Why the #MarchAgainstMonsanto Matters to Conservatives

Until I read this post at the ever-delightful Adrienne’s place, I had never heard of Monsanto.  Never.  I can’t think now how that’s possible, but there you have it.  Anyway, she wrote in part:

This is the company that won’t allow farmers to save seeds.  If a farmer buys  GMO (genetically modified organism) seeds from Monsanto, they must sign an agreement not to save seeds.  I guess that means the farmer is only renting the plants they grow.  By Monsanto’s reasoning, they developed the seed, the farmer buys the seed, grows the plant on his land, but doesn’t really “own” the plant because he can’t use any seed produced.

If you dare to break the agreement, they will squash you like the little bug (no pun intended) they think you are.  Over the years, they have brought lawsuits against many farmers and have generally won.  My guess, and it’s only a guess because I have not read the court cases, is Monsanto won on contract law.  If the farmer signed the contract, then he is bound to uphold the terms.

These GMO seeds are already crossing with non-GMO plants.  I predict, due to my knowledge of hybridization and my life-long gardening, that this will prove to be a disaster in the future.

Imagine, if you will, a world where nothing you grow will produce seed that is usable.  Most hybrid plants will not reproduce true to form.  If you save the seeds from the hybrid tomatoes you purchased at a store and try and grow the seeds the following year, don’t count on eating any tomatoes.

Huh?! A company “owns,” essentially, the rights to food seeds?  How is that even possible?  If anyone else had written this, I would probably have dismissed it as hysteria and hyperbole, but as it was written by someone whom I know not to be given to either hysteria or hyperbole, I thought I better look into it further.

Monsanto is a vast, multi-national corporation that has genetically modified its canola, soy, wheat, and other crop seeds to be resistant to its own RoundUp sprays.  The crops will not die when RoundUp is sprayed to control pests and weeds, and these GMO seeds have been patented by Monsanto.  Pause, digest this: the SEEDS are patented.

Monsanto has also genetically-modified seeds so that even though a plant will produce seeds, they will not germinate (grow); they are modified to self-destruct, in other words.  Seeds, then, must be bought year after year . . . from Monsanto.  Indeed, even if you are a farmer using GMOs that are not “programmed” to self-destruct, you must sign a contract stating that you will not only buy new seeds each year from Monsanto but that you will also pay a “fee” per harvest for the privilege.

On the one hand, this makes a certain amount of business sense if you’re Monsanto, but the problem is that these genetically-modified seeds are contaminating non-GMO seeds that are planted within X number of miles of the patented seeds.  When the GMO seeds travel by wind, insect, bird, or beast to pure, natural-seeded crops, they cross-pollinate, making the produced seeds GMO hybrid monsters that are, courts have ruled over and over, the property of Monsanto.

So. Let’s say you are growing heirloom corn in your field, and the guy or gal next door or down the road is growing Monsanto GMO monsters.  The wind blows, a bird or bee flutters from field to field, a mouse or raccoon skitters between the two, and your corn is contaminated.  Guess who owns your corn and its seeds.  Monsanto.  Not you.  Not only that but your Monsanto’s seeds are now forever monsterfied by genetic modification.  They may be RoundUp resistant, they may not produce viable seed, or they may be both.  But they’re not yours whatever they may be.  They belong, on your land and in your fields, to Monsanto.

This could be problematic on the small scale, but as Adrienne points out, there is no way that eventually all crops will not be infected.  Eventually, by the process of nature, no crops will be free of GMO’s; eventually all seed will be good for only one season because the resultant crop seeds cannot be resown (not only will Monsanto sue you if you try, but why bother? They won’t germinate, they won’t grow).

Learning all this I was horrified (especially as I’ve begun my own feeble attempts to grow tomatoes and such in pots on my porch), and felt the need to learn still more, so I watched David vs. Monsanto on my fabulous Roku.  Through the entire film, I just kept thinking, why don’t we know about this?

