Activists Oppose FrankenBeets

The pro-organic crops advocacy groups, EarthJustice and the Center for Food Safety are sending around a press release (couldn't find it online yet) in which they announce that

...today that they filed court papers seeking a ban on genetically engineered (GE) sugar beets and sugar beet seeds. The motion was filed in Federal Court on behalf of a coalition of organic seed growers, conservation and food safety groups.  It calls for a moratorium to be set in place on all planting, production and use of the seeds and beets until a federal district court can consider further how to remedy the government’s unlawful deregulation of the crop.

The beets in question are enhanced with a gene that resists a herbicide enabling farmers to control weeds without extra plowing which saves top soil and fuel. The particular herbicide is glyphosate (Roundup) which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notes:

EPA's worst case risk assessment of glyphosate's many registered food uses concludes that human dietary exposure and risk are minimal...

Based on current data, EPA has determined that the effects of glyphosate on birds, mammals, fish and invertebrates are minimal...

The use of currently registered pesticide products containing the isopropylamine and sodium salts of glyphosate in accordance with the labeling specified in this RED [Registration Eligibility Decision] will not pose unreasonable risks or adverse effects to humans or the environment.

So why do the activists and organic growers want to ban the beets? According to the press release:

The coalition filed the lawsuit charging that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) approved the “Roundup Ready” sugar beets without properly assessing potential environmental and socioeconomic impacts. These impacts include the possibility of genetic contamination of organic and conventional crops, increased weed resistance to Roundup herbicide, limiting of farmers’ options to grow conventional and organic beets, and loss of consumer choice to buy products with sugar not derived from GE beets. 

First, let's deal with increased weed resistance to glyphosate. The environmental impact of developing herbicide resistant weeds is well-known. Consequently farmers already adopt and use methods to manage this problem. But what about "genetic contamination?" University of Oklahoma law professor Drew Kershen has been thinking about these alleged liability issues for some time. Kershen has created a handy FAQ where he concludes:

Question 3: What about legal liability to organic farming and about contracts that call for “GMO free” production?

Answer: To the best of the author’s knowledge, as of April 2009, not a single organic farmer has lost certification for his or her farm or its organic products due to the low-level presence of transgenic material on the farm or in the product. The reason for this is simple — unintentional, low-level presence of transgenic material does not constitute a violation of an organic producer’s organic production plan.

In comments accompanying the National Organic Program Final Rules (2000), the USDA wrote:

“When we are considering drift issues, it is particularly important to remember that organic standards are process based. Certifying agents attest to the ability of organic operations to follow a set of production standards and practices that meet the requirements of the Act and the regulations. This regulation prohibits the use of excluded methods in organic operations. The presence of detectable residue of a product of excluded methods alone does not necessarily constitute a violation of this regulation. As long as an organic operation has not used excluded methods and takes reasonable steps to avoid contact with the products of excluded methods as detailed in their approved organic system plan, the unintentional presence of the products of excluded method should not affect the status of an organic product or operation” NOP Final Rule, http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop/NOP/standards/FullText.pdf at p. 34.

With regard to contracts that call for “GMO free” production, farmers who voluntarily sign contracts containing a “GMO free” clause must make a decision as to whether they can meet that production specification and whether the premium paid for that specification is sufficient to cover the farmer’s additional costs in producing a “GMO free” product. In the United States and Canada, the legal rule is that the person who voluntarily signs a contract to meet certain specifications is the person who has the legal obligation to bear the costs to satisfy that contract specification. This legal rule that the person seeking to gain a premium bears the costs and the contractual risks of the contract specification is a widespread legal rule, though it is now being modified in some European countries in light of the controversies about transgenic crops.

In other words, organic farmers who hope to charge more for their crops should bear the costs of meeting their own standards. Conversely, organic farmers should not be allowed to impose the costs of their standards on others, e.g., consumers and non-organic farmers. (Of course, they always could change their standards to something more reasonable.)

On the question of damages, Kershen's FAQ notes:

Question 6: What are the types of damages that a plaintiff may recover in an agricultural biotechnology lawsuit?

