Open pollinated seed vs Monsanto genetic engineered seed: David and Goliath?
Monsanto's Destruction of Seed Cleaners and the Immense Threat to Human Access to Seeds
by Linn Cohen-Cole
Life itself depends on seeds. Multinational biotech corporations such as Monsanto have been genetically engineering them, promoting GE-seeds as producing better yields, helping the starving of the world, using less pesticides and as a boon to small farmers.
Independent studies already show crop failures and a link between GE-crops and organ damage and various diseases and it's clear they are designed to require petroleum-based pesticides and the use of pesticides has gone up with their use.
But even if the GE-seeds were wonderful and all that was promised, the real problem is the patents they come with.
In India, where Bt-cotton farmers have been committing suicide in huge numbers because of debt, Monsanto sells Bt-cotton seed at 1000% higher than normal seeds. [See extracts of article here.] The seeds come with a contract that must be signed, preventing farmers from collecting seeds off their own land at the end of the season - an historic rupture of humankind's free access to natural growth.
As astounding a move as that is, they are doing more. They are actively and aggressively and thoroughly removing access to normal "open pollinated" seeds, the ones we have known since the beginning of time, that farmers have collected and saved and shared among each other.
In the Midwest, where Monsanto sells GE-corn and GE-soy, it also bought up the "normal seed" companies so farmers no longer have places to go for normal corn or soy.
And though GE-corn cross pollinates with normal corn over miles and miles - so maintaining organic corn is nearly impossible now - if its GE-crop is found on a farmer's land, Monsanto sues.
Monsanto is now working to eliminate the last man standing between humans and corporate privatized seeds - the seed cleaner.
The farmers have had three choices - to buy normal seed (now almost gone), to buy GE-seeds at huge cost (and going up); or to collect their own seeds and use them the next season.
If a farmer has even 10 acres, collecting and cleaning those seeds is a huge task. If he has 1000, it would be an impossible task without the seed cleaner whose equipment can separate out seed in just a few hours and whose costs are 1/3 that of buying normal seed. The seed cleaner is the man who makes sustainable agriculture possible.
Monsanto is picking off seed cleaners now across the Midwest, in Missouri, in Indiana, and now in Illinois, where they are going after Steve Hixon.
Shortly after someone broke into Mr. Hixon's office and he found his account book on his truck seat where he would never have left it, every one of his remotely located and very scattered customers had three men arrive at each farm, going out onto it without permission, and serving close to 200 farmers.
Mr. Hixon, and state police who were called in, believe a GPS tracking device may have been put on Mr. Hixon's equipment. All of his customers are being sued and are being intensely pressured to settle, with the men coming back again and again and with daily calls and letters. It appears they are [asked to choose] between being sued or settling out of court or testifying against him that he encouraged them to clean GE-seeds.
The first words out of the judge's mouth when Moe Parr, a seed cleaner in Indiana was sued, were "It's a honor to have a fine company like Monsanto in my courtroom."
Monsanto is working closely with the FDA in redefining seeds as a potential health hazard, subject to bioterrorism, and under that rubric to create rules for importation (controlling access).