A brief overview of this excellent documentary and its focus, Mr. Percy Schmeiser of Canada:  Mr. Schmeiser is a Canadian canola farmer whose fields were contaminated by a neighbor’s Monsanto crops–the seeds from the neighbors crop pollinated Schmeiser’s crops by wind (or insects or whatever, certainly not by Schmeiser’s hand).  This was not, obviously, Schmeiser’s desire, but it was beyond his–and importantly, beyond Monsanto’s–control.

Shmeiser harvested his crops and separated the seeds for next year’s crops as farmers have been doing since forever, but Monsanto stepped in and sued him for stealing their patented GMO seeds.  Schmeiser was almost ruined by this suit and was terrorized and harassed by Monsanto thugs; his wife, at one point, was afraid to leave their home.

At the end of years of harassment, hundreds of thousands dollars spent, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that Monsanto does indeed “own” the canola seeds and that they cannot be reused, even if they were not planted in the first place!.  They also ruled that Schmeiser, because he was not actively stealing the patented seeds, was not liable for damages.  Small victory, but at least he didn’t have to pay the ridiculous amount Monsanto was demanding on top of having insisted Schmeiser’s entire crop and seeds be destroyed (you can read more about it here).

Schmeiser is just one in a long, long line of small farmers who are being threatened, harassed, sued, and shut down by Monsanto; there are more than we even know small American farmers who’ve suffered the same treatment (some were discussed in this documentary).  Governments in Canada and the U. S. are complicit in this, of course, with laws dictating what can and cannot be grown, how it can be used, etc.  Farmers are faced with the choice of either planting these government-approved GMO crops or going bankrupt.

Why isn’t the entire freaking nation not only alarmed and afraid but speaking out about this travesty?  Turns out that they are, en masse, across the globe today in the #MarchAgainstMonsanto.

Now I know it’s easy (perhaps a bit too easy) to reject such protests simply because regressives and assorted anarchists, commies, et al. are also involved.  But here’s the thing, so the frack what?  If this is wrong, then it’s wrong.  Period.  No matter who else thinks it’s wrong.  One of the things that angers me most about leftists (everyone from regressive loons to more centrist Obots) is the incredible lack of any principle at all.  They hate when Bush does something, but when Obama does the same thing or worse, they defend and support it.  They claim to hate government oppression and champion freedom of speech and the press, but the minute Obama shows his true tyrant colors, they tune out, defend it (oh, well, as long as it’s only conservatives being targeted, who cares? The TEA Party deserves to be silenced, they say!), and minimize every Constitutional and legal violation.

I refuse to do that, I refuse to consider issues and important encroachments on life and liberty only in light of whether or not leftists support or condemn them.  Too many conservatives are of the mind that if leftists hate drone strikes on civilians or on American soil, then we should automatically support them (ditto Obama’s illegal war in Libya and a myriad of other issues).  That’s mindless, knee-jerk nonsense, and we conservatives are better than that. Heaps better, actually.  So if you see anything wrong with the whole Monsanto thing–and our government, BOTH sides of the aisle, is not only complicit in but profiting from it–then learn more and stand up and be heard.  If not today, then in the near future before we are all dependent on “public-private partnerships” (aka fascism) for our food.

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30 thoughts on “Why the #MarchAgainstMonsanto Matters to Conservatives

  1. I have an ordinary store bought seed packet that states on the bottom of the back that you “may not save the seeds.” Huh? My first thought was, “fat chance.” I have to get ready for work so I’ll look through my seeds later to see which one it was.

    My uncle, Dr. Walter E. Lammerts, a quite famous hybridizer and rosarian(Queen Elizabeth rose, Chrysler Imperial, Blaze) is spinning in his grave.

    http://thestearns.net/tag/dr-walter-lammerts/

    • Good to know, Adrienne, let me know what you find out. I’ve bought seed packets from stores and am growing them this year just to learn (I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’ve decided that having my own source of food is important, if only to save on astronomical grocery bills), but I’m also stocking up on and properly storing heirloom seeds to be planted when I figure this whole thing out. I don’t have any packets with any directive not to save seeds, but after I get it figured out, I’m only planting heirlooms so that nothing gets contaminated by GMO monsters that I know nothing about. The only seeds I’m saving this year are from my pest repellent plants (marigold, nasturtium).