Answer: In a lawsuit, plaintiffs allege claims about harms suffered and seek recovery of damages caused by those harms proven. Damages compensate for the actual physical loss or injury that the plaintiff proves occurred due to the defendant’s conduct in light of the plaintiff’s legal claims. Damages are recoverable for physical loss or injury to person or property proven by the plaintiff.

As a general rule, however, plaintiffs are not entitled to damages for lost opportunities unrelated to physical loss or injury. Examples are if plaintiff seeks damages because the plaintiff lost access to an export market, or plaintiff has a crop rejected by a market based on consumer concerns or preferences, or plaintiff no longer has a market to grow a particular crop. Claims of the types just enumerated are called “pure economic loss.” Courts in the United States and Canada, except in limited circumstances, do not allow plaintiffs to recover for “pure economic loss.” ....

In my column, "Organic Law," Kershen

... offers an example in which a tattoo parlor legally opens between a florist and a Christian bookstore, advertising a special on satanic tattoos. Customers offended by the tattoo shop begin avoiding the florist and bookstore. Under American common law, the florist and the bookstore do not have a cause of action, because "economic expectation is not recoverable." (Of course, [economist Ronald] Coase would say the bookshop and florist might want to buy the tattoo owner out.) Similarly, an organic farmer who expected to sell his crop at a premium would nevertheless be able to sell it at market rates as a conventional crop; he loses only the premium he expected to gain.

As it happens, the folks at the Center for Food Safety had already prevailed in a federal lawsuit against genetically enhanced alfalfa. That case was just picked up for review by the U.S. Supreme Court. Let's hope that the high court puts an end to this nonsense soon.

Disclosure: I sold my Monsanto stock a long time ago. I don't recall how much I sold my shares for, but it certainly was for a lot less than $80. Damn.

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  • TickleStick||

    You get paid by the word?

  • Ecolibertarian||

    "Based on current data, EPA has determined that the effects of glyphosate on birds, mammals, fish and invertebrates are minimal..."

    However, the harmful effects of Round-up's surfactant on amphibians are serious and well-documented. Given that many amphibian species are facing extinction due to chytridiomycosis, we shouldn't be encouraging the use of additional stressors.

    http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/22159.php

    http://www.jstor.org/stable/4543422

  • ||

    there's an opportunity here for someone to develop roundup-ready frogs

  • ||

    It's science's number one priority right now. We won't rest until "the harmful effects of Round-up's surfactant on amphibians" are no more!

  • jasno||

    Corrected that for you...


    It's science's number one priority right now. We won't rest until "the harmful effects of Round-up's surfactant on amphibians" are no more!
  • Ecolibertarian||

    No money in it.

  • ||

    Oh come on ... everyone likes frog's legs.

  • jasno||

    I'd be curious to know how Round-Up is treated in the context of a story on Plan Columbia vs. a story on GMO foods.

  • ||

    I've read a bit about roundup/glyphosate, and it's pretty inert. The only way it's dangerous to amphibians is if you pour it directly in a pond or stream. It's metabolized by bacteria in the soil in 60 days max, so there's little danger of massive amounts of runoff

  • ||

    If Roundup is really driving amphibians into extinctions, why hasn't it been banned? More importantly, why focus on the GM beets, and not the Roundup itself?

  • rallyround||

    Hazel. the answer to this is quite simple. CropLife and other companies who produce these chemical have the US congressmen and senators by the short and curlies. Average US citizen is naive and bow their heads as their country gets destryed by these corporate sycophants.

  • ed||

    EarthJustice

    Hahahahaha....sigh.

  • Justice for Earth||

    We hate those guys at EarthJustice!

  • Front for Earth Justice||

    Splitter!

  • Justice for Earth's Front||

    I thought we were Earth Justice??

  • Council For Justice On Earth®||

    Expect a call from our lawyers, EJ scum.

