(NaturalNews) For at least a decade, Monsanto, the world's most evil corporation, has been illegally charging Brazilian farmers growing the company's genetically-modified (GM) crops a two percent tax on production, and a three percent tax for cross-contamination of seed, say plaintiffs in a new lawsuit. And according to CorpWatch, the agri-giant could soon have to fork over $7.5 billion in reimbursements to more than five million Brazilian farmers as a result of these blatant crimes.
Oddly enough, Monsanto's very presence in Brazil was predicated on fraud, as its GM soy seeds were first smuggled into the country illegally back in 1998. Fast forward about 13 years and nearly 75 million acres of arable land in Brazil are now occupied by Monsanto's GM crops, the vast majority of which constitute Roundup Ready soy.
But the entire Monsanto growing system for GMOs, which prohibits farmers from freely saving seeds and reusing them the following year -- and in this case, requires farmers to pay private taxes directly to Monsanto to do so -- is entirely against the law in Brazil. Even though former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio "Lula" Da Silva basically grandfathered-in legalization for Monsanto's GM crops back in 2005 because they were already being widely grown in the country illegally, Monsanto is still breaking the law by levying taxes against farmers and requiring them to pay royalties.
"The law gives producers the right to multiply the seeds they buy and nowhere in the world is there a requirement to pay (again)," said Jane Berwanger, a lawyer representing the Brazilian farmers in the case, concerning Monsanto's illegal user fees and taxes. "Producers are in effect paying a private tax on production."
Back in April, a judge in Rio Grande Do Sul, Brazil's southernmost state, ruled that Monsanto's user fees were illegal, and ordered the company to not only stop collecting them, but also to begin reimbursing farmers in that state for all fees collected since 2004. This judge also noted that Monsanto's Roundup Ready seed patent has already expired in Brazil.
Monsanto is attempting to appeal this decision, of course, but in the process could be making its final penalty even worse. In response to Monsanto's appeal, the Brazilian Supreme Court has decided that the Rio Grande Do Sul court's ultimate ruling, whatever that ends up being, will apply to every farmer throughout the country, and not just in Rio Grande Do Sul. If the case is won, this could make the final penalty for Monsanto upwards of $7.5 billion.
Monsanto has indicated that it plans to continue collecting fees and charging taxes until the courts issue their final ruling on the matter. But this ruling is not expected to be issued until 2014, which means it will be business as usual for Monsanto.