      I’m SO glad that you posted about Monsanto; who knows how long it would have been before I learned of it!

    • So if a seed packet has that statement on it, isn’t that a good indication that it’s a Monsanto Monster? If I were you I’d return it to the store where you bought it! And I will be checking all my seed packets from now on…

  2. So good! I just shared you on Facebook with this comment: “There are places we can come together, and this is one of them: GMO crops and Monsanto patents are really bad for all of us: Democrat idealists, staunch Republicans, & Libertarians, Tea Party & Occupy, Christians & non-believers, Conservatives & Vegans, Makers & Farmers.” 🙂

    Tina

    • Thanks, Tina, and your note is perfect. I hesitated to write that Occupy (and even Anonymous) are in on the protest, but you make me rethink that. We can all stand together against this . . . as long as we have principles. And thank the good Lord that we do!

  3. All that fellow conservatives should think about is this: small farmers = small business. Monsanto is using the power of the government to put small and midsize farmers out of business. If its wrong for Bloomberg to tell you what size soda you can buy, its wrong for Monsanto to force you to buy their gmo seeds/food. I’ve seen some people on the right make fun of those of us who are opposed to Monsanto and all I can say is, go ahead and eat that if you want. But I and my family shouldn’t be forced to because you see nothing wrong with it. We either believe in individual rights or we don’t.

    • So so true, Kerry! Small farmers are small businessmen (and women!), and this whole fascist enterprise to push them out of business makes my blood boil. The sued farmers have to sign confidentiality agreements, so we really have no idea how many have been coerced and bullied and put out of business by Monsanto and the government. When it comes to small farms, Obama’s “you didn’t build that” approach is breathtakingly gruesome and destructive (this has been going on for decades, though, so it’s not just Obama): the federal government is just as stupid as ever when it comes to our small farmers, the backbone, really, of our nation.

      And yes, I do mean ethanol (which I hate, hate, hate even though it’s a “republican” policy–I could care less who comes up with and champions stupid, destructive policies. I’m a Constitutional conservative, not a partisan). Anyway, the government has been “managing” farmers out of business off and on since the Great Depression; indeed, during that time over a million people died of starvation in the U. S. in no small part because that regressive lunatic FDR was paying farmers NOT to farm or to only grow certain crops for export! Grrr.

      You are right. This is a conservative issue in every way. It reminds me a little bit of how Donald Trump, who claims to be a conservative, tried to use the government to force that woman out of her home so he could build a parking lot. Eminent domain is a joke and the topic of a whole other post/rant, but that’s the same basic idea here: use government to destroy American lives and liberty for the personal benefit of one man or business. That’s not what freedom is and that’s certainly not what government should be doing; it should be protecting Americans not being complicit in their ruin.

  4. This is why each and every state must pass a law to mandate that a product is labeled as GMO. Stop buying those products and put Monsanto out of business. If this is not done, we will be facing famine like never seen before.

  5. Cheryl Aichele, an activist who joined the protesters, blamed Monsanto of trying to hide the facts that crops grown with GM modified seeds have negative impacts on people’s health.

  6. Less that one percent of our country realizes that this is a problem. Less than one percent of that even cares. I am deeply disappointed with the American people.

    • This is so disturbing to me. I get so frustrated sometimes with the myopia on both the left and right. It’s not like it takes a great deal of intellectual activity to figure out why this wrong and dangerous and how it will lead to all sorts of food issues in future, including as Loralee notes massive food shortages and famine.

