Supreme Court Allows EULAs On Seeds

from the don't-drop-those-appleseeds,-johnny dept

Richard Ahlquist writes: "A farmer has now felt the wrath of the SEULA or the Seed End User License Agreement! It turns out one farmer who goes by the name Homan McFarling decided after his crops came in to hold some of the seed generated from his produce and use it to replant the next year. Evidently the seed police at Monsanto found out about this (perhaps he didn't buy any new seed the next year) and sued McFarling. That was in 1999. Fast forward to today and you will find that the Supreme Court has decided that he did indeed violate the license agreement by planting his own seeds and he is being fined $375,000.

The story presents an interesting thought. These genetically engineered strains are built to thrive better than our existing crops. Once the seed manufacturers have managed either through attrition or engineering to destroy our natural plants, they will control the agriculture world wide because in order to grow anything you need seeds. If it's illegal to hold seeds from the crop you grew to replant because of the license agreement it would effectively mean an end to many smaller farms as they become unable to compete with the superior seed and the prices charged for it. Now where is that trademark application so I can trademark SEULA....."


We wrote about this case initially a few years ago, when it was going to the appeals court, where we hoped there would be a little common sense applied, recognizing how silly it is to tell someone they cannot replant seeds from the very plants that they, themselves, grew. It's rather unfortunate that the Supreme Court disagreed. The real problem here is yet another artifact of bizarre intellectual property laws. Tangible goods and digital goods are very different. Intellectual property laws try to make digital goods more like tangible goods, but due to the nature of those goods, it actually provides even more control -- such as when it comes to limiting what a buyer can do after they've bought the product. It's quite depressing that, rather than helping people realize how these laws are problematic, they've just made producers of tangible goods start to drool about the possibility of putting similar rights on tangible goods.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Scott, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 9:27am

    Natural Propagation and Harvesting

    What's to stop a bird from eating some of the patented soybeans, flying away, dropping them on another farm that is not a customer and who never entered into a license agreement with the producer, who's owner later harvests the plants produced when the seeds germinate, and uses the seeds from them to plant more crops?

     

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      Todd E. Miller, Jan 23rd, 2008 @ 8:41am

      Re: Natural Propagation and Harvesting

      There is a movie I just watched called "Future of Food" where they address as similar issue. Seeds blew off trucks traveling on a road next to a farm and the farmer found round up resistant Rape seed (canola)on his property, somehow Monsanto found out came on his property and found evidence of the plants growing around the telephone poles and sued the farmer. You can probably find the movie on line, I rented it through Netflix, the on line movie club. Todd

       

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    Matt, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 9:30am

    Re: Natural Propogation

    Well Scott, do you have the bird's address? That is a violation and civil remedy must be pursued. Also the second farm would be in violation and subject to suit. In fact, just the very fact that you're writing about this makes you vicariously liable for the actions of that thieving bird. I would expect a notice of legal action in the mail.

     

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    Paul, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 9:32am

    Already happened Sort of

    Its all ready happened n Western Canada (sort of). A farmer is western Canada bought canola seeds from Monsanto one year but not the next year. They tested his crops and found the Monsanto seeds mixed in. The farmer argued they had blown in from another field or were dropped in the previous harvest. The court ruled it did not matter how the seeds got into the field. The seeds growing in the fields were "owned" by Monsanto and the farmer had to pay the license.

    Maybe I will start a business to sell unlicensed seeds to farmers?

     

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      Neil, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 11:15am

      Re: Already happened Sort of

      "A farmer is western Canada bought canola seeds from Monsanto one year but not the next year. They tested his crops and found the Monsanto seeds mixed in. The farmer argued they had blown in from another field or were dropped in the previous harvest. The court ruled it did not matter how the seeds got into the field. The seeds growing in the fields were "owned" by Monsanto and the farmer had to pay the license."

      That case was a bit more complex than that. Specifically, the court found that the proportion of Monsanto seeds in the field (>90%, from memory) could only be explained by the farmer planting the seeds and breaking his agreement with Monsanto. The evidence didn't substantiate the farmer's allegation that the seeds blew into his field from neighboring farms.

       

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      chris (profile), Jan 23rd, 2008 @ 11:42am

      Re: Already happened Sort of

      Maybe I will start a business to sell unlicensed seeds to farmers?

      http://www.victoryseeds.com

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 9:50am

    AEULA

    So next the car makers are going to attach an Automobile End User License Agreement. I'll have to check "AGREE" every time I start the car. It will prohibit me from selling the car to anyone but the original dealer, to dry up the used car market. It will prohibit me from having the vehicle serviced anywhere but a factory authorized dealership. It will prohibit me from looking under the hood, lest I infringe on their valuable intellecutal property.

    That's not even as bad as this judgement. The AEULA only restricts what I can do with the product that the car maker themselves built. Putting one on seeds is restricting the use of something that the seed maker never touched, and which, in fact, was created by the grower.

