GENTECH archive


Monsanto hunts down "seed pirates" (fwd)

[forward from Eric D Nash <> to sanet:]

Most Esteemed Sanetites,

Submitted for your edification, amusement, and/or disgust is the
following tale of capital tightening it's vice-like grip on the
earth's family jewls:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 09 Nov 1998 09:30:20 +0000
From: Brian Tokar <>
Subject: GE - Monsanto hunts "seed pirates"

We have obtained a copy of a Monsanto press release, sent to agricultural
extension agents and other state officials in the U.S., outlining the
company's efforts to crack down on growers who allegedly violate the terms
of its contracts.

The document is below reproduced in full.› The details speak for
themselves, and the statement's tone speaks volumes about Monsanto's
long-range plans to make seed saving a crime.

Note that the abbreviation "Ill." refers to the state of Illinois, "Ky." is

Brian Tokar
Institute for Social Ecology
Plainfield, Vermont, USA

Edmonds Institute
Edmonds, Washington, USA

 M O N S A N T O
 Food - Health - Hope

 PHONE (314) 694-1000

Release Immediately
Karen K. Marshall, (314-694-2882)
Jennifer O'Brien (1-800-666-1765)


ST. LOUIS (September 29) - In response to numerous requests from farmers
wanting to know details regarding those offenders caught illegally saving
and replanting seed containing patented technology, Monsanto Company today
announced the specifics of one of its seed piracy case settlements.

Following a recent seed piracy investigation, David Chaney of Reed, Ky.,
admitted to illegally saving and replanting Roundup Ready∆ soybeans. Chaney
also acknowledged that in return for other goods, he illegally traded the
pirated seed with neighbors and an area seed cleaner for the purpose of
replanting. All of those involved were implicated when Monsanto made the

Chaney's settlement agreement terms include a $35,000 royalty payment as
well as full documentation confirming the disposal of his unlawful soybean
crop. Chaney, as well as the others involved, will make available all of
their soybean production records, including Farm Service Agency/ASCS
records, for Monsanto's inspection over the next five years. All of those
involved also will provide full access to all of their property, both owned
and leased, for inspections, collection and testing of soybean plants and
seed for the next five years.

Farmers in other states who unlawfully saved and replanted Monsanto's
patented seed also have discovered the company's stringent policy on seed
piracy. Other examples of monetary royalty terms include:

 * A McCracken County, Ky., grower will pay $25,000 for illegally
pirating seed.

 * A Ringgold County, Iowa, farmer paid a $16,000 royalty for his
unlawful actions.

 * A father and son from Edwards County, Ill., settled with the
company for $15,000.

 * An Ill. farmer from Christian County, will pay $10,000 for his
illegal actions.

Although royalty terms vary by case, all of these growers will undergo
onsite farm and record inspections for at least five years. Other actions
taken in 1998 include crop destruction and confiscation of seed. In each of
these cases, the royalty payment far exceeded any cost savings the farmer
could have gained from saving and replanting pirated seed.


Backed by U.S. patent law, Monsanto is vigorously pursuing growers who
pirate any brand or variety of its genetically enhanced seed, such as
Roundup Ready soybeans and cotton and Bollgard∆ cotton. The company has
hired full-time investigators to follow up on all seed piracy leads it
receives. To date, Monsanto has more than 475 seed piracy cases nationwide,
generated from over 1,800 leads. Currently, more than 250 of these cases
are under investigation in states including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida,
Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota,
Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South
Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.

Scott Baucum, Monsanto's intellectual property protection manager, says the
vast majority of growers are honest businesspeople who do not pirate
patented biotech seed. "We are committed to maintaining a level playing
field for all growers," he says. Baucum also emphasizes the fact that seed
piracy is illegal even if a farmer did not sign an order/invoice statement
for the seed at the time of purchase. "For example, in David Chaney's case
neither of these items was signed, but Chaney's actions were unlawful

Baucum says that when farmers illegally pirate patented biotech seed,
everyone loses. "Monsanto invests many years and millions of dollars in
biotechnology research to bring growers new technologies sooner rather than
later," he says. "When growers save and replant patented seed, there is
less incentive for companies to invest in future technologies that will
ultimately benefit farmers." These technologies include seed that produce
higher-yielding crops, drought-tolerant crops, crops that are protected
against corn rootworm damage, cyst-nematode protected soybeans and crops
with improved high value components, such as modified oil or bran.

Growers can talk with their ag chem retailer, seed dealer or Monsanto local
market manager for additional information regarding seed piracy. Or they
can call Monsanto directly by phoning 1-800-523-2333 in the South or
1-800-ROUNDUP in all other areas.
 # # #
Roundup Ready∆ and Bollgard∆ are registered trademarks of Monsanto Company.

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