  • Old Mexican||

    In my column, "Organic Law," Kershen

    ... offers an example in which a tattoo parlor legally opens between a florist and a Christian bookstore, advertising a special on satanic tattoos. Customers offended by the tattoo shop begin avoiding the florist and bookstore. Under American common law, the florist and the bookstore do not have a cause of action, because "economic expectation is not recoverable." (Of course, [economist Ronald] Coase would say the bookshop and florist might want to buy the tattoo owner out.)

    Never fear, economics illiteracy and cluelessness is here to save the day: That is exactly what the concept of "Externality" was invented - to invent liabilities that don't really exist!

  • ||

    OM: My Organic Law column does also discuss in more detail the Coase theorem.

  • Old Mexican||

    Ron,

    Understood, the Coase solution posited made perfect sense to me. However, the problem is with the slippery concept of Externality, which can be defined as "Anything I happen not to like."

    This is why I am saying "Never fear, Statist economists [i.e. the illiterate in economics] and other justifiers for State coercion will agrue from purported externalities to bamboozle a jury into giving compensation to someone that has not suffered any aggression or had their property taken."

    The concept of extrenality has become one of the most insidious attacks on private property rights ever devised by the intellectually dishonest.

  • Raven||

    I took Kershen's ag law class a few years ago at OU. Quoting him at length brings back bad memories...:)

  • ||

    Are these Al Frankenbeets?

  • jester||

    Damn! You frankly beat me to the pun.

  • Jersey Patriot||

    3 things:

    1. The dose makes the poison. RoundUp in quantities used before may be fine, but how much more will be used? And what effect will that have?

    2. The entire sugar beet industry in America is a creation of government subsidy and sugar import quotas. Abolish the subsidies and import quotas, and cheap sugarcane imports will make this question moot.

    3. Agribusiness and GMO are arms of the state: state-financed, state-charted, and state-backed. A free market disclaimer in the middle of an agribusiness defense is a joke.

  • ||

    Jersey Patriot:

    (2) To the extent that sugar beet industry is creation of government (and it mostly is) I'm against it. One hope is that the more productive sugar beets and faster ag subsidies rise, the sooner those subsidies will be dropped. (Hey, it worked in Europe more or less -- The EU stopped paying farmers for being productive and instead gave them stipends to garden the countryside for urban folks enjoyment as they drive by.)

    (3) Not sure what you mean here. Must we boycott the internet because some minor DARPA subsidies were involved with its beginnings? Or websites because the software for them was developed by CERN?

  • Jersey Patriot||

    2. That seems a mighty fine stretch to hope for.

    3. No one said "boycott". But that's not the point. The point is that you invoked the majesty of the free market to attack organic farmers, failing entirely to note that their competition is essentially an arm of the state. You do this every time agritech comes up, which seriously damages the credibility of your free-market argument. Capitalism for organic farmers, socialism for agribusiness?

  • ||

    JP
    Let's not forget that the organic folks begged the Feds to create more than 500 pages of regulations as way segregate their markets. Could have gone the kosher/ halal route, but they wanted government help.

  • Jersey Patriot||

    And they certainly should go the kosher route.

    Of course, if unfair regulations and subsidies to your competitors are making it tough to do your business, it stands to reason you're going to ask for the same sort of help agribusiness gets. Sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander. Deploying the free market arguments against one and not the other is the shitty part of your argument. Ironically, organic farming can exist without the state, but agribusiness cannot.

    (In addition, people think you're a shill because of arguments like this, not your stock portfolio.)

  • ||

    Jersey Patriot: We should probably let this rest, but where did you get the impression that organic producers were not "agribusiness"? E.g., Coca Cola owns Odwalla; Celestial Seasonings by HJ Heinz; Cascadian Farms by General Mills; Nantucket Nectars by Cadbury Schweppes and so forth. Go here for a corporate organic list.

  • ||

    "Agribusiness" most certainly would continue to exist without subsidies. The indusrialization of agriculture started before the Great Depression, while the subsidies were introduced, if anything, to save "small family farmers". The kind of people profiled in "The Grapes of Wrath".

