Monsanto threatening farmers with jail? YOUR HELP NEEDED (8/6/2004)

1.Monsanto threatening farmers with jail? YOUR HELP IS NEEDED - please spread the word
2.Another ground-breaking lawsuit beginning in Saskatchewan

1.Monsanto threatening farmers with jail?
YOUR HELP IS NEEDED - please spread the word

Below is a press release which, in the context of promoting organic ag, draws attention to another Canadian law case that threatens the bioteh industry's monopolisation of the food chain.

Monsanto, it's reported, is certainly not hanging about in seeking to capitalise on the recent Canadian decision on the Schmeisser case. While we are focused on whether the Parliament of Canada will wake up to the staggering legal implications of this decision, Monsanto is said to have moved aggressively to globalise the benefits of the decision they managed to expensively wring out of 5 of the 9 judges of the Canadian Supreme Court.

We've been hearing from the BIO-devastation gathering in San Franciso that a page-size ad has been doing the rounds which is said to have been placed by Monsanto in Chiapas, Mexico. It is said this ad was repeatedly run in local newspapers in Chiapas directly in the wake of the Canadian decision.

The ad is addressed to "Amigo Agricultor" (Dear Farmer Friend). In the accompanying message Monsanto reminds its friends, the farmers, that planting its seeds (or seeds carrying its patented genes) without its permission is a federal crime under the law of Mexico, and - they apparently say - can  be punished by nine years in jail!

Assuming this information to be correct, we would very much like to know just how widespread this campaign is. If you are in an agricultural area, anywhere in the world, and are aware of anything similar having appeared in the local press, we would be very interested to hear from you.

Organic Foods Offer an Alternative to Genetic Engineering
Attention Business Editors:

GREENFIELD, MA, June 7 /CNW/ - The results of another ground-breaking lawsuit beginning in Saskatchewan may have far-reaching effects on the future food choices available to Canadian consumers and shoppers worldwide. The clash is over the rights of farmers to produce crops organically and the ever-growing spread of biotechnology in agriculture.

Saskatchewan's certified organic farmers, led by the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate, are seeking class action status in a suit to hold companies that created genetically engineered (GE) seed legally liable for the damage caused to organic farmers by the introduction of GE canola. This case, initiated January 10, 2002, follows the recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling on Monsanto vs. Schmeiser, which effectively offered the agrochemical biotech company patent protection and ownership of whole plants, not just the genetically engineered and patented genes inserted into the plant or the engineering process.

Along with questions of liability for the unwanted and uncontrolled spread of GE canola plants, there are a number of concerns about how the use of GE plants affects the environment. Triple-resistant canola weeds have been found on Western Canadian farms such as one in northern Alberta. This resulted from inadvertent crossing of three different canola systems genetically engineered for the herbicides Roundup (glyphosate), Liberty (glufosinate-ammonium), and Pursuit (imazethapyr). Pollination via bees and wind between two fields was blamed for the occurrence in Alberta.

A scientific study by a University of Bordeaux professor has found that sediment in the Richelieu River, a tributary of the St. Lawrence River surrounded by fields of genetically engineered Bt corn, contains concentrations of Bt that are five times higher than in nearby agricultural watersheds.

In his 2004 book, The David Suzuki Reader, David Suzuki wrote, "There is absolutely no reason to suppose that biologists know enough to anticipate the ecological and health ramifications of a revolutionary technology such as genetic engineering."

For shoppers who want to avoid GE foods, organic products offer an alternative.

"When you choose organic products, you support farmers who grow crops and raise animals without the use of genetically engineered seeds or growth hormones," said Katherine DiMatteo, executive director of the Organic Trade Association, which represents the organic industry throughout Canada and the United States. "Each purchase of organic products sends a message that you want your foods produced without genetic engineering."

Although there is no requirement to label products made with genetically engineered seeds or growth hormones, one easy way to avoid genetically engineered food products is to choose organic products. Organic farmers are prohibited from using genetically engineered seeds or growth hormones.

Learn more at http://www.ota.com/organic.html. The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the business association representing the organic agriculture industry in North America. Its over 1,400 members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers' associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others.

For further information: Stephanie Wells, (613) 263-0575, or Holly Givens, (413) 774-7511, ext. 18 both of The Organic Trade Association; Web site: http://www.ota.com

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