February 16, 1999

Monsanto Behind Anti-Farmer Law

Ohio Bill Descriminates Against Seed-Saving Farmers

A bill has been introduced in the Ohio state legislature (United States) that would require registration and state-level regulation of anyone who cleans or conditions self-pollinated seed. According to the Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI), the proposed legislation is part of Monsanto's aggressive corporate strategy to police rural communities and intimidate seed-saving farmers.

The proposed legislation is part of a dangerous trend to eliminate or restrict the right of farmers to save and exchange seed - all in the name of increasing seed industry profits" explains Hope Shand, Research Director of RAFI. "We weren't surprised to learn that Monsanto is behind the bill, because the company is already waging a ferocious campaign against seed-saving farmers and it's actively developing the controversial suicide seeds - or Terminator technology," said Shand. Terminator is a technique for genetically altering a plant so that the seeds it produces are sterile.

According to the Ohio Seed Improvement Association, the proposal to amend Ohio's seed law originated with agribusiness giant Monsanto last year. Monsanto is the world's largest seller of genetically modified seed. Under US patent law it is illegal for farmers to save patented seed. To enforce its exclusive monopoly, Monsanto has aggressively prosecuted farmers for what the company calls "seed piracy." But seed saving is illegal only if the farmer is saving or re-using patented seed. Farmers who grow soybeans and wheat, for example, typically save seed from their harvest to re-plant the following year. An estimated 25% of North American soybean seed is farm-saved seed.


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