    If you eliminated all farm subsidies, the market would certainly shift to different algricultural commodities in different amounts, but there is zero reason to believe that large agricultural corporations would cease to exist.

  • Old Mexican||

    The EU stopped paying farmers for being productive and instead gave them stipends to garden the countryside for urban folks enjoyment as they drive by.)

    Woult the government give the passer-by a discount on their taxes if he puts shades on his car?

    See, I am beginning to like this "externality" shit!

  • ||

    OM, Jersey Patriot-

    Its called interference with contractual relations. The elements are:

    (1) A has a contract with B
    (2) C knows of this contract
    (3) C, without justification, interfers with A's contract with B
    (4) A is damaged thereby.

    Of course, Ron might argue that an agribusiness that employs GM seeds/herbicides, would be legally justified in their production processes as GM materials are not illegal.

    However, if the agribusiness is getting subsidies, the rent-seeking, in and of itself, constitutes the smoking gun of lack of justification.

  • ||

    tortious interference with contract (its proper name) required that the defendant actually commit a tort, that is, engage in some wrongful act, that has the effect of interfering with a contract.

    Merely interfering with a contract is not inherently illegal. Hell, if it was, competition would be illegal.

  • Jersey Patriot||

    Torts is not my specialty, but I think spraying a Monsanto-sized load of herbicide onto your crops, which then runs off your land onto your neighbor's, could count. You don't need to show much damages to, in turn, get to tortious interference. In theory, if the herbicide hits your land/water and causes $1 of damage, you've got your tort for the purposes of interference (which could be much bigger damages).

  • ||

    When your activities begin to physically damage your neighbor's land, he has a claim of some kind.

    Merely growing crops of which your neighbor disapproves, not so much.

  • ||

    That is not the fact pattern in question. If it were, agreed.

  • ||

    There are actually law review articles on the name of the tort. Some call it Tortious Interference with contractual relations. Others call it Tortious interference with Advantageous Contractual Relations. Still others label it Tortious interference with Prospective Contractual Relations.

    I know that one might argue that Tortious interference with Contractual Relations is not the same as Tortious Interference with Prospective Contractual Relations, but there are many who argue that they are one in the same tort.

  • ||

    Ron-

    The analogy you employ in your response to Jersey Patriot's 3rd point is inapposite. DARPA's initial subsidies are not the same thing as the on-going, systematic subsidies given to agribusiness.

    Another difference is Jersey's use of the internet does not, in and of itself, interfer with Monsanto's property rights whereas Monsanto's use of GM crops, herbicides, etc. may very well interfer with an organic farmer's property rights.

  • ||

    Help me out, here, LM.

    How does a farmer growing crops on his land interfere with a neighboring farmer's property rights? Exactly what property right does the organic farmer have that is denied by his neighbor also farming?

  • ||

    RC-

    Look at it from the contract interference perspective.

    If one farmer, the agribusiness, uses GM seeds and herbicides with the knowledge that their use will contaminate his neigbor's organic crop and the agribusiness farmer knows that his neighbor has a contract to produce GM free crops, the agribusiness farmer has interfered with his neighbor's contract.

    I know that you know that the interference must be unjustified in order to prevail on the claim.

    Assuming that the agribusiness farmer is a rent seeking beneficiary, I submit that the subsidy itself can form the predicate lack of justification.

    I know that your affinity for legal positivism might be an obstacle for you in that the legislature has said it is okay to rob peter to pay paul and if paul's farming methods pollute Mary's farm too bad.

    I would argue that no person has the right to get a subsidy and use the same to pollute another's property and yet be immunized. Such a proposition violates the natural rights of the organic farmner to be able to produce orgainc crops without the same being contaminated by a subsidized producer of GM crops.

    Of course, I do not buy Ron's bullshit that the use of GM seeds/herbicides/ingredients are harmless, etc.

    Moreover, its basic tort analysis. Farmer A uses shit that pollutes Farmer B's products. Farmer A should be held accountable for his actions.

  • ||

    LM: You write: Of course, I do not buy Ron's bullshit that the use of GM seeds/herbicides/ingredients are harmless, etc.