    • Odie – close, but no cigar. Monsanto is now headquartered in Missouri, but “in 1926 the company founded and incorporated a town called Monsanto in Illinois (now known as Sauget). It was formed to provide a liberal regulatory environment and low taxes for the Monsanto chemical plants at a time when local jurisdictions had most of the responsibility for environmental rules. It was renamed in honor of Leo Sauget, its first Village President.” (from Wiki)

  7. Pingback: Teeing it up: A Round at the LINKs (Facebook debates edition) | SENTRY JOURNAL

    • I agree, but apparently, he couldn’t sue for all those things (he did sue for trespassing). I’m not sure of how it all went down between him, his lawyers, Monsanto’s lawyers, Canadian law, etc.

      This is what he did sue Monsanto for (according to the article I linked in my post):

      Libel, by publicly accusing him of committing illegal acts
      Trespassing
      Improperly obtaining samples of his seed from a local seed plant
      Callous disregard for the environment by genetically modified crops without proper controls and containment
      Contamination of his crops with unwanted GE plants

  8. I had no idea. As I look around I see more & more Government involvement…in every aspect of our lives (from the personal to the professional) and making a mess of everything. Government gets involved, products are less healthy, less productive, and revenue declines. Wow, what a system! Sounds pretty 3rd world to me! Thanks for for the alert. Somehow I must’ve missed Adrienne’s post on this.

    • It’s shocking isn’t it? And you are so right, the more government gets involved beyond their Constitutional duties, the more everything goes wrong. I’m so tired of the “unintended consequences” of an over-reaching government.

  9. Tank you SO much for your insight, honesty and pointblank presentation of this info…I’ve been saying these things for decades now and you have stated the case against Monsanto so concisely that no un-bought court could find in their favor. PS I garden for food at home and have bought my LAST seed packet. I am joining an heirloom seeds group today! FRACK MONSANTO!!!

    • Thanks, Kris! I’m sorry I missed your comment back in June, but I do appreciate it very much. Heirloom is the way to go, but do be sure that there is no one within a five-mile radius (or so, I forget the exact limits set by courts, so you may want to check that out) of you growing the Monsanto monsters. They win by letting nature cross-pollinate for them, then whatever you have is not yours but is Monsanto’s. Even if they never know or sue you, your seeds will be worthless if they are crossed with a Monsanto monster that is genetically modified not to germinate.

  10. Wonderful blog site. How can conservatives against Monsanto hook up and strengthen the campaign–well-promoted by leftists and centrists (especially those who care about what they eat)–but oddly rejected by “mainstream” (Corporatist) conservatism? Such overlap with the “Occupy” movement is somewhat troubling but necessary.

    • Thanks Lawrence! I’m really not sure what we can do; it’s been my experience that even when we agree with regressives and commies (Occupiers, et al.), they don’t want our help or support. Indeed, in the case of the drone strikes and illegal war in Libya, I’ve actually had such people tell me that if the TEA Party (i.e. people like me) condemn/support it, they should rethink their position. It’s the same on the right, sadly. If regressives and commies are against it, goes the thinking, it must be good.

      That kind of knee-jerk rejection of the left by the right and right by the left is, of course, exactly the goal of the deeply divisive rhetoric and hate speech of this administration and their minions. If we ever did figure out how to get past it and all work to stop this sort of thing, the powers that be (on left and right) would lose. They know it. But apparently, the blind hatred and disdain on both sides do not permit us to know it. So we get nowhere. Just as the government and Monsanto intend. Meanwhile, farmers across America and Canada are being sued and harassed out of business, suicide numbers are shocking for farmers (many of whom are losing farms that had been in their family for generations), and all the while, untainted GMO seeds will get harder to find and even harder to keep pure. The only winners are Monsanto and their government cronies who prosper at the expense of our farmers and of our own families who are eating the produce from these monster seeds not even realizing how damaging they really are.

      How do we get past that? I really don’t know. I think the best thing to do is to keep talking about it, keep explaining that this matters not just to leftists but to conservatives, too. Until sufficient people realize that there is more to be gained by working together than not, nothing will change.

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