Five Million Brazilian Farmers take on Biotech Giant Monsanto

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NEW DELHI: Five million Brazilian farmers have taken on US based biotech company Monsanto through a lawsuit demanding return of about 6.2 billion euros taken as royalties from them. The farmers are claiming that the powerful company has unfairly extracted these royalties from poor farmers because they were using seeds produced from crops grown from Monsanto’s genetically engineered seeds, reports Merco Press.

In April this year, a judge in the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, ruled in favor of the farmers and ordered Monsanto to return royalties paid since 2004 or a minimum of $2 billion. The ruling said that the business practices of seed multinational Monsanto violate the rules of the Brazilian Cultivars Act (No. 9.456/97). Monsanto has appealed against the order and a federal court ruling on the case is now expected by 2014.About 85% of Brazil’s massive soyabean crop output is produced from genetically engineered seeds. Brazil exports about $24.1 billion worth of soyabeans annually, more than a quarter of its total agri-exports.

Farmers say that they are using seeds produced many generations after the initial crops from the genetically modified Monsanto seeds were grown. Farmers claim that Monsanto unfairly collects exorbitant profits every year worldwide on royalties from “renewal” seed harvests. Renewal crops are those that have been planted using seed from the previous year’s harvest. Monsanto disagrees, demanding royalties from any crop generation produced from its genetically-engineered seed. Because the engineered seed is patented, Monsanto not only charges an initial royalty on the sale of the crop produced, but a continuing two per cent royalty on every subsequent crop, even if the farmer is using a later generation of seed.

The first transgenic soy seeds were illegally smuggled into Brazil from neighboring Argentina in 1998 and their use was banned and subject to prosecution until the last decade, according to the state-owned Brazilian Enterprise for Agricultural Research (EMBRAPA).The ban has since been lifted and now 85 percent of the country’s soybean crop (25 million hectares or 62 million acres) is genetically modified, Alexandre Cattelan, an EMBRAPA researcher told Merco Press. Brazil is the world’s second largest producer and exporter of soyabean. China is one of its biggest buyers.

“Monsanto gets paid when it sell the seeds. The law gives producers the right to multiply the seeds they buy and nowhere in the world is there a requirement to pay (again). Producers are in effect paying a private tax on production,” Jane Berwanger, lawyer for the farmers told the media agencies.

  • Michael

    A lot of this info isn’t properly sourced, especially not the picture, which is clearly Photoshopped. Visual arguments often change more minds than verbal ones, and for there to not be a source for the picture is risky business if your trying to not stoop to the enemies level of propaganda. i get that it may be photoshopped to make a point, but it should be open and available for people to know that it is photoshopped before people start believing your website is spreading disinformation.

  • Kevin Zeese

    Thanks for the point about the photo — we’re changing it.

  • Janelle Corral

    The photo represents a sentiment. Too bad it has to come off. The headline caught my eye and I read the article. I completely see your point though, I just think our sense of fairness sometimes gets in our own way.

  • Seeds do not sprout generation after generation because of Monsanto greed. They did not invent regeneration. Monsanto’s control over living forces and processes will not stand in this 21st century. A few judges will be duped, but the people are smarter than that.

  • Michael

    werdskis. and like i said, i get if it was just a visual argument thing. good to know, from my stand point, that people can decide to take others opinions and give them a thought before dismissing them all together. thanks for keepin’ my convictions in popular resistance!

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  • Liz

    This is one of the disturbing points of the patented GMO seed saga.Embapa is now spreading it’s system via ProSavana in Africa with massive landgrabs & imposed GMO crop production.Biotech companies have imposed themselves post occupation through law on farmers in Iraq.Very serious situation on unsuspecting people.

  • Fantastic, maybe some cases of Cancer will disappear when we get healthy food to eat,instead of Biotech food

  • babkat

    It would be beneficial just to not use the Monsanto’s GMO seeds and use non-patented GMO seeds instead like it used to be.

  • babkat

    GMOs is a marketing scam. We don’t need them. It doesn’t increase yield but decreases nutrition and causes havoc on the our health and the environment. Traditional organic multicrop agriculture actually produces more food than monocrop gmo agriculture.

  • Iguana

    And the need for liver and kidney transplants will go down as well. These seeds are making us die off early. Some European companies will not grow Monsanto seed anymore.

  • Gerry Gray

    When you buy a seed for farming its yours. Money in exchange for seed.
    When you buy a John Deer tractor, the components are owned by John Deer.
    However the components are owned by the consumer once the tractor is purchases. If the Tractor gets old and you want to sell the parts there is no need to send a check to John Deer. You simply sell the parts. The money gained is yours to keep. End of Story.