     

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    DaveW, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 9:59am

    Coffee TOS

    Anyone see Doug Walker's Coffee Terms of Service? Need the Venti size for this to fit...

    http://www.webwalker.ca/2008/01/11/if-everyday-purchases-had-terms-of-service/

     

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    Jezsik, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 10:00am

    I could get worse

    How 'bout if Microsoft insisted that work created with their products can not be accessed with any of their competitors' products.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 10:02am

    Just wow . . .

    And for a while I've been rooting for the Supreme Court. Question is though, since they can only interpret the law, is it the stupid legislature's fault (way to screw the rest of us to line your already filled pockets) or was there some way this was unconstitutional (no idea how unless some IP laws are changed).

    Either way, score 1 Big Business, 0 for The People.

     

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      dorpass, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 10:06am

      Re: Just wow . . .

      Supreme Court does not "only interpret law." It can deem it to be unconstitutional, but the only thing they "only interpret" is constitution. The laws can be interpreted or reviewed.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 11:49am

      Re: Just wow . . .

      Can Mike comment on this? Is the SCOTUS acting according to the letter of the law, or should the SCOTUS have found this law unconstitutional? It's a stupid case, but I don't want the SCOTUS just making up laws, either...

       

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    JB, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 10:18am

    A Contract is a Contract

    The farmer signed a contract and then he violated that contract. Why is there sympathy for this guy?

     

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    TheDock22, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 10:19am

    But...

    The farmer should have read the agreement. By buying the seeds and planting them, he is bound to the agreement. How can you fault the company? Next time he should buy his seeds from someone else or read the agreement and not violate it.

    It will be a sad day in America when you enter into a legally binding contract and then turn around and say "I changed my mind!" without consequence.

     

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      Mischa, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 1:07pm

      Re: But...

      As far as I'm concerned, it should not be considered a legally binding contract in the first place.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 2:29pm

      Re: But...

      The farmer should have read the agreement.

      Perhaps he did. But perhaps he also didn't get a lawyer to advise him first. Then again, maybe he did that too. Lawyers aren't always right.

      By buying the seeds and planting them, he is bound to the agreement.

      Not necessarily. See below.

      How can you fault the company?

      That would depend on the terms. There are limits on what you can make people agree to.

      Next time he should buy his seeds from someone else or read the agreement and not violate it.

      You keep saying that he didn't read the terms. The linked article didn't say that he didn't read them, so here are coming up with that? Are you, for some reason, making stuff up?

      It will be a sad day in America when you enter into a legally binding contract and then turn around and say "I changed my mind!" without consequence.

      But you see, that "legally binding" part is crucial and why this case went to the Supreme Court. To determine if these particular terms were legally binding. Some people have this kooky idea that anything you can get someone to agree to is necessarily "legally binding". It isn't. Or as if though contracts are a way to write your own "laws". They aren't (or at least, aren't supposed to be). For example, I might be able to get someone to agree to be my slave and property for the rest of their life. However, and as much as you might wish otherwise, it wouldn't be legally binding.

      This case wasn't about whether someone could "change their mind" as you tried to characterize it, but whether the terms were legally binding in the first place.

       

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        TheDock22, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 3:22pm

        Re: Re: But...

        Perhaps he did. But perhaps he also didn't get a lawyer to advise him first. Then again, maybe he did that too. Lawyers aren't always right.

        So? Ignorance to the law is no excuse for anything.

        That would depend on the terms. There are limits on what you can make people agree to.

        It is their product and their terms. They can sell their seeds however the want to and with whatever limits they want to. If people don't agree to their terms, then don't buy the product. But don't buy the seeds, break the terms of the contract, and then waste the courts time saying it is unfair.


        You keep saying that he didn't read the terms. The linked article didn't say that he didn't read them, so here are coming up with that? Are you, for some reason, making stuff up?


        I just assumed he didn't. How many of us actually read every EULA that comes with the software we buy?

        But you see, that "legally binding" part is crucial and why this case went to the Supreme Court. To determine if these particular terms were legally binding. Some people have this kooky idea that anything you can get someone to agree to is necessarily "legally binding". It isn't. Or as if though contracts are a way to write your own "laws". They aren't (or at least, aren't supposed to be). For example, I might be able to get someone to agree to be my slave and property for the rest of their life. However, and as much as you might wish otherwise, it wouldn't be legally binding.

        Well, no, you could not force someone to be your slave because that is an illegal act. An illegal act can not be part of any legally binding contract. I could, however, have somebody sign a piece of paper that simply says "I let you borrow $500 of my money on this day and you owe it back to me by this day." That would be a legally binding contract and the courts would have to uphold the contract if violated. Pretty much anything that is not illegal is legally binding as far as written contracts go.

        This case wasn't about whether someone could "change their mind" as you tried to characterize it, but whether the terms were legally binding in the first place.

        Which the courts decided these terms were legally binding and if the farmer knew the terms, then he knew he violated them. If he did not known the terms from reading the contract (or not reading it), then that is no excuse in the eyes of the law. This is a buyer beware issue and I agree with the courts decision.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 4:04pm

          Re: Re: Re: But...

          They can sell their seeds however the want to and with whatever limits they want to.

          You may wish things were that way, but that's not what the law says.

          I just assumed he didn't.

          And then presented it as a statement of fact. That's dishonest.

