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PANUPS: Monsanto Seed



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P A N U P S
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Pesticide Action Network
North America
Updates Service
http://www.panna.org/panna/
email panna@panna.org
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December 14, 1998

Monsanto Prosecutes U.S. Seed Violators

Monsanto is tracking down U.S. farmers who are replanting seed
from Monsanto's genetically engineered crops. In the company's own
words, "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 five full-time investigators to follow up on seed saving
leads that it receives. To date, Monsanto has at least 475 cases
in the U.S., generated from over 1,800 leads. More than 250 of
these cases are under investigation in at least 20 states.
Monsanto maintains that seed saving is illegal even if a farmer
did not sign an order or invoice statement for the seed at time of
purchase.

In one case, an Illinois farmer admitted saving and replanting
Roundup Ready soybeans and also acknowledged that he traded the
seed with neighbors and a local seed cleaner in return for other
goods. The farmer's settlement with Monsanto included a US$35,000
fine plus full documentation confirming disposal of his soybean
crop. In addition, the farmer and all other parties involved must
allow Monsanto to inspect their soybean production records and
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.

Other cases include:
-- A Kentucky grower who was fined US$25,000 for illegally saving
seed;
-- An Iowa farmer who paid US$16,000 for seed saving; and
-- Two Illinois farmers who settled with Monsanto for US$15,000
and US$10,000.
Each of these growers will also undergo on-site farm and record
inspections for at least five years.

No one knows exactly how many farmers in industrialized countries
save seed from their harvest each year. By some estimates, 20% to
30% of all soybean fields in the U.S. midwest were typically
planted with farmer-saved seed, a practice now threatened by
Monsanto.

Monsanto adds a US$6.50 "technology" fee to each 50 pound bag of
Roundup Ready soybean seed, which is enough to plant just under
one acre. Monsanto introduced Roundup Ready soybean seed three
years ago, and by next year, analysts estimate that at least half
of the 70 million acres of soybeans grown in the U.S. will be
Roundup Ready. Based on these figures, Monsanto will collect
approximately US$200 million in technology fees alone on the seed
next year.

Worldwide plantings of Monsanto's genetically engineered crops
more than doubled this year to approximately 55 million acres (22
million hectares). In 1997, some 23 million acres were planted,
and in 1996 Monsanto's transgenic crops were grown on only three
million acres. In 1998, the vast majority of these crops were
grown in the U.S. -- primarily Roundup Ready soybeans (25 million
acres) and YieldGard maize* (11 million acres).

*"Roundup Ready" crops are engineered to withstand application of
Monsanto's Roundup herbicide (glyphosate). Bollgard cotton and
YieldGard maize are engineered to contain an insecticidal toxin
gene from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), which is used as a
biological pesticide.
Sources: "Monsanto Releases Seed Piracy Case Settlement Details,"
Monsanto press release, September 29, 1998; "Monsanto Tracks Down
Seed Violators," Evansville Courier, October 28, 1998; "Terminator
Technology Prevents Farmers from Saving Seed," Global Pesticide
Campaigner, June 1998; Agrow: World Crop Protection News, November
27, 1998.
Contact: PANNA.

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Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA)
49 Powell St., Suite 500, San Francisco, California 94102
Phone (415) 981-1771
Fax (415) 981-1991
Email: panna@panna.org
web site www.panna.org/panna/

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