13 votes

We still haven’t properly reckoned with Monsanto’s destruction

27 comments

  1. [27]
    Rocket_Man
    Link
    This is an interesting topic, but as with most things involving Monsanto seems to be in bad faith. Which is dissapointing because people need to reconcile our history of herbicide, pesticide, and...

    This is an interesting topic, but as with most things involving Monsanto seems to be in bad faith. Which is dissapointing because people need to reconcile our history of herbicide, pesticide, and GMO use quickly. These technologies will have to move forward but people get stuck up on the most frivolous points.

    9 votes
    1. [22]
      vord
      Link Parent
      Could you elaborate? Because none of the topics brought up seem remotely off-base. I personally take three major issues with Monsanto: They sell both herbicide and herbicide-resistant crops. It's...

      This is an interesting topic, but as with most things involving Monsanto seems to be in bad faith

      Could you elaborate? Because none of the topics brought up seem remotely off-base.

      I personally take three major issues with Monsanto:

      • They sell both herbicide and herbicide-resistant crops. It's like if tobacco companies were able to sell both cigarettes and a treatment for lung cancer.
      • DNA should not be able to patented or copywritten. Gathering seeds from Monsanto crops for reuse should be the norm, not illegal. See also: Glo-fish
      • Monsanto is a monopoly, which brings with it all sorts of monopoly problems

      Paired with the Perdue study linked in the article, it seems Monsanto's primary justification for existence is a good bit weaker.

      My favorite part is how weeds are also starting to develop herbicide resistance the same way bacteria resists antibiotics.

      6 votes
      1. [4]
        inwardpath
        Link Parent
        I agree with your points. To explain why people see Monsanto mentions in bad faith, I think a lot of people (including myself at one point) were/are very reactive to mentions of Monsanto, whether...

        I agree with your points. To explain why people see Monsanto mentions in bad faith, I think a lot of people (including myself at one point) were/are very reactive to mentions of Monsanto, whether justified or not. While I am no fan of Monsanto, for the reasons you mentioned, I do think unfortunately some prior works (documentaries, articles, etc) about Monsanto exaggerated claims or came to poorly-supported conclusions. When Monsanto was heavy in the zeitgeist for a while, it became a very polarizing discussion, regardless of the evidence. As a watcher of one of the documentaries, I quickly became an outspoken opponent of Monsanto in discussions online. Later on I learned that at least some of what I was led to believe was not true, or only had a kernel of truth. This doesn't absolve Monsanto but may explain how mention of them can quickly polarize.

        • The discussion of RoundUp being extremely dangerous for anyone to use (even spray bottles for one's garden), when so far the evidence leans towards closer to industrial/larger scale exposure over prolonged periods of time being the real danger. Though I admit if it's dangerous in the larger amounts, then it potentially could still raise one's risk when using it at a small scale, although that risk increase is likely to be smaller also

        • The seed propagation stories/myths (see Loire's comment).

        But regardless of these points- they're kinda moot when we consider the overall travesty that is the idea that seeds can be patented in the first place- and the other points you mention.

        6 votes
        1. [3]
          vord
          Link Parent
          I'll also toss out that while a few small sprays of RoundUp probably aren't bad in your garden....they kinda add up in aggregate when they hit the water supply.

          I'll also toss out that while a few small sprays of RoundUp probably aren't bad in your garden....they kinda add up in aggregate when they hit the water supply.

          4 votes
          1. [2]
            streblo
            Link Parent
            Just FYI: glyphosate binds with dirt and very likely becomes inert long before it hits the water supply.

            Just FYI: glyphosate binds with dirt and very likely becomes inert long before it hits the water supply.

            4 votes
      2. [4]
        TemulentTeatotaler
        Link Parent
        Only if there's anything at all analogous between herbicides/herbicide-resistant crops and lung cancer. Sports Authority selling boxing gloves and headgear isn't malicious unless you're importing...

        They sell both herbicide and herbicide-resistant crops. It's like if tobacco companies were able to sell both cigarettes and a treatment for lung cancer.

        Only if there's anything at all analogous between herbicides/herbicide-resistant crops and lung cancer. Sports Authority selling boxing gloves and headgear isn't malicious unless you're importing your own views of boxing as a problematic sport.