          Well, no, you could not force someone to be your slave because that is an illegal act.

          You're either being dishonest again or you didn't read and comprehend what I wrote. I didn't say anything about "forcing" someone to be your slave. I specifically stated that they agreed to it.

          Pretty much anything that is not illegal is legally binding as far as written contracts go.

          If you are saying that only criminal activity can't be binding in contracts, then you really need to go ask a lawyer because you obviously don't know what you're talking about. I'm not a lawyer either, but I have used them to review terms of contracts and know from experience that there are many things which are not criminal but still are not binding in contracts.

          Which the courts decided these terms were legally binding...

          Which was what was in question. Not whether he could just "change his mind" as you claimed. Are you always this dishonest?

           

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            TheDock22, Jan 22nd, 2008 @ 8:30am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: But...

            You may wish things were that way, but that's not what the law says.

            When you sell a product you determine price, terms of sale, and the use of that product when sold (hence the EULA agreement on some items) If the market says blah to your business model, then you fail.

            And then presented it as a statement of fact. That's dishonest.

            You do realize this is a blog and that all comments on this blog are opinions, right? If not, then you need to quit posting for being a moron.

            You're either being dishonest again or you didn't read and comprehend what I wrote. I didn't say anything about "forcing" someone to be your slave. I specifically stated that they agreed to it.

            Well now that is just semantics. They can "agree" to be your slave in a contract, in which you are trying to force them to be you slave with their consent. Either way, not legally binding. Come up with your own arguments rather than twisting my around. Originality my friend.

            If you are saying that only criminal activity can't be binding in contracts, then you really need to go ask a lawyer because you obviously don't know what you're talking about. I'm not a lawyer either, but I have used them to review terms of contracts and know from experience that there are many things which are not criminal but still are not binding in contracts.

            I never said ONLY criminal activities aren't legally binding, but I am saying ALL criminal activities can't be legally binding. You did not comprehend what I said, which is alright.

            Which was what was in question. Not whether he could just "change his mind" as you claimed. Are you always this dishonest?

            Not really since this is a blog. Any comment on here is opinion and not fact. If you want facts, stick to the story itself than waste time picking apart a comment.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Jan 22nd, 2008 @ 2:36pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: But...

              You do realize this is a blog and that all comments on this blog are opinions, right? If not, then you need to quit posting for being a moron.

              I've looked back over some of your previous posts and noticed that you seem to have a history of lying. I think I see where your problem is now. You have somehow gotten the idea that posting on a blog is a license to lie. Well, I've got news for you. It isn't. If you present something as your opinion, then that that's one thing. But if you present untruths as fact then that's just plain lying.

              Well now that is just semantics. They can "agree" to be your slave in a contract, in which you are trying to force them to be you slave with their consent.

              Yeah, just words. You play pretty loose and fast with those, don't you?

              Either way, not legally binding.

              But for very different reasons.

              Come up with your own arguments rather than twisting my around.

              It seems to me you're the one trying to twist things around. Don't try to put your straw man's words into my mouth. That's dishonest but just what I'm coming to expect of you.

              Not really since this is a blog.

              I suspect otherwise.

              Any comment on here is opinion and not fact.

              Not if you present it as fact.

              So, you've been caught lying and the best you can do now is to try to justify it? I really don't know where you ever got the idea that it's alright to lie if it's on a blog. Did you just make that up? Does it, in your mind, extend to the whole internet? When do you ever tell the truth? Only under oath, maybe? What a shame. Oh well, at least I understand you now.

               

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    Ed LaRose, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 10:28am

    This is just absurd!

     

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      Ed LaRose, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 10:38am

      Re: This is just absurd!

      Whoops, hit send too quick!

      What I meant to say is that permitting a contract such as this to exist throws out the last 12,000 years or so of agricultural practice. It is COMMON KNOWLEDGE that farmers have to save a certain percentage of the seed from their crops in order to grow more the next year. The fact that these giant corporations can come in and get a court order preventing the farmers from doing this is wrong, no matter how special the seeds are!
      At any rate, shouldn't Monsanto be giving the seeds away, seeing as how the farmers will keep coming back to them for the glyphosate anyway? Don't they make enough on the chemicals that the seeds should be trivial?
      All this ruling does is force poor farmers to become even more indebted to the big corporations!

      When is the SCOTUS going to realize that the Constitution was enacted as a contract between the people and the government, and that corporations cannot be considered as people?

      Oh yeah, probably never, because all the major players in the politcal arena are owned by corporate interests. "Public servants" is a phrase you don't often hear anymore, it's instead become "self-servants"!

       

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        Ace, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 1:57pm

        Re: Re: This is just absurd!

        ALl you need to do is overturn I believe the US SC: State of Nevada V. Penn State Railroad Corp. This is the case were it was found that ecessive taxation and penalties on a company violated its right to do buisness or be a functional enterprise, which was interpreted as Right to body, heabus Corpus...for a corp! This created the monsters we have today...

         

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    Colg, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 10:30am

    Ahh Monsanto, The good people that brought us Genetically Engineered seed, Bovine growth hormone, roundup, Nutrasweet, Saccharin, PCBs, Agent orange, Vanillin, the atom bomb... oh and pigs... well maybe not the animal itself but a breeding process that grants ownership of any pig anywhere that used its process to Monsanto.