    Bullshit? Really? Although written in a different context, I will direct anyone who's been reading your comments to my column "A Tale of Two Scientific Consensuses" where they can check various links to scientific studies confirming the health and environmental safety of current biotech crops. Just to make it easy for readers, I will quote from the column below:

    The scientific consensus about current varieties of genetically improved crops stands in stark contrast to these dire environmentalist assertions.

    As evidence, consider a recent report issued by the International Council for Science (ICSU). The ICSU is an organization whose membership consists of 111 national academies of science and 29 scientific unions. In 2005, the ICSU issued a report based on a comprehensive analysis of 50-science based reviews of genetically modified crops. The ICSU concluded: "Currently available genetically modified foods are safe to eat." Some environmentalist critics claim that genes from genetically modified crops will "contaminate" the natural environment and conventional crops. The ICSU found, "there is no evidence of any deleterious environmental effects having occurred from the trait/species combinations currently available." The World Health Organization agrees that current varieties of GM foods "are not likely to present risks for human health. In addition, no effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of such foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved."

    A 2003 position paper by the Society of Toxicology found, "The level of safety of current BD [biotechnology-derived] foods to consumers appears to be equivalent to that of traditional foods." In 2002, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reviewed the scientific literature and sought expert advice about the safety of genetically modified foods. The GAO concluded, "Biotechnology experts believe that the current regimen of tests has been adequate for ensuring that GM (genetically modified) foods marketed to consumers are as safe as conventional foods." The experts with whom the GAO consulted also pointed out "there is no scientific evidence that GM foods cause long-term harm, such as increased cancer rates," and that "there is no plausible hypothesis of harm." GM foods might have adverse effects if they produced harmful proteins that that remained stable during digestion. However, the GAO noted that the proteins produced through genetic enhancement are in fact rapidly digested.

    In 2000 the report Transgenic Plants and World Agriculture, issued under the auspices of seven national academies of science, including U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the British Royal Academy, found that "no human health problems associated specifically with the ingestion of transgenic crops or their products have been identified." Also in 2000, a American Medical Association report noted, "Worldwide, many people are eating GM foods with no overt adverse effects on human health reported in the peer-reviewed scientific literature and according to regulatory agencies."

    Almost all of the previously analyses cited do suggest that more stringent regulations might be necessary if future genetic modifications significantly change the nutrition of foods. But here are a couple of rules of thumb for reasonable regulation of genetically improved crops. If a regulatory system would cover a specific trait were it in a conventionally bred crop, then it should also regulate that same trait in a GM crop. If not, then it should not be regulated in a GM crop either. Secondly, once a trait has been approved, it should be approved for all varieties and all crops. There is no need to make a trait that already been scientifically determined to be safe go through the regulatory system again and again and again.

    In any case, the overwhelming scientific consensus is that current varieties of genetically enhanced crops are safe to eat and don't pose unusual risks to the natural environment. But that isn't stopping Greenpeace from waging a global "Say no to genetic engineering" campaign or the Friends of the Earth from demanding a GM Freeze. Perhaps the idea of scientific consensus is not all that it's cracked up to be. After all, scientific consensus does not mean "certain truth." Whatever the current consensus of any scientific issue is can change in the light of new research. Nevertheless, environmentalist ideologues accuse those who question the climate change consensus of bad faith and worse. But aren't they exhibiting a similar bad faith when they reject the broad scientific consensus on genetically modified crops?

  • ||

    Ron is correct.

    American Society of Plant Biologists:
    http://www.aspb.org/publicaffa.....tement.cfm

    American Society for Microbiology
    http://www.asm.org/?option=com.....mp;id=3598

  • ||

    American Society for Cell Biology
    http://www.ascb.org/index.php?.....;Itemid=31

  • ||

    No, you are both wrong.

    "I have seen first hand how Monsato and the FDA resprted to scientific deceit of the highest order to market genetically engineered milk."

