Really, Monsanto?

We try to be careful consumers of information, and link out to stories that match our interests and have relevant factual content.  Not everything that every government says passes the “truthiness” test, but we are reflexively interested in the views and findings of a group like this:

PEER is a national non-profit alliance of local, state and federal scientists, law enforcement officers, land managers and other professionals dedicated to upholding environmental laws and values.

Reflexive does not mean blindly accepting of everything they say, but we are inclined to pay attention to scientific findings related to the environment.  When they raise issues like this related to wildlife refuges then the inclination transforms into something stronger and more urgent:

The Obama administration has endorsed genetically engineered agriculture on more than 50 National Wildlife Refuges, with more GE-refuge approvals in the works, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The new plan is designed to insulate refuges from environmental court challenges in the wake of a lawsuit recently won by PEER and other groups which halted GE agriculture in all Northeastern refuges.

The national blitz of official filings is intended to remove a perceived barrier to the export of American GE crops – U.S. restrictions on growing GE crops on National Wildlife Refuges. Under a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS operates the refuges) policy, GE crops are banned from refuges unless determined to be “essential” to refuge operations. Countries leery of importing U.S. bio-engineered food have cited the policy as one basis for their concern.

Obviously “the government” is not always on the “correct” side of an issue from our perspective; sometimes it is divided, or at least has dissenters within its own ranks.  The same is true in the private sector, where one company or one industry group might be pitted against another in the same general sector.  The same reflexes are at work with our interest in food-related issues as with environmental issues.  Some industry associations, such as those representing small scale farmers, seed growers and distributors, seem worth listening to even when big companies like Monsanto are legal victors over their association members:

Monsanto’s history of aggressive investigations and lawsuits brought against farmers in America have been a source of concern for organic and non-GMO farmers since Monsanto’s first lawsuit brought against a farmer in the mid-90′s. Since then, 144 farmers have had lawsuits brought against them by Monsanto for alleged violations of  their patented seed technology.  Monsanto has brought charges against more than 700 additional farmers who have settled out-of-court rather than face Monsanto’s belligerent litigious actions. Many of these farmers claim to not have had the intention to grow or save seeds that contain Monsanto’s patented genes. Seed drift and pollen drift from genetically engineered crops often contaminate neighboring fields. If Monsanto’s seed technology is found on a farmer’s land without contract they can be found liable for patent infringement.

The truthiness test, applied to this particular fight, is not obvious. We can strongly oppose the Obama administration’s endorsement of genetically engineered agriculture in wildlife refuges but still not oppose all genetically engineered agriculture.  Likewise, while Monsanto may have the right to pursue its technological and large scale approach to agriculture, we can hope that there is a David to respond to its Goliath litigiousness.

5 thoughts on “Really, Monsanto?

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