    Monsanto is about as nasty and corrupt as a corporation can get in my opinion.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsanto

    Here is a story killed by fox about Monsanto:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axU9ngbTxKw

     

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      Anonymous of Course, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 10:58am

      Re:

      The actual inventors as far as I can tell are;

      Genetically Engineered seed, USDA
      Bovine growth hormone, Genentech
      Roundup, monsanto
      Nutrasweet, Monsanto
      Saccharin, Sandoz Chemical Company
      PCBs Swann, Chemical Company
      Agent orange, US Govt
      Vanillin, First synthesis 1874?
      Atom Bomb, US Govt
      Pigs, God or Evolution

      In my opinion Roundup is a very good
      thing indeed when compared to most of
      the alternatives. Nutrasweet... not so
      good.

       

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    Bill, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 10:30am

    And on this ruling the FSF and OSS movements were formed. The Free Seed Foundation and Open Seed Source.

     

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    Anonymous of Course, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 10:32am

    "DRM" for Seeds?

    More like IPM but DRM gets everyone hopping
    mad.

    There are genetically manipulated "terminator"
    seeds and also infertile hybrids which have
    been around for ages. I'd hate for all seeds
    to go that way because there are times when you
    may really need to propagate a crop from the
    harvest... or starve.

    So how would you change the business model for
    this, Mike? Monsanto spends billions developing,
    say, a roundup herbicide resistant strain of soybean.
    Then a farmer buys one crop's worth of seeds and
    propagates them from then on from his harvests?
    How does Monsanto recoup their investmet let alone
    profit. If they priced the product to do that in
    only a few growing seasons no one could afford it.

    I'm not saying Monsanto is following the best path
    I just see don't see an alternative.

    Enlighten me, please?

     

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    Anonymous of Course, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 10:33am

    "DRM" for Seeds?

    More like IPM but DRM gets everyone hopping
    mad.

    There are genetically manipulated "terminator"
    seeds and also infertile hybrids which have
    been around for ages. I'd hate for all seeds
    to go that way because there are times when you
    may really need to propagate a crop from the
    harvest... or starve.

    So how would you change the business model for
    this, Mike? / Sorry, I mean Richard. / Monsanto
    spends billions developing, say, a roundup
    herbicide resistant strain of soybean. Then a
    farmer buys one crop's worth of seeds and propagates
    them from then on from his harvests?
    How does Monsanto recoup their investmet let alone
    profit. If they priced the product to do that in
    only a few growing seasons no one could afford it.

    I'm not saying Monsanto is following the best path
    I just see don't see an alternative.

    Enlighten me, please?

     

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      Ed LaRose, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 10:41am

      Re: "DRM" for Seeds?

      Umm, they could give the seeds away and still make tons of money on the herbicide!

       

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        TheDock22, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 10:52am

        Re: Re: "DRM" for Seeds?

        Umm, they could give the seeds away and still make tons of money on the herbicide!

        Unless the farmer goes with a different herbicide company. See that is what makes this case unique. Musicians can give away their music for free, but no one is going to go buy a t-shirt from another band to support the original band.

         

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          Ed LaRose, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 10:59am

          Re: Re: Re: "DRM" for Seeds?

          The seeds are specifically resistant to a given herbicide, which I'm betting, is patented. So the farmer would not necessarily be able to buy chemicals from another company to use with resistant seed from a first company.

           

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 10:34am

    Read Re-wired

    There is an interesting story in the collection Re-wired that explores just this scenario, where a few companies own patents on all forms of agriculture that is still viable.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 10:38am

    What if you don't get the EULA when you buy the product at the store ?
    Can I then plant the apples / oranges / ect that I buy in the store & grow my own plants ?

     

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      pegr, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 1:57pm

      Re:

      Easy to thwart the EULA... Buy your seed from a farmer that raised the Monsanto variety. Monsanto has an agreement only with the original farmer. If you buy the seed from someone else, you are under no obligation to anyone for anything!

       

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    Ken Herron, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 11:01am

    Denied Certiorari

    It looks like the Supreme Court just denied certiorari on the appeal. In other words they didn't judge the case on its merits; they declined to hear the appeal. You can't read too much into this; they receive a lot of appeals and they have to be picky about what they accept.

     

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    BruceShining, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 11:02am

    Land ownership?

    I thought there were "rights" associated with land ownership. Something about being able to do what you wanted with it... as long as. I figure the as long as clauses should only prohibit land usages that conflict with the "common good". But, oh no, Monsanto can now infringe on a farmer's (or mine I guess if I buy those seeds and capriciously sign their eula). I wonder; is there something on those packets of seed I buy? I never read the fine print... maybe someday they will take my home from me because I didn't read the fine print? To sum it up. This is wrong. And my opinion of Monsanto just dropped "another" notch. (Didn't think much of them before anyway).

     

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      JB, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 11:39am

      Re: Land ownership?

      I wonder; is there something on those packets of seed I buy? I never read the fine print.