    Samuel S. Epstein, M.D., Professor Emeritus, Environmental and Occupational Medicine
    University of Illinois, at
    Chicago School of Public Health

  • ||

    LM: I don't remember who said it (probably a Monsanto or pharmaceutical company shill), but here goes:
    "Samuel Epstein could find cancer in a stone."

    Glad to see that you are rejecting the scientific "consensus" that genetically enhanced crops are safe in favor of an activist scientist's bald assertion. Very convincing.

  • ||

    How about Jeff Smith's Seeds of Deception? Is he another "crank" or "nutcase" you cn dismiss without discussing the merits of his work?

  • ||

    I suppose Dr. Irina Emakova's work is not part of the scientific "consensus" either.

    As you may know, on October 10, 2005, at a symposium organized by the national Association of Genetic security, Dr. Emakova disclosed the results of her research ragrding genetically modified soy. The results:

    Over half the rats born to mothers who ate GM-soy were dead within three weeks whereas rats whose mothers ate normal soy had a mortality rate of 9%.

    Dr. Emakova's work was conducted at the Institute of Higher Nervous Activity and Neurophsiology of the Russian Academy of Science.

  • ||

    What do you think represents the "consensus" better?

    A) statements released by professional societies representing tens of thousands of researchers, and international scientific organizations representing hundreds of national and regional scientific associations with themselves hundreds and thousands of members, on the basis of dozens of studies.

    Or
    B) Statetements by a few isolated individual scientists based on hypothetical premises and anecdotal evidence

  • ||

    Sounds like the same specious global warming "arguments' warmed over.

  • Ted S.||

    How does a farmer growing crops on his land interfere with a neighboring farmer's property rights?

    Didn't the Supreme Court decide this in Wickard v. Filburn? :-(

  • Ska||

    Activists Oppose FrankenBeets, guitarists oppose Boo Berr-riffs.

    Count Chocula remains undecided.

  • T||

    FrankenBeets was the little known precursor to the far more popular FrankenBerries. Surprisingly, a beet flavored cereal proved unpopular with children.

  • ||

    Trivia: Fruit Brute, one of the 2 original cereals of that line that went out of production, was 50% sugar by weight.

  • ||

    Will the new beets still taste like the old beets, i.e. dirt?

  • ||

    I like beets. They have a nice, earthy flavor.

  • The Gobbler||

    Have you ever been anywhere near a sugar beet processing plant? You'd swear you were living up a cow's ass.

  • ||

    I like them pickled or those little baby beets.

    Pickling is magic. For example, it can transform the hideous green cock of Satan, the cucumber, into something almost divine.

  • ||

    Amen.

  • ||

    I had some beets at a great, great restaurant in Santa Fe last month (The Compound - next time you're in Santa Fe, empty your bank account and go there).

    They were so perfectly prepared that they were like fruit. At first, I thought they were fruit of some kind.

  • ||

    Tzatziki is also an excellent use for cucumbers.

  • ||

    I pretty much detest beets, but red beet juice is good for pickling eggs. Mmmmmmm.....

  • Zeb||

    How would you know what a sugar beet tastes like?

  • STEVE SMITH||

    STEVE SMITH USE BEET AS BALL-GAG TO KEEP NUTRISOIL QUIET DURING MUCH RAPING.

  • ||

    I'm diabetic, not deathly allergic to the stuff. ;-)

  • ||

    I am allergic to sasquatch rape, however.

  • Ska||

    So the rectal tearing is compounded by rashy anal hives? You poor bastard.

  • ||

    Are you trying to get me fired? I can't stop giggling!

  • ||

    That's a long post, so I'll keep it short and say that I don't want anything that's been Germanically engineered.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    First they came for the beets, but I said nothing, because I fucking hate beets...

  • ||

    And then they came for the brussel sprouts. Naturally, i still didn't speak up.

  • ||

    When they come for the cauliflower, I'm not saying a god-damned thing.

  • ||

    But they can pry my tomatoes and chilis from my cold, dead, spicy hands.

  • ||

    Claims of the types just enumerated are called “pure economic loss.” Courts in the United States and Canada, except in limited circumstances, do not allow plaintiffs to recover for “pure economic loss.” ....