        Paired with the Perdue study linked in the article

        I'm having a hard time understanding what is in any way damning about that study. It calls modern farming a miracle:

        The second “miracle” of corn grain yield improvement began in the mid-1950’s in response to continued improvements in genetic yield potential and stress tolerance plus increased adoption of N fertilizer, chemical pesticides, and agricultural mechanization

        ...that has led to a steady increase in yields to where we're producing over 8x as much per acre compared to the 1930s:

        The GOOD NEWS is that corn grain yields in the U.S. have been steadily increasing since the 1950’s at almost 2 bushels per acre per year.

        With the "bad news" being that there hasn't been a 3rd revolution in farming techniques that was hoped for. Instead there has been steady progress and traits that:

        ...simply protect the inherent yield potential of modern hybrids while potentially reducing farmers’ reliance on chemical pesticides.

        5 votes
        1. [3]
          NoblePath
          Link Parent
          I think you might take note of the quotes around the word “miracle” in tfa before pronouncing that the study actually concludes that Modern farming is, in fact, miraculous. Further more, soil loss...

          Perdue study

          I think you might take note of the quotes around the word “miracle” in tfa before pronouncing that the study actually concludes that Modern farming is, in fact, miraculous.

          Further more, soil loss and other factors are leading to a leveling off of crop yields around the world.

          1 vote
          1. [2]
            TemulentTeatotaler
            Link Parent
            If you have a problem with how I characterized the contents of the study say why. No, the author didn't literally think a "miracle" occurred. Yes, they used "miracle" as a positive term to...

            If you have a problem with how I characterized the contents of the study say why. No, the author didn't literally think a "miracle" occurred. Yes, they used "miracle" as a positive term to describe a paradigm shift in corn yield improvement.

            soil loss

            There are a lot of concerns with modern farming. The future of petroleum fertilizers, impact on wildlife, risk of Gros Michel-esque monoculture collapse, etc.

            leveling off

            You linked a study saying projected increases in yield are insufficient to meet projected demands (needing 2x the yield by 2050). Their projection for increased yield looks pretty steady, so unless I'm missing something I'm not sure what point you're trying to make.

            From the results section:

            The global average rates of yield increase across ∼13,500 political units are 1.6%, 1.0%, 0.9%, and 1.3% per year for maize, rice, wheat, and soybean, respectively (Table 1, Figure 1). A ∼2.4% per year rate of yield gains (non-compounding) is needed to double crop production by 2050. Current rates are thus not achieving this goal. At current rates only ∼67%, ∼42%, ∼38%, and ∼55% increases in maize, rice, wheat and soybean production, respectively, is possible by 2050.

            The original article was deceptive. We've consistently seen the fastest improvements in farming productivity that has ever been done for 70+ years. There's some weird entitlement to thinking that we should naturally be able to double the yield/acre in 30 years. Moore's Law eventually hits a dead end for transistor size and you hope there's another paradigm to shift to to keep the trend, but eventually you're trying to get milk from a stone. Reality doesn't owe us indefinite progress.

            If we do get a 3rd paradigm shift the current best hope is genetics. That doesn't have to be an improvement in yield/acre to meet the end goal of feeding people.

            It could be improving the shelf life or aesthetics of crops to reduce waste (e.g., arctic apples). It could be increased tolerance to climate that increases arable land. Or nitrogen fixing to reduce dependence on fertilizer, improving the efficiency of photosynthesis, or dozens of other things that are possible through genetics.

            5 votes
            1. NoblePath
              Link Parent
              Pretty sure I did exactly that. Also from the study I linked:

              If you have a problem with how I characterized the contents of the study say why

              Pretty sure I did exactly that.

              Also from the study I linked:

              Yields are no longer improving on 24–39% of our most important cropland areas

              1 vote
      3. [13]
        babypuncher
        Link Parent
        I'm split on this. If I spend millions of dollars genetically engineering a plant with unique properties and sell one plant at a higher cost than the market rate for its non-GMO cousin, what is to...