      The next time you plant geraniums or tomato plants in your garden take a look at that little plastic tag they stick in the pot, it will probably say "propagation prohibited".

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 11:04am

    So can I buy soybeans from the store & plant them ?

     

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    Reed, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 11:53am

    Just say no to Monsanto

    "So how would you change the business model for
    this, Mike? / Sorry, I mean Richard. / Monsanto
    spends billions developing, say, a roundup
    herbicide resistant strain of soybean. Then a
    farmer buys one crop's worth of seeds and propagates
    them from then on from his harvests?"

    The answer would be simply do not spend that money to develop the seed. The reality of the herbicide and pesticide market is they just don't work. Crop rotation and natural predators are far more effective than herbicides and pesticides.

    Through the use of these man-made chemicals we see herbicide resistant weeds and pesticide resistant bugs which require even more chemicals or new and more deadly concoctions which will soon loose their effectiveness. It is a losing battle that has cost us our clean environment.

    The dead zone off the Gulf of Mexico is caused from over use of fertilization along with pesticides and herbicides. Is Monsanto going to foot the bill for repairing the damage their chemicals have caused?

    Monsanto needs to be forced to take care of their mess long before we grant them special government protection for a failing business model. Seed businesses have existed for a long time, now Monsanto wants to re-invent the wheel so only they are make the world go 'round.

    If capitalism actually adjusted for some of the externalized costs then companies like Monsanto wouldn't even exist. They are destroying our planet to make a buck and only our broken system would allow such utter nonsense.

     

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      BruceShining, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 12:13pm

      Re: Just say no to Monsanto

      Yep, that's what I think too. Corporations (Monsanto being the current excellent example) are actually encouraged to act against the public good by a system that rewards profits above the "common good". It is clearly not in the public interest (that's all of us) to have dead zones and horrific pollution levels, but profits are maximized... so we do. For this specific issue... about the only thing we can do is not necessarily boycott Monsanto... but try to purchase as much food as possible locally (as in farmer's markets).

       

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous of Course, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 12:58pm

      Re: Just say no to Monsanto

      Ok, some of what you say I can agree with.
      But without the use of modern agricultural
      practices there would have been mass starvation
      far beyond what we have already seen.

      Yes, we should adjust our practices to
      conserve resources and protect wildlife.
      There is constant effort in that direction
      with one example being no-till or low-till
      cultivation, usually coupled with glyphosate
      or one of it's competitors.

      Corp rotation and natural preditors alone
      won't cut it. These were well known before
      the green revolution that started in the
      late 1950's. Yet from 1950 through 1992
      yeilds increased by more than 150%.

      You'd have to drastically reduce the population
      if you are to eliminate modern fertilizers,
      herbicides and insecticides.

      When the horse was the source of power for
      transportation. There was an ample supply
      of manure for fertilization of the limited
      crops. To meet your objective shall we
      eliminate the automobile as well?

      (ok, we don't make the best use of the many livestock
      production sources of manure and offal for fertilizer
      but its still not enough to support the present need)

      The simple answer is don't buy Monsanto's seeds if
      you don't like the terms. If it's the right choice
      most people will eventually come around it to and
      Monsanto will be driven out of the seed market.

      As far as the dead zonne, you have the pollution
      from the Mississippi river being dumped into the gulf.
      It's a big river, there is lots of farm land and cities
      along it and it's tributaries. Hardly the responsibility
      of one agribusiness company.

      Capitalism isn't the problem. If farmers are given
      an alternative that works and makes economic sense,
      they'll adopt it. It's their land and they want to
      keep it productive. This is true for both small and
      large farms. In centrally managed socialist societies
      the damage is just as bad, and often worse.

      You seem to want to return to the pre-industrial world.
      Yeah, that might be great for a few people but the rest
      would just have to suck it up and die, I guess. Maybe
      I'm wrong about that... just seems that way to me.

       

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      •  
        identicon
        Bill McDorman, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 6:41pm

        Re: Re: Just say no to Monsanto

        The link between modern agriculture and hunger is largely a myth. Check out the Food First folks here:

        http://www.foodfirst.org/pubs/backgrdrs/1998/s98v5n3.html

         

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        identicon
        Reed, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 8:13pm

        Re: Re: Just say no to Monsanto

        "As far as the dead zonne, you have the pollution
        from the Mississippi river being dumped into the gulf.
        It's a big river, there is lots of farm land and cities
        along it and it's tributaries. Hardly the responsibility
        of one agribusiness company."

        I would beg to differ, since they advocate the for "modern" farming techniques the policies and markets they influence directly affect the increased usage of pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers.

        Traditional farming techniques have lasted for ten of thousands of years for a reason, they work. It is entirely feasible to feed our existing and future populations through concepts like crop rotation and no-till farming. Not to mention the possibility of indoor soiless growing could solve most of our outdoor erosion problems.

        As far as capitalism not being the problem that is patently false. Our form of capitalism exists by externalizing as much of the costs that exist in the modern market place. As others have put it corporations make profits at the cost of the public good. I merely am suggesting we factor in these externalized costs into the equation.