    Limited Circumstances = Reduced Album/DVD sales. *cough* RI/MPAA *cough*

  • Naga Sadow||

    Externality? Hmmmmmmmmm . . . does this mean I can sue the shit out of people for stuff I don't/didn't like?

  • Old Mexican||

    Not necessarily but you can use it to write dissertations on justifying government intervention into everything because of "externalities". That has worked for many pseudo-economists to obtain their tenures...

  • ||

    Tex-Mexternalities, of course, are an entirely different matter.

  • oaktownadam||

    Genetic contamination is a serious issue, Ronald, one that deserves more than your scorn.
    http://www.greens.org/s-r/29/29-21.html

    If the company has a patent on the genes, and they are found in your crop, you are liable. Doesn't matter how they got there. apparently.

  • ||

    oaktownadam: As I've explained before, Percy Schmeiser is no innocent. He knew exactly what he was doing and is now a convicted patent infringer. You can read the Canadian Court ruling against him here.

  • oaktownadam||

    So some seeds blew onto his land, he sprayed them with herbicide; they didn't die, so he collected the seeds they produced, and planted them the next year. In the past, that would be called "breeding". Now, it's called "infringing".

    I can understand the infringement case, if it had been Terminator (or other sterile) seeds, but how can we ethically prosecute farmers for replanting seeds of plants they find growing in their fields?

    This is a totally new paradigm, and I think it's a valid concern for farmers to have, and a valid argument against allowing GMO to be unrestricted. Farmers are not being given the choice over opening themselves up to legal liability.

    I'm not some luddite who's afraid of anything Monsanto-related. But I'm far from convinced that allowing companies to patent genes is a good idea, especially if those genes have natural origins, or have the potential to spread into nature.

  • ||

    So some seeds blew onto his land, he sprayed them with herbicide; they didn't die, so he collected the seeds they produced, and planted them the next year. In the past, that would be called "breeding". Now, it's called "infringing".

    Well, according to you, it's called "contamination", when someone deliberately plants seeds that he knows are GMO.

  • ||

    Also, you missed the part where he proceeded to spray Roundup on his "organic" crop.

    The guy was a con artist trying to grow GM crops under an organic label, while not paying the royalties on the seeds. He was trying to scam the system, oaktownadm.

  • oaktownadam||

    I don't recall reading anywhere that claimed he was growing organic crops, merely conventional ones.

    Roundup is a very widely used herbicide....so I don't agree that its use was damning evidence against him.

    For thousands of years, agricultural science has been advanced by farmers selectively breeding plants and animals with desirable traits. Until now, they didn't need to worry about how those traits got into their gene pool, they merely had to recognize them and replant (or breed) them.

    Everyone agrees that weed-resistance to Roundup has been growing. How did that happen? Did Monsanto create Roundup-Ready(tm) weeds? Or did it happen through natural evolution?

    My point is that by criminalizing the process of breeding, we're handing monopolies on agricultural advancement to biotech firms, instead of letting farmers continue the practices they have been doing since the dawn of human civilization.

  • ||

    The Roundup resistant "weeds" are actually Roundup-Ready canola. Canola (rapeseed) is a species of mustard that's often considered a weed when not grown intentionally for canola oil production.

    The genes aren't jumping magically from one species to another, they are just engineered plants escaping from fields where they are deliberately planted.

    This isn't incidentally, a unique or new phenomenon to GM crops. It happens all the time with conventionally bred plants. There are numerous examples of plants brought in as crops that have escaped into the wild. Most wild grasses are in fact escaped crop species.

  • rallyround||

    Hazel,
    The difference is that the RoundUp canola is herbicide resistant unlike natural canola and grasses.

  • rallyround||

    So if my patented dog jumps over the fence into your yard and breeds with your common bitch and you keep the pups you can be a convicted patent infringer in terms of that much criticised decision.

  • CrackertyAssCracker||

    For once I agree with the granola crunchers. Beets are disgusting.

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