Monsanto the Great

by Zoe.Papadatos on November 13, 2013 - 12:13pm

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have a bad reputation, and it might have something to do with Monsanto, a large corporation that specializes in chemical and agricultural biotechnologies. Some people would go as far as to say that Monsanto is the most evil corporation in the world (and that’s saying something), but why?

GMOs can be highly beneficial to feeding earth’s growing population, currently at around seven billion people. It could offer nutritional benefits to people in dire need, as well as reduce the global warming threat that pesticides create. There are countless possibilities when the structure of an organism can be genetically altered, so why are so many people opposed to GMOs? It is unfortunately because they are often associated with Monsanto. As it may or may not be known, Monsanto has a reputation for wanting to dominate the food market. They once tried to sue Percy Schmeiser (as well as others like him), a farmer from Saskatchewan, for growing their patented RoundupReady canola seed without paying the user fee. Schmeiser counter-sued for crop contamination, trespassing, and defamation.

"What Monsanto is really after is control of the seed supply," says Schmeiser. He says that the plants on his farm must have been contaminated with his neighbour’s patented seeds, which raises concern on the long-term effects of biotechnology on agriculture and the environment.

"Biotechnology innovations can reduce or eliminate reliance on pesticides and herbicides that may contribute to environmental degradation," Monsanto argues. However, critics add that herbicide-tolerant breeds of GMOs are more likely to lead to increased herbicide use.

In the end, the court decided that a “higher lifeform” (animals and plants) cannot be patented. Therefore, whether Percy Schmeiser grew Monsanto’s genetically modified seed on purpose remains an open question. Consequently, it is not allowed for Monsanto to patent their GMOs in Canada, although they have the right in other countries.

Despite this court case, Monsanto continues to patent their GMOs, such as any pig offspring produced using their methods. In result, Monsanto would have ownership of pigs with a certain genetic trait, allowing them to sue farmers with pigs who share a similar gene. Although the patent applications take several years, Monsanto will ultimately gain a greater monopoly over the food industry.

Singer, Jeff. "David countersues Goliath [Percy Schmeiser suing Monsanto]." Alternatives Journal 13.26.1 (2000): n. pag. ProQuest. Web. 13 Nov. 2013.

Hamilton, Graeme. "Monsanto Applies to Patent Pigs." Alternatives Journal 13.31.5/5 (2005): n. pag. ProQuest. Web. 13 Nov. 2013.


This case came to my attention recently also because there has been a documentary play made named Seeds. The play goes through the story of an interviewer trying to find information on Monsanto through Schmeiser. The play gave a lot of information for both sides and to be honest I am not sure whether be planted the seeds there or not but what Monsanto does, or tries to do with their patents time and time again is wrong and shouldn't be aloud. Yes, if they create the seed they should gain a profit when someone buys them, but as Schmeiser brings up cross-pollination is a large part of the farming business and if some of their seed arrives on his property he has no obligation to automatically pay them.

While I would agree that Monsanto's bad reputation for dominating the global food market can account for some of our general aversion and dislike for GMO products, I think that it also has to do with the unknown long-term health risks of consuming such genetically modified goods. A study performed on rats showed that those who were fed genetically modified corn were more likely to develop tumours and die prematurely. <>

Can you imagine the long-term health risks that consuming these products would have on humans, if rats developed tumours over such a short period of time? GMO products certainly pose a threat to our global health and economic standing.

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