The Monopoly Called Monsanto
Roger Nelson grew up on a farm and went out on his own to begin renting farmland in 1961. He and his family have continued their farming and had a reputation in their community of meticulous and ethical farming practices throughout the years. Their reputation, however, is now being tarnished as Monsanto (the world’s leading producer of the herbicide Roundup Ready and owner to most of the food seed companies around the world) is accusing the Nelsons of being thieves of their genetically modified soybeans. The Nelsons are among the hundreds of farmers Monsanto is suing, usually on the grounds of patent infringement. However, growers have begun to fight back in the courts, as they say Monsanto has no evidence of this claim.
About 9 out of 10 soybean seeds carry the Roundup Ready trait, as does cotton and corn. Monsanto sells 90% of the world genetically engineered (GE) seeds and exclusively produces Roundup Ready soybean seed for the commercial market. This monopoly over the seed market has become quite controversial as no seed company could survive without selling Roundup Ready seeds. Monsanto has designed a system that literally traps farmers to continue using their product, Roundup Ready, as it is illegal to save patented seeds and the product is already well ingrained (so to speak) in their crop. This means, that every year the farmers must purchase all new seeds from the company, despite the fact that they have perfectly good seeds left over from their precious crop. With such a monopoly, the company can increase its prices, as they like. Just last year, alone, the cost of these seeds went up 50 percent!
Some farmers’ crops become contaminated with this patented gene without their own knowledge or doing from the birds or wind carrying the seeds. Wind can carry seeds to other farms where there are no GMO seeds in circulation and they start to grow and spread right under their noses! When Monsanto finds out, they often start an investigation and the farmer’s have to prove that they are not violating Monsanto’s patent. So Monsanto have become the bullies of the neighborhood. For farmers, like the Nelsons, this cycle can be very harmful because the farmers cannot risk the litigation that would follow if they were to replant the seeds. Every year, no matter the price, these farmers must continue to feed into Monsanto’s trap.