It’s been a while since we’ve posted anything about Monsanto, once voted the most evil corporation in the world. Well, now the company is fighting 5 million Brazilian farmers who are suing them for roughly $7.7 billion.
The farmers are claiming Monsanto has been unfairly gathering royalty fees from them. It is alleged that Monsanto is unfairly gathering extra profits each year from “renewal” seed harvests, or crops planted using seed from the previous year’s harvest.
Renewal seeds have been used in farming since ancient times. However, since Monsanto now owns the patent to the genetically modified seed it sells. The company not only wants to charge farmers for the original crop harvested from its seeds, but for a slice of every crop grown thereafter as well. The royalties add up and before you know it, farmers are going out of business.
“Monsanto gets paid when it sells the seeds,” said Jane Berwanger, the farmers’ lawyer, to the Associated Press. “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.”
Apparently this has been happening for quite some time, particularly in poorer nations where farmers are unable to stand up to Monsanto and are committing suicide over the financial ruin they’re left in.
Undoubtedly, more lawsuits will follow. You may remember when Monsanto considered filing an appeal after the company was found guilty of chemical poisoning, so it’s not like it’s going to take a step back easily on these issues. On the plus side, it does sound like more farmers are starting to unite and take action.