Percy and Louise Schmeiser took on Monsanto. Would you?
Congratulations to Canadian farmers Percy and Louise Schmeiser for receiving the Right Livelihood Award in recognition of their struggle against agro-chemical giant Monsanto. The Right Livelihood Award (“for outstanding vision and work on behalf of our planet and its people”) was awarded to the Schmeisers “for their courage in defending biodiversity and farmers’ rights, and challenging the environmental and moral perversity of current interpretations of patent laws”.
Here’s the story:
In 1998 Percy Schmeiser and his wife received a letter from the US agribusiness giant Monsanto claiming that they had used Monsanto seeds without a license in planting their 1997 crop. However, the Schmeisers had never bought Monsanto seed nor intended to have it on their land. It turned out that some Monsanto ‘Round-up Ready’ genetically modified canola (rape) seeds had blown over from the Schmeisers’ neighbour or from passing trucks. Thus, genes that Monsanto claimed to “own” under Canadian patent law had ended up in the Schmeisers’ seeds.
Monsanto threatened to sue the Schmeisers for ‘infringement of patent’, seeking damages totalling $400,000 (CAD)…
The Schmeisers took the case all the way to the Supreme Court, and then some. They’re suing Monsanto, “claiming that Monsanto-”owned” genes are to be regarded as contamination” to their own crops. Ballsy. And so very inspiring!
Read more here.
Photos: RLA Foundation.