2001.

Canola means Canada Oil. Canola oil comes from the seeds of the rape plant, which is a mustard relative,(or something like that.) Something to consider: rape seed is toxic. do a little research, and see what you can find about Canola Oil. I am stopping use of it in our household anyhow.

-- daffodyllady (, August 09, 2001.

Canola isn't toxic. That's the difference - long time ago now (50 years? More? I think even just before WW2) Canada started selecting rape plants to produce edible domestic oil. They selected varieties which didn't contain much of the (linoic? linolenic? linoleic?) acid which makes rapeseed oil just a commercial product. Thus Canola plants.

However, rape can be a weed in cereals or pastures. Related plants (wild mustard, wild turnip, etc.) can also; and it REALLY REALLY isn't a good idea to produce plants which WILL pass their resistance to Roundup on to the gene pool of weed species.

-- Don Armstrong (, August 09, 2001.

Canadian courts persecution of Mr. Shmeiser and other farmers who *break the law* is not a reflection of Saskatchewan, and Canadian peoples will. The Crown, the government and the judges are an elite bunch detached from the people. I cant wait for the day when the Crown shall be overthrown, and Canadian Wheat Board abolished.

-- Alexander Levin (, August 12, 2001.

Come the revolution ...

-- Sojourner (notime4@summer.spam), August 12, 2001.

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