AS if Pennsylvania doesn’t have enough woes with all the fracking making much of its rural areas unlivable, Erie County farmers are now facing a lawsuit filed by the mega biotech corporation Monsanto for re-planting genetically modified seeds.
Harold Steve Wiser Jr. and Harold V. Wiser violated Monsanto’s licensing agreement according to the claims made by the company by replanting GM Roundup Ready seeds collected from a prior season crop. Harold Steve Wiser Jr. runs the largest wheat operation in the state with more than 50 farms in Erie, Mercer, Crawford and Venango counties throughout Western Pennsylvania.
Monsanto has filed 145 lawsuits since 1997 in efforts to keep farmers from saving seeds. They say the practice violates their federal license agreement, which forces farmers to buy new seeds each growing season directly from Monsanto. The biotech company says the licensing agreement prevents farmers from developing an “unfair advantage” over competing farmers who have legally purchased seeds.
But saving seeds isn’t the only way a farmer can face a lawsuit from Monsanto. Many are concerned over the issue of crop-drift and cross-pollination from neighboring farms using the GM seeds. Monsanto has successfully sued victims of contamination, forcing farmers to forfeit crops if testing shows the presence of genetically modified seeds.
According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, at least 70 percent of processed foods in U.S. supermarkets now contain GM ingredients. 93 percent of soy, 86 percent of corn and 93 percent of cotton and canola planted in the U.S. in 2010 were genetically engineered.
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