        If we put a real price on clean air and clean water that we enjoy, corporations would quickly adjust their model to make their enterprise profitable. Simply put, you make it too expensive to condone polluting for the public good. We have made a few strides in this direction, but so much more needs to be done to bring our form of capitalism into a form of economics future generation will not have to pay for dearly for.

        Sometimes you have to change the rules of the game to make it fair for everyone. Is it really asking too much to make it fair for our environment so future generations can enjoy a clean and healthy Earth?

         

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        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous of Course, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 9:52pm

          Re: Re: Re: Just say no to Monsanto

          "Traditional farming techniques have lasted for ten of thousands of years for a reason, they work. It is entirely feasible to feed our existing and future populations through concepts like crop rotation and no-till farming. Not to mention the possibility of indoor soiless growing could solve most of our outdoor erosion problems"

          Slash and burn is a traditional farming practice,
          I hope you're not advocating that. Traditional
          farming practices can not cope with the population
          farmers feed today from so few acres. Shall we
          revert to an agrarian society and all spend our
          days toiling in the field as we rip up every plot
          of land capable of producing a crop?

          Crop rotation is common practice and has been, as you
          say, for thousands of years. Even corn farmers who tend
          to be the least enlightened (sorry if I've offended)
          generally see the value in growing soybeans, or in dairy
          states alfalfa, now and then to keep the soil productive.
          No till is pretty much the rule in many areas of the
          country.

          It appears to me that the most significant problem
          is run-off and erosion. But even natural manures
          (the old tyme word for fertilizer) create run-off
          problems. I think there is a lot to be done in
          creating buffer zones around water sheds to reduce
          run-off.

          As for hydroponics yeah, that's swell. But you won't
          feed livestock on alfalfa or corn grown hydroponically.
          Even if you eschew all forms of meat it looks like
          to me like an impossible task to grow enough volume
          of grain indoors to feed the world. After all,
          bread is the staff of life, well, bread and rice.

          I agree as far as holding people and companies
          responsible for their actions. Strict water pollution
          control regulations to keep livestock and crop production
          run-off out of lakes and streams are a good thing.
          But some farmer with a stream running though the middle
          of his cemented barn yard (yes, I've actually seen
          this) isn't Monsanto's fault.

          I'm no big fan of Con-Agra or Monsanto. Since I was old
          enough to walk my parents had me picking bugs off tomato
          and cabbage plants. No chemical fertilizers, no
          insecticides in our gardens and my father was a chemical
          engineer. I maintain the same practices in my own garden
          today. But that's a long, long way removed from running
          a thousand acres of corn. What I do will not work in the
          huge scale of modern farms. I wish it would, but it won't.

          And we do put a price on clean air and water, there are
          volumes of regulations controlling pollution and stiff
          fines for violations of these regulations. It IS and
          economic incentive to business and I applaud it.

          There are several federal programs, that include
          active monitoring, to encourage errosion reduction
          practices and set aside highly errodible land. The
          wetlands protection act and water fowl production
          projects help too.

          I don't know anyone that condones wanton pollution of
          our environment. No one wants to kill the earth.
          Frankly the earth can, and will, get along just fine
          with or without humans. It may be a surprise but
          businessmen are people too, so are chemists, engineers
          and farmers. Yes there are bad men everywhere but they
          are the minority.

          So the real issue is how do we keep people alive in the
          best health with the least injury to the environment.
          It's not an either/or proposition. There is a balance
          to be struck.

          Future generations would find no joy in a pristine
          environment as they starve. If you are advocating
          population control, ok, fine. But the notion that
          you could feed the current population via hydroponics
          is naive at best.

           

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          •  
            identicon
            Anonymous of Course, Jan 22nd, 2008 @ 8:14am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Just say no to Monsanto

            I forgot to mention another economic
            factor that drives agri-business toward
            less damaging practices. Chemicals cost
            money. There's been a great deal of research
            and development into equipment that reduces
            the use of fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides
            and insecticides. For instance, many big
            spraying rigs now use GPS to reduce waste
            from overlapping applications.

            Another advantage of genetically modified crops
            is the reduction or elimination of some chemicals
            now used. Corn resistant to corn borer larva, in
            other crops you can buy root rot resistance,
            nematode resistance... and more. These traits
            can be stacked, designer style so the farmer only
            buys what he needs.

            More food, less pollution. It's the second green
            revoltion.

            Yeah, I have some fears about genetically altered
            food. I'm not convinced that it's totally safe.
            But fear preceded the adoption of gas lighting and
            the electric utility too.

             

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  •  
    identicon
    Greg Hynson, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 12:10pm

    Kid EULA's

    So when can we start slaping on EULA's to our new born kids.
    I'd very much like the option of getting rid of kids in violation of your EULA from birth.
    Just take thier finger prints at birth, and when they grow up and become problems to soceity, we can sue them for violation of thier EULA.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    dualboot, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 12:11pm

    my tomatoes...

    In 2006 I had a failed crop of tomatoes in my backyard vegetable garden, and only 16 plants survived the combination of unusually dry, hot season, and cucumber blight that didn't restrict itself to cucumbers.

