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[SANET-MG] Schmeiser and volunteer rr canola
From GM WATCH daily
1.Roundup back in Schmeiser field
2.Misleading claims about Schmeiser
There's a snide aspect to the reporting here about Schmeiser that's
maybe not so surprising given the story's farm press source. It's
perhaps worth quoting what the University of Guelph agronomist E. Ann
Clark has said about the Schmeiser case.
"To all the farmers and farm organizations that applauded the
prosecution of Schmeiser two years ago, and have since sat back and
watched him swinging in the wind waiting for judgment:
a. he was not found guilty of brown bagging or improperly buying or
stealing Monsanto seed - indeed, those highly publicized allegations
were dropped at the actual hearing stage due to a complete lack of
b. he was found guilty of having Monsanto genetics on his land,
c. it's doubtful whether there's a farm anywhere in western Canada that
does not have Monsanto Roundup Ready canola seed in its soil,
d. if you have it, you are to call Monsanto and they are to come out
and deal with it. How, pray tell, are they going to do this - by
plucking out the offending plants one by one - for up to 10 years after
each contamination event occurred (canola seed can remain dormant under
western Canadian conditions including no-till) - during which time you
are disallowed from growing canola because if you do, and volunteer
Monsanto canola emerges, sets seed, and shatters, it all starts over again?"
1.Roundup back in Schmeiser field
Western Producer, October 28, 2005
via Crop Biotechnology News
He is as persistent as the Roundup Ready canola that keeps appearing in
Percy Schmeiser is back in the news, threatening to file a lawsuit
against his nemesis, Monsanto Canada.
The Bruno, Sask., farmer, who lost a high-profile legal battle against
the biotech company that made it to the Supreme Court of Canada, is
butting heads with Monsanto again over Roundup Ready plants on his land.
Schmeiser, who is prohibited by the courts from growing Monsanto's
genetically modified canola, contacted the firm in late September about
volunteer plants that he said had invaded his 50-acre, chemical-fallow
"It's almost identical to how my field was contaminated in 1998," said
the farmer, who travels the world speaking about his fight with Monsanto.
According to the 2004 Supreme Court ruling, 95 to 98 percent of the
1,000 acres of canola Schmeiser grew in 1998 comprised Roundup Ready
plants he knowingly cultivated.
Schmeiser, who has never admitted to planting brown bag seed despite
being found guilty by three different courts of violating Monsanto's
patent, claimed this latest incident parallels what happened seven years
"If I would have seeded canola I could have had another lawsuit on my
hands," he said.
On Sept. 21 he called Monsanto and requested that the company remove the
Monsanto responded to Schmeiser's call by sending a team of
investigators to his farm where they confirmed Roundup Ready canola was
growing in his field.
Despite reservations about the claim, the company offered to hand pick
the offending plants from the field once Schmeiser signed a legal
release that all farmers with unexpected volunteer plants are asked to
The document forever releases Monsanto from any lawsuits associated with
their products and forbids the grower from disclosing the terms of the
For Schmeiser, that was too much.
"I flatly refused to sign any release that would take my freedom of
speech or my rights away."
He doesn't trust the biotech firm that engaged him in a legal battle
that lasted six years.
"They must think I'm absolutely crazy I would ever sign my rights away,"
So on Oct. 21 Schmeiser began removing the plants himself, some of which
were shattering, spreading seeds onto his field. He filled a half-ton
truck with his first clearing attempt.
In a letter to the company, he estimated that damage to his farmland
this year and the next is expected to exceed $50,000. He said he will
send an invoice to Monsanto for the cleanup costs.
Monsanto spokesperson Trish Jordan said the company has done all it is
going to do by offering assistance, which it was under no legal
obligation to do in the first place.
"In this situation it would appear that Mr. Schmeiser is not really
interested in assistance. He's interested in continuing his media
campaign," said Jordan.
She said Schmeiser was treated no differently than any other producer
requesting removal of unexpected Roundup Ready volunteers, despite
"puzzling questions" about this particular situation.
The company's inspectors said the amount and uniformity of the plants
across the 50 acres was not consistent with pollen flow and that it was
highly unusual to have canola flowering in late September.
In a letter to the company dated Sept. 30, Schmeiser countered that the
plants were not uniform, although there were more plants along the side
of the field bordering a grid road, indicating the GM seed could have
blown off trucks or from other farmer's fields. And he said volunteer
canola will emerge any time of the year when soil and climate conditions
2.Misleading claims about Schmeiser
(The following letter was published it in a slighly amended in 'Down to
We were concerned to read in your correspondence column ('Patent
Problem', Down To Earth, Vol 13, No 9, September 14, 2004*), a series of
misleading claims by S Shantharam about gene flow from GM crops and the
case of the Canadian farmer, Percy Schmeiser.
Shantharam claims that GM contamination was not an issue in the
Schmeiser case because, "Court records clearly establish that Schmeiser
had planted gm canola which he had purchased illegally." In fact, the
trial court records establish the exact opposite. Aaron Mitchell, the
lead investigator for Monsanto in the case, told the trial court under
oath that, "We have no proof that anyone sold seed to Mr Schmeiser."
(June 8, 2000, p.87)
When the case later came to the Supreme Court, no reference was made to
any illegal purchase of GM seed by Percy Schmeiser. Of course, the
reason Shantharam is so anxious to explain away the GM seed found on
Percy Schmeiser's farm as the result of a deliberate purchase is because
the most likely alternative is gene contamination from fields operated
by Monsanto licensees, something Shantharam dismisses as "a concoction
of the anti-gm lobby". In fact, gene drift is the only probable
explanation for the GM seed found originally on Schmeiser's farm. No
evidence has been produced to support any credible alternative.
It is also important to note that Schmeiser did not lose his case, as
Shantharam claims, because he "was unable to prove to the court that his
large tract of gm canola owed itself to pollen drift from neighbouring
gm canola fields". He lost because the court decided that he knowingly
replanted the genetically modified seed. Replanting knowingly, the court
ruled, constituted an infringement of Monsanto's patent.
Significantly, however, the Supreme Court also said that farmers
suffering GM contamination without making knowing use of the resultant
seed would NOT be guilty of infringing Monsanto's patent. They also
ruled that only genes, and not the modified plants themselves, are
patentable. Both of these points are substantial losses for Monsanto and
As a former employee of gene giant Syngenta, Shantharam's overlooking of
these important points in the Court's decision is perhaps
understandable. But his letter to you is, nonetheless, significantly
Professor Philip Bereano
University of Washington
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