Home Back Issues April 2012 Seeds of dissent

Seeds of dissent

| Print |  Email
Articles - April 2012
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Article Index
Seeds of dissent
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4
Page 5
0412_SeedsOfDissent_02
Italian peppers are sown for seed and sold by Wild Garden Seed. Peppers produced by the plants are also sold at Gathering Together Farm, at farmers' markets and to restaurants.
// Photo by Alexandra Shyshkina
Whatever the outcome of the Monsanto litigation — no doubt years ahead — it has influence in the Willamette Valley, where the organic seed industry does a $35 million annual business in worldwide exports. Similarly, the area’s sugarbeet seed producers, primarily West Coast Beet Seed and Betaseed, supply half the sugar farms in North America, a business valued in excess of $100 million a year.

Morton says winning the lawsuit won’t help him soon. Since Roundup Ready sugarbeets were planted in the Willamette Valley, Morton says he has lost tens of thousands as buyers headed elsewhere amid rumblings that his land has been contaminated.

“I grow table beets and I grow Swiss chard. Both of these are the same species of the sugarbeet, there’s no difference. These plants can freely cross pollinate,” says Morton. He now spends $300 to $900 a crop verifying the organic content of his seeds and has abandoned some breeding projects.

Farmers around the nation echoed those issues in the OSGATA litigation. And bigger than the threat of new costs and cross pollinaton is a fear of lawsuits, one they say is increasingly suffocating amid heightened risks and small margins.

OSGATA purports Monsanto has filed 144 lawsuits nationally against farmers in two years, while settling another 700. Monsanto disputes that it has ever sued farmers over chance outcrossing, only license violations — either use of patented seeds without permission or seed saving, which the company prohibits, a claim that New York federal Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald found to be true.

“Monsanto never has — and has committed it never will — sue a farmer if our patented seed or traits are found in his field as a result of inadvertent means,” says Tom Helscher, director of corporate affairs at Monsanto, who responded via email.

Jim Gerritsen, a Maine farmer who is president of OSGATA, says Monsanto’s unwillingness to sign a deal protecting organic farmers has a chilling effect. “Even if we believed them, what would prevent them from waking up tomorrow and changing their minds?” he says, adding organic farmers need clear information about business risks.



 

More Articles

Back to School

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY LEE VAN DER VOO

By now we’ve all read the headlines: Starbucks is giving away free degrees. Except it isn’t.


Read more...

Community colleges and sustainability

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, July 31, 2014
sustainabilityBY MARY SPILDE | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

Faced with the aftermath of the “great recession,” increasing concern about the environment and dwindling family wage jobs, we have some very important choices to make about our future.


Read more...

Is this employee right?

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
081314 thumb employeefeelingsBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

When I say, “Your Employee is Always Right,” I do not mean “right about the facts,” but rather “right about how they feel” and “right about how they want to be led.”


Read more...

Report Card

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Strong public schools shore up the economy, survey respondents say. But local schools demonstrate lackluster performance.


Read more...

Video: The 100 Best Survey

News
Thursday, August 28, 2014

100-best-logo-2015 500pxw-1OB Research Editor Kim Moore shares some pointers about the 100 Best Companies to Work For survey.


Read more...

Two sides of the coin

Contributed Blogs
Monday, August 25, 2014
0825 thumb moneyBY JASON NORRIS | OB GUEST BLOGGER

Ferguson Wellman’s investment views on the economy and capital markets.


Read more...

College Hacker

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY KLINT FINLEY

Treehouse CEO Ryan Carson builds a 21st-century trade school.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS