(NaturalNews) With all the bad news about Monsanto and other corporations who create and promote GMOs, here's a couple of good news items from the last couple of years to relieve some doom and gloom. Hopefully, these victories against GMO companies, one by an individual farmer in Canada, the other by a large rice collective in the USA, will inspire others to hold their ground.
Normally, bully Monsanto sues small independent farmers, forcing them to pay fees for GMO plants that grew from various sources of GMO contamination, not by the farmer's choice. But the expense and mental strain of lengthy legal procedures against a wealthy corporation with soulless attorneys is too much to bear. So many settle rather than go bankrupt with Monsanto seizing the farm.
Not this time Monsanto
A feisty Canadian commercial canola farmer, Percy Schmeiser, started his fight against Monsanto's intimidation tactics in 1998. This is not a promotion of canola, but the story of a farmer who has used, saved, and developed his own seeds on his own land for over 40 years, and his David versus Goliath struggle.
After discovering his crops had been contaminated with GMO seeds from neighboring farms and passing Monsanto trucks, he was sued by Monsanto for patent infringement. Monsanto has been in the business of intimidating farmers with a similar fate by suing them for patent infringement after their fields were contaminated from GMO farms.
This intimidation and harassment has either bankrupted farmers or forced them into signing onto Monsanto's seed plan. Big bully companies use lawsuits to financially destroy small businesses even if there is no actual violation. Schmeiser and his wife, both approaching 70, decided to fight it out on principle.
Patent law says there is no violation if a patented product is not used or stolen. After some back and forth court battles and appeals over ten years, Percy won. Monsanto agreed to settle out of court by paying for cleaning up Percy's farm and not issue a gag order (customary with settlements), which enables Percy to continue touring with his message of resisting GMO and corporate intimidation. The agreement also left Monsanto liable for any recontamination of Percy's farm.
Someone big enough challenges Bayer's GM rice
Sometimes when a big guy goes after a trouble maker, the trouble maker gets it big. In April 2011, Riceland Foods won a major case against Bayer Crop Science in the Arkansas State Court System. The case involved contamination from an experimental, unapproved GM rice, Liberty Link. Its function is withstanding unlimited use of Bayer's herbicide Liberty.
The rice that Bayer contaminated with GMOs came through Riceland Foods, the nation's largest rice co-operative that collects from USA rice farmers for distribution and export. Japan simply banned all rice from America, and EU nations insisted on strict inspections before committing to any purchases. Both regions are resisting GMOs.
Riceland was awarded $11.8 million in compensatory damages and $125 million in punitive damages. The jury also decided that Bayer was responsible for any loses from GMO contamination claimed by rice farmers. Indeed, exactly a year earlier for Riceland's victoy. Arkansas rice farmers had been awarded $5.9 million in compensatory damages and $42 million as punitive damages.