    In 2007, I rotated my crops, as I always do, but managed to get 12 tomato plants sprout in my pepper area. Do I now owe Burpee money since the seeds I planted the prior year resulted in new plants this year?

    That said... even though it's a stupid law, if you're going to replant, still buy seeds in slowly diminishing quantities to stay off the radar of the "obviously infringing" people. Sad to say, but something like this could eventually wipe out the naturally sustainable food sources.

    Finally, the seeds SHOULD be free, because they are ONLY resistant to that brand's herbicides, meaning guaranteed herbicide sales.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      TheDock22, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 12:22pm

      Re: my tomatoes...


      Finally, the seeds SHOULD be free, because they are ONLY resistant to that brand's herbicides, meaning guaranteed herbicide sales.


      Everyone keeps saying this, but I have yet to find any proof. On Monsanto's website, the seeds say that the plants will be resistant to their herbicide products, meaning they are guaranteed to survive and grow if you use herbicides. It doesn't say anywhere you can't use other brands of herbicides containing the same chemicals or natural ways to keep weeds under control.

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Joe, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 12:15pm

    Negative Price Pressure

    This should put negative price pressure on seeds which have this license agreement. Part of the inherent value proposition of buying seeds is that you can replant some from your crop; removing this right reduces the value tangibly.

    Sort of like when I buy a CD, part of the value to me is that I can rip it; I wouldn't pay nearly as much for an unrippable CD.

    Of course the market should work this out - if the seeds are so valuable that their utility outweights this loss of value, they will sell. It would be useful if Monsanto would sell a recurring license, it would help someone make the value judgement more easily.

    It all comes down to truth in advertising, and monopoly prevention - as long as Monsanto isn't the only company selling seeds, the market will decide how much value they are adding to their seeds.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Annadar, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 2:09pm

    The facts from the industry . . .

    This answers a lot of questions, but we're still screwed:

    January 9, 2008

    The Supreme Court, without comment, ruled in favor of Monsanto on Jan. 7 and upheld a lower court ruling that penalized a Mississippi farmer for reusing genetically modified soybean seeds.

    Monsanto was awarded $375,000 in damages after successfully suing Homan McFarling in 1999 for violating its patents by replanting Roundup Ready soybean seeds.

    McFarling saved 1,500 bushels of seeds from his 1998 soybean crop and planted those seeds in 1999. He did the same thing the following year, saving soybeans from his 1999 crop and planting them in 2000.

    Monsanto sued, arguing that a technology agreement the farmer signed restricted him to using the seeds for only one growing season. McFarling's lawyers argued that patent law does not allow Monsanto "to control the future use of seeds that were a natural product of the seeds that he had bought and planted."

    But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., sided with Monsanto, ruling that the "the licensed and patented product (the first-generation seeds) and the goods made by the licensed product (the second-generation seeds) are nearly identical copies."

    The Supreme Court's affirmation of the lower court rulings helps ensure "continued investment into the kind of research and development necessary to keep growers on the cutting edge of productivity," Monsanto said in a statement.

    "We believe strong intellectual property protection will encourage the investment needed to maintain continued crop improvement," the company stated.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    LovinIt, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 2:56pm

    Supreme Court Rocks!!!

    Mark one down for Turth, Justice, and the American Way as luckily our court systemgot one right this time! People are free to consume items and develop their own objects (seeds in this case) and distribute as they feel appropriate. People are also free to select a "different/higher" quality of items from someone/somewhere who wants to sell them a superior mousetrap. To people on this thread or elsewhere who thing they deserve to have things for free - I wish you well. You are free to go find corn in the wild and cultivate it to have the traits you prefer, or spend a buck at your local convenience store to compensate the folks who went out and did the work for you and delivered it there. In this article it's a bunch of people with the same name on their paychecks - I wish them well for providing for their families and for bettering our environment.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    ehrichweiss, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 4:40pm

    got a solution

    1. Create dummy corp to purchase seeds and "accept" EULA
    2. Dissolve the corporation
    3. Liquidate the assets, sans EULA since it doesn't carry to the next buyer
    4. Buyer mixes the seed with stock in local seed stores, etc.
    5. (Humankind) Profits!!

    LovinIt: Yep "Turth" totally won here. Speakin' of checks, how did you get a job as a shill?

     

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    •  
      identicon
      David McMillan, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 7:28pm

      Re: got a solution

      Yea, the issue with that (at lest in Canada) the owner of the IP still retains control. You are still using their product with out expressed permission. At lest with canola seeds and Monsanto.

      Even if you have your own crop, and it has lots of good properties but the gene to protect the plant from RoundUp pollutes your crop you are still f**ked. Monsanto owns it.

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 5:50pm

    The court system and the supreme court has historically rules in the favor of copyright and patent holder.

    It is probably not because of corruption but because they can't understand simple economic. If they can make correct decision on civil right cases and err when it come to patent and copyright, then they were incompetent.

    Unfortunately, economists don't make the important economic decision, incompetent politicians and judges do.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    David McMillan, Jan 21st, 2008 @ 7:38pm

    Who does Monsanto pay royalties to?

