Once upon
a time (okay, to be specific, it was 1999), a Mississippi soybean farmer
named Holan McFarling purchased genetically engineered soybean seeds from
the Monsanto Corporation to grow his crops. When making the purchase,
the farmer signed a complex agreement with the corporation (as all GE
farmers are forced to do), stating that he would not save seed from that
year’s harvest, but instead would pay the corporation again the next year
for more seed. Due to the lack of foreign interest in GE soybeans, prices
fell dramatically that year, and farmers lost money. Financially broke,
McFarling secretly saved seed from his harvest so that he could afford
growing crops again. The corporation discovered what the farmer had done
and brought him to court.
Here comes the shocker: The small print in the agreement between
the farmer and the corporation stated that if the farmer breaches the
contract, he owes 120 times the actual cost of the seeds to the Monsanto
Corporation. As a result, in 2002 the multi billion dollar Monsanto Corporation
successfully sued small family farmer McFarling for $780,000.
Happy Ending: Last week, a Federal appeals court ruled that Monsanto’s
demands for financial reparations from McFarling are far too excessive.
A revised fine has not yet been set.
No So Happy Ending: In a similar case in Tennessee, Monsanto put cotton
farmer (Kem Ralph) in prison for eight months for saving seeds (farmers
have done this for thousands of years all over the world). In addition
to the prison sentence, the small family farmer is being forced to pay
$1.7 million in damages to Monsanto, despite the fact that the seeds in
question actually cost a tiny fraction of that.
Moral of the Story: Join OCA’s "Millions Against Monsanto"
campaign – /old_articles/monlink.html