Percy Schmeiser
 
Percy Schmeiser, a farmer and seed developer from Canada, has become the worldwide symbol for the resistance to the brutal methods employed by the multinational seed producer Monsanto to bully and control farmers.

What happened?

Schmeiser's neighbors planted genetically engineered canola (rapeseed). During the harvest in the autumn, the wind blew seed over the boundaries. Some of the harvest fell off the harvesting machinery and trucks and landed in the ditches and at the edges of fields. The following year this genetically modified seed germinated on Schmeiser's fields, a low percentage of his crop was contaminated with these genetically engineered plants.

Monsanto did what it has done thousand's of times the world over: it takes samples from farmers that do not buy seed from it, verifies contamination, alleges the independent farmers are planting illegal Monsanto seed and therefore infringing Monsanto's patent rights. The farmer is then offered a deal: Monsanto will drop its demands for the payment of damages if in future the farmer buys the genetically modified seed, waives the right make any claims for damages against Monsanto at any time in the future, and undertakes never to talk about the deal in public. If the farmer does not accept, he faces a court appearance for the patent infringement.

What does a farmer feel like when such a threat flutters through the letter box? He is alone on his farm, has to feed himself and his family, and may be frightened to talk about the matter with his neighbors. The farmer gives in and thinks: it won't be so bad.

But not Percy Schmeiser. He did not want the unsuitable genetically modified seed; he also did not see why he should have to pay damages to Monsanto. After all, Monsanto seed had contaminated his harvest and destroyed his decades of development work - in other words his intellectual property. Monsanto should pay him damages.
 
And so began the long journey through the courts to the highest instance under Canadian law. At this time there were still no guidelines on patenting of living organisms. The unbelievable happened: Monsanto won. Schmeiser had infringed Monsanto's patent claims. There was no mention of the damage to Schmeiser's breeding work by Monsanto. However, as Schmeiser could not obtain any advantage from the genetically modified harvest, the court decided that he did not have to pay any damages to Monsanto. He "only" had to pay the legal costs (still some 250,000 euro).

Then the world woke up. Why did it sleep for so long? The farmers who were unable to endure such a lengthy, expensive and nerve-racking process must have cursed the leather jackets they accepted as a promotional gift from Monsanto on signing the contract of adhesion, which in our legal understanding, is contrary to public policy. To make known that one has sold oneself and the right to free speech for a leather jacket, an evening meal and free beer is a humiliation for any farmer, for any person. So they all kept quiet. Worldwide.

Do corporate interests have priority over the thousand-year old right of farmers to grow and reproduce the varieties that are suitable for local conditions? Should financially orientated corporations be allowed to erode the nutritional sovereignty of entire countries? Is it right to patent life?

The answer is: no! And the strategists at Monsanto know it. Monsanto is therefore sparing neither costs nor creativity in praising its ineffective genetically engineered designs as the ultimate solution to world hunger. And they are finding attentive ears. Particularly among laypersons: among scientists and politicians.

How many envelopes with bribes have been passed to politicians in recent years? Maybe a kindergarten or a swimming pool has also been financed in the crucial Member of Parliament's constituency? Science can be controlled with the official sounding "third-party financing", and if that is not enough, then the entire university is simply bought.

However, the specialists, the farmers and beekeepers know: genetically engineered agriculture and traditional agriculture cannot exist side-by-side. Commercial cultivation and trials are subsidized from public funds, or at least tolerated contamination as can be seen from the experience of the last ten years in Canada. Non-genetically engineered canola (rapeseed) is now practically non-existent in Canada.

Monsanto wants to complete the job before it is no longer possible. Before the public and politicians in Germany, Europe and other countries on this Earth recognize that there will be no way back once genetically modified material has been introduced and extends in an uncontrolled manner.

Percy Schmeiser is aware of this situation and has agreed with his wife, after many, many a long talk, to make a gift to the world.

"Louise and I decided that we will dedicate the rest of our lives to representing the rights of farmers to use their own seed. Biological diversity, which we see as a prerequisite for safeguarding nutrition and the future of the agrarian culture, can only be protected and promoted by farmers who know their land and their climate. My ancestors emigrated to Canada to escape serfdom. Should we today become serfs to the multinational seed corporations? No. Only independent farmers are proud farmers, and it is these farmers who responsibly care for their land for the coming generations".

Percy Schmeiser is coming to Germany to bring the bitter reality in Canada to our attention.

"Ten years ago we Canadians did not know what was going to hit us with genetic engineering. Today we know: it was a mistake to allow this stuff into the country. In Europe you still have the freedom of choice. Open your eyes and see the consequences from the reality that is already taking place in other countries. And then take action". {Compilation of statements made by Percy Schmeiser}

Welcome Percy Schmeiser.

Jürgen Binder, January 2008
 
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