        DNA should not be able to patented or copywritten. Gathering seeds from Monsanto crops for reuse should be the norm, not illegal. See also: Glo-fish

        I'm split on this. If I spend millions of dollars genetically engineering a plant with unique properties and sell one plant at a higher cost than the market rate for its non-GMO cousin, what is to stop the buyer of that plant from turning around and selling it for a price at which I could not realistically compete with while recouping my initial investment?

        I do think IP laws and protections are generally too expansive, and need to be approached differently for varying categories (software patents in particular are often very asinine, and copyright terms are way too long). But the idea that some inventions should have no protection period simply because they self-replicate by natural processes does not seem quite right to me. The reality is, these GMO crops probably would not exist if Monsanto could not expect to make a reasonable return on their investment.

        1 vote
        1. [12]
          vord
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          I never buy into the 'but progress only happens because someone will profit from it.' Humans are curious and love solving problems. The foundations of GMO crops were not developed at a company....

          The reality is, these GMO crops probably would not exist if Monsanto could not expect to make a reasonable return on their investment.

          I never buy into the 'but progress only happens because someone will profit from it.' Humans are curious and love solving problems.

          The foundations of GMO crops were not developed at a company. Somebody would have invented GMO crops without Monsanto for the same reason people search for the cure for cancer.

          I'd wager we lose far more advancements than we gain by needing all of them to conform to the profit-driven model. Freeing innovation and research from the clutches of capital will only be a positive in the long run.

          It's already kind of the case...more novel inventions and discoveries spawn from academia. Academia functions better when it's not being like a business that needs to balance their accounts.

          3 votes
          1. [8]
            Comment deleted by author
            Link Parent
            1. vord
              (edited )
              Link Parent
              I think the crux of the disagreement on these issues boil down to everyone interpreting "We don't need capital for innovation" as synonomous with "We'll never have advanced chip labs or clinical...

              I think the crux of the disagreement on these issues boil down to everyone interpreting "We don't need capital for innovation" as synonomous with "We'll never have advanced chip labs or clinical trials again"

              There's a happy medium in there, and generally it involves publicly (and properly) funding research and distributing it freely.

              The reason I mention academia: They have a well-established model for setting up advanced research and development. Many universities are public, non-profit organizations.

              Industry's innovations spawn from academia, if only because that's where they learned the knowlege to do so. They move out into the private sector mostly because it's the primary option.

              The main idea of all this is to dismantle a competitive mindset and replace with a cooperative one.

              2 votes
            2. [6]
              Gaywallet
              Link Parent
              I don't really like when people make this argument because the FDA is well known for acting incredibly slowly and requiring much more out of human trials than most of the rest of the world. Sure,...

              It costs about $1-2 billion to get a new drug to market on average in the U.S., counting all the failures, regulatory hurdles and clinical trials.

              I don't really like when people make this argument because the FDA is well known for acting incredibly slowly and requiring much more out of human trials than most of the rest of the world. Sure, it happened to work out well for Thalidomide, but hasn't resulted in any major 'wins' since. Other first world countries such as European nations have a whole bunch of drugs that still haven't been approved in the US because it's either too expensive to get them approved (read: not profitable enough) or because the FDA's process is simply too burdensome. Furthermore they are not adaptive to newer techniques such as crossover design which have a number of important benefits over more traditional drug trials. It is important to mention that drugs are expensive and take a lot of time, capital, and manpower to bring to fruition but a combination of a government which does not fund medical research as much as it used to and a government which has repeatedly failed to keep up with modern techniques is a bigger part of the problem than the cost itself. It's also important to note that the large pharmaceutical companies actively and regularly lobby to keep things the way they are, so they can continue to stifle competition and innovation in the sector because it is in their financial interest.

              2 votes
              1. [5]
                rosco
                Link Parent
                If I can piggy-back off your comment, while it is true that the FDA is know for acting slowly, their are a slew of agencies that hand out an incredible amount of funding specifically for...

                If I can piggy-back off your comment, while it is true that the FDA is know for acting slowly, their are a slew of agencies that hand out an incredible amount of funding specifically for innovation development and testing. I think what is often left out of the conversation is that the FDA works in cooperation with these agencies (ie. USDA, NIH, NASA...) with the main goal of having these products and companies to succeed. Read the mission statement for the USDA and you'll see they go to bat specifically for this type of innovation:

                We have a vision to provide economic opportunity through innovation, helping rural America to thrive; to promote agriculture production that better nourishes Americans while also helping feed others throughout the world; and to preserve our Nation's natural resources through conservation, restored forests, improved watersheds, and healthy private working lands.

                I'm not saying that the FDA isn't slow or careful, but their are other mechanism in government that help overcome these hurdles including funding them. The USDA will often pay for the research for initial discovery, the infrastructure to scale the operation, and the FDA studies to be conducted. The cost to most of these companies is strictly sales and marketing. I have a small research company that works in a different field, but all of our risky R&D is funded through government grants and private capital just helps us take it to market.

                I truly believe the federal government gets a bad reputation for being inefficient when in reality all of the great, innovative products that actually make your life better were undoubtably funded by some agency within the fed. I don't know as much about how this works out with pharmaceutical and the NIH, but I would be surprised if this wasn't a priority for them as well.

                3 votes
                1. [4]
                  Gaywallet
                  Link Parent
                  You're right, but I like to put things into perspective. As was stated earlier, it can often cost around $1b to bring a drug to fruition in the united states. According to this report on the NIH...

                  You're right, but I like to put things into perspective. As was stated earlier, it can often cost around $1b to bring a drug to fruition in the united states. According to this report on the NIH they invest roughly 80% of their budget into research. In 2021 their budget was ~$42b which means 33.6b went to research. Even if 100% of this went into drugs, that's only 15-33 drugs to reach market in a year, assuming each drug gets enough funding to actually reach the market. In contrast, total US pharmaceutical R&D spending is somewhere around twice that amount of funding and is bolstered by federal grants. In reality what often happens is that some of the drug development happens by smaller companies which are then bought out by larger pharmaceutical companies which can provide the capital to bring a promising drug to market... or rather in most cases, continue to bring it along the path of research to get to market - many of these drugs never finish human trials but that's okay when you have funding like big pharma does; you just buy a bunch of promising drugs and so long as one of them works out you're set to acquire in batches.

                  In general, Federal research and development as a share of GDP has decreased significantly since the 60s. Interestingly the NIH funding as a share of GDP (see fig. 3) hasn't significantly changed. While funding across the government has generally declined with the easing of taxes, we still spend roughly 20 times as much on military spending as we do on health research and I think there's a lot of opportunity to improve.


                  What I find problematic about the situation that we've created is that it sets up incentives for only very specific kinds of drugs to reach market. It's still far too expensive to bring a drug to market that is not profitable, but provides a public good. With such a high cost to hit the market and so little funding actually available, most drug research companies that aren't giant pharmaceutical companies can only get so far and the usual pathway to success involves, as you said, a necessary 'private capital' step to take it to market. When private capital is necessary, a drug's profitability is the only real important characteristic. This leads to a cornucopia of problems.

                  Drugs which are cheap to manufacture can be artificially inflated in price (remember Martin Shkreli?), which is good to get access to funding but bad for public health. Drugs which are too effective and cure disease states which are currently managed instead of cured can be discouraged, depending on how widely spread a disease state is. Drugs which target rare diseases aren't particularly profitable because the number of people you can treat is low and the drug may not pay back the cost of development. Drugs which could compete in a marketplace can be de-incentivized depending on who has access to capital and whether they already have offerings in said marketplace or determine it's too difficult to enter this space. There's many more factors, but I think there's a lot of factors which can be improved by lowering the cost to entry and providing more funding to medical and drug research.

                  3 votes
                  1. [3]
                    rosco
                    Link Parent
                    All great points! You're right there is definitely nuance in regulation vs funding. Often I find that most folks believe in capitalism as the driver for progress and wanted to point out how much...

                    All great points! You're right there is definitely nuance in regulation vs funding. Often I find that most folks believe in capitalism as the driver for progress and wanted to point out how much public funding is really at the heart of innovation.