    Fine they can own a gene or two, but what about the rest of them the other 99% The work from other breeders in the past. Monsanto makes Disney look IP friendly. Add on top I can go with out movies, I can not go with out food.

    Sorry there needs to be limits added some where, like shorten the time or have IP dissolve if plants and/or genes get out in wild.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    inc, Jan 22nd, 2008 @ 1:00am

    who is up to help me develop an open source seed?

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 22nd, 2008 @ 6:59am

    There is in fact open source corn seed. Monsanto doesn't sell all corn, just this type of corn, which in fact is pretty good for farmers. Better yields. Farmers have the choice of not buying the corn, they can buy cheaper corn, but their crops won't be as good. Its really very simple, you don't like the agreement, buy different corn. Whats the problem?

    I am waiting for Monsanto to come out with grass seed that is resistant to Roundup. I will pay money for that. Soon, soon.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    inc, Jan 22nd, 2008 @ 7:26am

    nice... i wonder if there will be pirated corn you can download .. haha

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 22nd, 2008 @ 9:09am

    Does Monsanto force farmers to buy their seed? No, there are other seeds available, they just are not as good. Farmers are free to buy inferior corn, some choose to do so, but their crops are not as healthy.

    Seems pretty easy to me, either agree to the terms that Monsanto has or buy different corn. What is the problem?

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jan 22nd, 2008 @ 2:46pm

      Re:

      Seems pretty easy to me, either agree to the terms that Monsanto has or buy different corn. What is the problem?
      The problem was a disagreement over whether those terms were enforceable. For example, an employer might try to include sexual favors for the boss in the terms of employment. Now some people would argue that those terms are alright because if people don't like it they should just go work somewhere else. The law, however, says otherwise.

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Scorpiaux, Jan 22nd, 2008 @ 3:29pm

    Contracts

    "We wrote about this case initially a few years ago, when it was going to the appeals court, where we hoped there would be a little common sense applied, recognizing how silly it is to tell someone they cannot replant seeds from the very plants that they, themselves, grew. It's rather unfortunate that the Supreme Court disagreed."

    =====

    Reads like a misstatement to me. Are you certain that the USSC said that they "... cannot replant seeds from the ... plants that they ... grew"? Could it be that the USSC instead ruled that the contract was valid and had to honored?

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2008 @ 6:30pm

      Re: Contracts

      Reads like a misstatement to me.

      Mike didn't attribute that quote to SCOTUS. You're making stuff up again. Between you and dock22 the bull is getting pretty thick in here.

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Clueby4, Jan 22nd, 2008 @ 7:34pm

    "I changed my mind!"

    Wait Dock are you neglecting to acknowledge most of the pseudo contracts consumers "sign" doesn't have a clause in the "agreement" to cover the businesses "I changed my mind!" situation? Frankly, I find the binding arbitration clause in most contracts a backdoor "I changed my mind!" method of attack.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    IssueTalk, Jan 23rd, 2008 @ 7:56am

    Profits NOT Sustainability Rule

    On 17th December 2007 Monsanto was found guilty of contempt of the South African Advertising Authority (ASA) for publishing false claims about the safety of GM foods.

    In January,2007, Monsanto was fined 15,000 euros (US$19,000 ) in a French court for misleading the public about the environmental impact of herbicide Roundup.

    A former chairman of Monsanto Agriculture France was found guilty of false advertising for presenting Roundup as biodegradable and claiming that it left the soil clean after use. Monsanto's French distributor Scotts France was also fined 15,000 euros.

    In 2005 Monsanto was caught smuggling South African produced GM Bollgard cotton seed into Indonesia disguised as rice. Monsanto was fined for bribing Indonesian officials.

    In 2006 Monsanto suppressed evidence of serious damage to the liver and kidneys of rats in their MON 863 GM maize trials until ordered to release this evidence by a German Court.

    In June, 2007, a second peer-reviewed case involving another variation of Monsanto's GM maize, namely, NK 603, has been shown by studies to be potentially toxic to humans. NK 603 has been approved for food, feed, processing, and propagation in Europe and the Philippines The new research, carried out by the French scientific research institute CRIGEN, involves biotech firm Monsanto's NK 603 GMO corn (marketed commercially under the name Round-up Ready).

    Rats that were fed GM maize showed significant differences in measurements, as well as significant weight differences compared to those fed with normal maize. Almost 70 statistically significant differences were observed and reported - 12 for hematology parameters, 18 for clinical chemistry parameters, nine for urine chemistry parameters, six for the organ weights (brain, heart, liver), 14 for body weights and body weight changes, and eight for food consumption. toxicity, The most alarming was the diminished brain size. Scientists warned that diminished brain size sent out a urgent danger warning for growing children fed `GM food.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Rekrul, Jan 23rd, 2008 @ 9:28pm

    Stories like this perfectly illustrate just how ****ed up the USA is. (for the record, I'm American) There's not even any pretense anymore that the corporations are in control of the country. I really think that the only way this country can be salvaged is to get rid of every current member of the government and all these ridiculous laws, then start a new government that will actually follow the constitution and use some common sense.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    JB, Sep 23rd, 2008 @ 8:38am

    Solution

    Seedless grapes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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