Planting

Farmers saving genetically modified seeds from previous harvests for future planting are being tracked down by former police officers for the world’s second largest seed company, DuPont, according to a recent Bloomberg.com article.

According to Bloomberg, Randy Schlatter, a DuPont senior manager said the company is actively seeking out evidence of farmers saving Roundup Ready soybean seeds (designed to tolerate Monsanto’s Roundup pesticide), a practice not permitted per the sales contracts by DuPont and other biotech seed manufacturers.

DuPont has hired a private firm to inspect fields in Canada and the U.S. Inspection firms typically employ former police officers, who are not intended to intimidate farmers, the company told Bloomberg, but rather, “trying to create deterrence.”

The practice of tracking down—and bringing charges against—farmers in violation of the company’s seed saving rules, has been enforced by Monsanto for years, with legal action brought against more than 140 farmers since 1997. But, Monsanto’s patent is expiring on its seeds and the company is reportedly moving its focus onto new seeds with new patents. “That leaves DuPont to play the bad guy, enforcing alternative patents so cheaper “illegal beans” don’t get planted,” according to Bloomberg.

Prohibiting farmers from seed saving—a practice as old as agriculture—is one of the biggest criticisms of the biotech industry besides the human health concerns. Farmers have been ordered to pay Monsanto—a company with more than $13 billion in revenue last year—millions of dollars in restitution. The company has also come under scrutiny over royalties collected on future harvests. Recently, 5 million Brazilian farmers sued Monsanto over what they claim are unfair and excessive royalty fees.

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Image: ïCliff