                    I'd be interested to hear how you believe a more deregulated process (I could be misunderstanding, possibly just streamlined?) would play out in the real world. I feel like my interaction with rolling back regulations, be it with polluters and oil/gas, often leads the companies with considerable capital able to manipulate the new negotiation itself or find externalities to exploit within the new regulations. I'm not saying there shouldn't be change, but I understand the hesitancy to remove old safeguards already in place.

                    I work in an industry closer to resource management and while I don't know much about the pharmaceutical industry it sounds like there is a hybrid of the oversight we both experience happening in agriculture. Some of the pollution/effluent issues I deal with and the health impacts you deal with. I am curious what the FDA oversight and validation process is like for something like a Monsanto GMO crop development and approval. Thanks for the insights!

                    2 votes
                    1. [2]
                      Gaywallet
                      (edited )
                      Link Parent
                      Ah yes, apologies, I don't think the process should be less regulated, I think the regulations need to catch up with the times. The section titled 'adaptive approaches' in this paper talks about...

                      Ah yes, apologies, I don't think the process should be less regulated, I think the regulations need to catch up with the times. The section titled 'adaptive approaches' in this paper talks about some of the ways in which trials can be designed, from the outset, to be more robust and require smaller sample sizes. As I mentioned earlier, crossover design is another commonly employed modern study design which can make drugs cheaper and easier to bring to market. While both of these have a place in current drug to market pipelines, the FDA is a bit more restrictive in what passes muster of their reviews. They have lengthy and detailed documents which don't necessarily enforce a specific kind of trial design, but heavily favor certain designs because whether something gets approved or not depends on how it stacks up to the guidance papers. In the EMA, by contrast, there are multiple pipelines in how a drug can come to market because it may come to market through a single member of the EU or multiple members at the same time, through commercial or non-commercial means. The FDA doesn't have the same kind of flexibility. With that being said the EMA and FDA do work with each other a lot and its rare the two have different findings on any one specific drug, but I think all of the processes can be improved by being slightly more adaptable to newer techniques. I personally think a regular review of acceptable trial designs should be concluded yearly and a committee should be formed of scientists who specialize in trial design and statistics to give recommendations to the scientific communities on these points.

                      1 vote
                      1. rosco
                        Link Parent
                        Thanks for the explanation, it sounds like so many of the 'validation' protocols across industries. I agree there does need to be change. To your point it feels like traditional safe bets are...

                        Thanks for the explanation, it sounds like so many of the 'validation' protocols across industries. I agree there does need to be change. To your point it feels like traditional safe bets are given priority over fresh, potentially more impactful prospects.

                        1 vote
          2. [4]
            babypuncher
            Link Parent
            We are, but even the most curious of us are not likely to plunk down the tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars it takes to innovate in many of these spaces. Nobody is inventing the next big...

            I never buy into the 'but progress only happens because someone will profit from it.' Humans are curious and love solving problems.

            We are, but even the most curious of us are not likely to plunk down the tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars it takes to innovate in many of these spaces. Nobody is inventing the next big leap in display technology or semiconductor fabrication in their garage. It takes hundreds or thousands of people working full time to design these things and they all need to eat.

            2 votes
            1. [3]
              wervenyt
              Link Parent
              This line of argument is never productive. Leftists have their position, liberals and conservatives have theirs, nobody has strong enough evidence to convince one another. Either way, you're...

              This line of argument is never productive. Leftists have their position, liberals and conservatives have theirs, nobody has strong enough evidence to convince one another.

              Either way, you're ignoring their actual argument by saying "people [...] need to eat". Conflation of profiteering and workers surviving is at best reductionism.

              3 votes
              1. [2]
                babypuncher
                Link Parent
                I'm a pretty die hard liberal. I'm just not under the illusion that people would design and build $150m semiconductor fabs without profit motive. Simply killing off IP laws would be a disaster. We...

                I'm a pretty die hard liberal. I'm just not under the illusion that people would design and build $150m semiconductor fabs without profit motive. Simply killing off IP laws would be a disaster. We would first need a radical fundamental change in the way our economy works in order to maintain technological progress in such a world, and I don't think most people are ready for that.

                3 votes
                1. wervenyt
                  Link Parent
                  Yeah, and that difference of worldview, whether that fundamental change is good/necessary, is generally my point. You haven't changed anyone's mind be repeating the same arguments they've all...

                  Yeah, and that difference of worldview, whether that fundamental change is good/necessary, is generally my point. You haven't changed anyone's mind be repeating the same arguments they've all heard before (because there are no better ones). You either believe in some form of revolutionary economics, or you don't, as it stands. Someone's opinion on the fundamental nature of human motivation is built out of their entire life experience, not some transcendent moment of rationality, let alone short form online argumentation.

                  PS To be clear, I am not arguing for the cessation of political debate and discussion, but this particular line of "humans need profit motive to organize" vs "humans naturally want to do good for others" is a ridiculously large discussion when you break each position down into its elements. It's not even a matter of open mindedness or learning, it's a debate on the scale of spiritual/religious beliefs.

                  1 vote
    2. [3]
      NoblePath
      Link Parent
      When you are talking about a company who sued a farmer whose field sprouted monsanto seeds after they propagated, via no action by that farmer, from a neighboring field, I’m not sure “bad faith”...

      When you are talking about a company who sued a farmer whose field sprouted monsanto seeds after they propagated, via no action by that farmer, from a neighboring field, I’m not sure “bad faith” is possible.

      4 votes
      1. [2]
        Loire
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Generally a myth of sorts: [Does Monsanto sue Farmers that Unknowingly Grow GM Plants?] With that said I'm sure at some point, somewhere in the world, Monsanto legal has sued a farmer that was...
        • Exemplary

        Generally a myth of sorts:

        Anti-GMO activists regularly claim that Monsanto sues farmers who have accidently reused seeds or found their farms inadvertently “contaminated” by GE seeds. That’s not true. Monsanto does sue farmers who use its seeds without licensing agreements. Arguably, the most famous of these cases was against Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser, whose story was the focus of the conspiracy-theory-laden documentary “David versus Monsanto”. Schmeiser discovered that his field had been contaminated with Monsanto’s Roundup Ready canola seeds when the land segments surrounding utility poles was sprayed with Roundup. He then admittedly used the seeds from areas where he sprayed with Roundup to replant the following year’s crops.

        Schmeiser’s legal team for the federal court case argued that by releasing the gene into the environment in an uncontrolled manner, Monsanto had lost or waived their rights to an exclusive patent. The judge’s decision concluded that Schmeiser’s arguments defy all evidence. , Witnesses testified that Monsanto removed “plants from fields of other farmers who complained of undesired spread of Roundup Ready canola to their fields.” The judge also found that the level of contamination that had been detected in Schmeiser’s fields through various tests could not be attributed to birds/bees/wind alone. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, which ruled in favor of Monsanto. However, its decision was not unanimous. Canadian law excludes patents on higher life forms, and several of the Justices were of the opinion that Monsanto’s patent is enforceable over the cell or gene but not over the plant and its offspring, which is what Schmeiser had “used”.

        The biggest court case in the United States between a grower and agricultural biotech company was Bowman vs Monsanto. Bowman is a farmer from Indiana who, according to the court documents, “appreciates Roundup Ready soybean seed”. He bought Monsanto’s seeds and planted them for the first crop of the season. However, for the second and more risky crop of the season, he bought seeds intended for human or animal consumption from a grain elevator and planted these in his field. He then applied a glyphosate-based herbicide, effectively ensuring that the entire crop consisted of Roundup Ready soy plants. Monsanto discovered this practice and sued Bowman.

        The basis of Bowman’s defense was patent exhaustion, meaning that once someone has sold a patented item, they no longer control that item and the new owner can do whatever he/she would like with it. The District Court rejected Bowman’s argument, and the Federal Court affirmed it, yet the case made its way to the US Supreme Court. Before reaching its verdict, the Supreme Court received briefs from numerous organizations describing the impact that their ruling would have, including software, biotech and research companies, and economists.

        The court gave its unanimous verdict in 2013 stating that patent exhaustion applies only to the item sold, and that the buyer cannot replicate the item. Their opinion states that if purchasers of items were to be able to make endless copies, then the patent would be effective only for the first sale (which is actually the idea behind the Wu-Tang Clan’s latest album). As such, Bowman could have sold the beans he purchased from the elevator grain, or he could have eaten them or fed them to animals. The Supreme Court’s opinion states that by planting the beans, he effectively replicated Monsanto’s patent and the patent exhaustion principle does not apply in this scenario.

        [Does Monsanto sue Farmers that Unknowingly Grow GM Plants?]

        At issue was Monsanto’s promise, displayed on its website, to never sue a farmer whose fields have been (unknowingly) contaminated by its seeds. It isn’t a law. It isn’t something that it had sworn to under oath, and at the end of the day, its statement could be false advertising or a PR gimmick. In back-and-forths between lawyers, Monsanto wrote that it has no reason to go after farmers for low level contamination because there’s no financial incentive, and that if the growers/farmers don’t intend to use/sell transgenic seeds, then their fear of a lawsuit is unreasonable. The judge threw out the case based on the fact that “these circumstances do not amount to a substantial controversy and . . . there has been no injury traceable to defendants”.

        https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2018/06/01/dissecting-claims-about-monsanto-suing-farmers-for-accidentally-planting-patented-seeds/

        With that said I'm sure at some point, somewhere in the world, Monsanto legal has sued a farmer that was unknowingly contaminated. It's just not the big thing people make it out to be.

        16 votes
        1. NoblePath
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          Oh boy! Yet another of my sophomoric stances revealed.(1) I see that there is more nuance than I had first anticipated, and after reading through the wikipedia on the subject, I'm left suspecting...

          Oh boy! Yet another of my sophomoric stances revealed.(1)

          I see that there is more nuance than I had first anticipated, and after reading through the wikipedia on the subject, I'm left suspecting that these farmers actually do believe that the monsanto seeds + glyphosphate application is the superior production modality and they are just trying to avoid paying for it and got caught.

          But despite my myopic indignation and tendancy toward agrarian romanticism, there is something fundamentally wrong here, and not all the decisions were decided by unanimous decision; the Canadian Supreme Court decision was a 5-4 split.

          What's fundamentally wrong is the balances among incentive, control, growth, and private and public benefit.

          That commercial law (including patent law) would so strongly favor the non-reuse of seeds forever is a very wrong public interest outcome. More specifically in this case, it requires the combination of seeds, puchased only from Monsanto, plus glyphosphate, purchased only from Monsanto. And glyphospahte which has its own hefty share of public costs. I don't know, but I suspect that some significant amount of research and tools at play in the development of these seeds was publically funded, and yet Monsanto claims all of the profit.

          Another thing that irks me about this system is how strongly it favors near-term thinking and very large market participants. From a 5-year or so output perspective, monsanto seeds + pesticide produces more crop output per acre than any other way of growing. But the increased cost from this sort of operation requires a certain degree of scale to realize enough profit to keep the operation going. I suspect that if all the externalized costs of monsanto production were priced in, other, more ecosystem-gentle productions would become price/yield competitive, especially the further out we push the time horizon.

          I need to think more deeply about what, precisely, I think is wrong here, but I feel it pretty deeply. It feels fundamentally at odds with the way the universe works, or at least how ecology works, which would mean that there are some high costs that are spread far, and wide, and among people who do not benefit and can ill afford them.

          With apologies for the random structure, there is one issue needs noting. Government is essentially using its power to impose near-criminal liability on non-contracting participants. Some of the farmer defendants did not purchase either seed or herbicide from Monsanto, and so are under no contractual relationship (called "privity" for the legalese-savvy) with Monsanto. It seems to me that under principles of justice, the seller should have some liability, but not the purchaser, unless the purchaser really knew they were buying seeds they weren't supposed to and intentionally bought the seeds to help the upstream participant participate from the seeds improperly.

          (1)This is not an ironic or sarcastic statement. It doesn't exactly feel good, but I do really appreciate finding weak spots like this.

          Edit: Appaprently, the EU falls further toward the user(farmer) friendly end of the spectrum. curia.europa.eu

          7 votes
    3. post_below
      Link Parent
      I'm curious what you mean by the topic being in bad faith?

      I'm curious what you mean by the topic being in bad faith?

      2 votes