Monday, February 8, 2010

Let's stop Monsanto.

I am alarmed by the spread of genetically modified (GM) foods, especially by the Monsanto company.

For the record, I am all for freedom of choice, and I look forward to the creation of more "effective" and less expensive foods.

However, anyone involved with GM foods must accept the responsibility for its spread. Monsanto aggressively protects its patents and pursues anyone who might be growing it's product, which is fine unless they and their growers are allowing it to get out into other areas they don't control. Of course it's very difficult to protect other areas, especially with large borders on the edge of your crop, but that should be one of the costs of doing business with this type of product. It is unacceptable for growers to allow this patent-protected food to bleed into other farms which a company can then pursue and charge that someone is illegally using their patent. The rest of us should be allowed to be free from that threat of contamination.

It's not just a patent issue, either: we've seen how the spread of non-native plants and animals can devastate local ecosystems. If there aren't yet any civil lawsuits regarding this, I would help to establish this kind of law.

Monsanto and its leaders are not acting ethically. They have pursued a seed cleaner named Maurice Parr, charging that it's his responsibility to make sure all his clients respect Monsanto's rules. They say in their page about seed saving, "Mr. Parr can honor the patent by informing customers it is illegal to save Roundup Ready seed and requiring his customers certify their seed is not from a patented product and providing samples for testing." It is certainly not fair or right that they can require others to enforce some company's licensing rules; even if supported by law (which should be changed, starting with patent law), Monsanto is showing that they are not a good social citizen. It sure seems that they deserve to be dead last in the ethical rankings of 581 multinational corporations.

If you care, here are a couple of ways to learn more and take action: