By J.D. Heyes
Most know that corporate monopolies are nothing new, even though anti-trust laws that ostensibly outlaw monopolies have been around since the late 1800s in the United States. However, complete ownership in patented grain seeds equates to a monopoly over the nation’s – and the world’s – food supply, and yet that power is currently vested in one company.
As noted by Chemistry World, the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of seed master and GMO king Monsanto and against an Indiana farmer whom the court claimed violated intellectual property rights when he dared to replant the company’s GM, herbicide-resistant seeds as a second-generation crop.
Dave Murphy, head of Food Democracy Now! explained that the ultimate outcome of the ruling means the nation’s highest court “unanimously affirmed the corporate takeover” of the country’s food supply, marking a huge win for Monsanto, but a terrible loss for once-independent American farmers and the consumers for whom they grow and to whom they sell their crops. The ruling is the end-result of a longstanding effort by Monsanto to “subvert family farmers that do not use their genetically-engineered seeds,” he noted. Murphy added that the ruling gives Monsanto near-complete control over what Americans eat.
Monsanto moves one step closer to total food control
What’s more, the high court’s ruling wasn’t even close; announced May 13, it was unanimous, leading to much celebration by the biotech and bio-agriculture sectors, while of course being lamented by environmental and sustainable food organizations.
The justices upheld a lower court ruling that Vernon Bowman, the farmer, violated Monsanto’s property rights when he salvaged seeds from the previous year’s crop and then replanted them the next. The high court ruled that seed buyers can resell patented seeds under something called “patent exhaustion” doctrine, but cannot make new copies of them.
“The question in this case is whether a farmer who buys patented seeds may reproduce them through planting and harvesting without the patent holder’s permission,” the justices concluded. “We hold that he may not.”
The ruling means that Bowman will have to pay Monsanto in excess of $84,000 in damages and court costs, and be saddled with a patent infringement charge.
Observers of the court decision and Monsanto’s long-pursued tactics of dominating the seed market say that the win further solidifies absolute control over the global food supply, which has been a goal of the agri-business giant for some time. Once they establish that seeds are copyrighted property and can be owned, the next thing that will happen is that Monsanto will begin charging royalties, since the world’s farmers will be totally dependent on the company in order to grow crops.
If all seeds are controlled, then obviously all food will be controlled. That is more powerful than guns and bombs, The Waking Times noted.
Creating a monopoly with a single court ruling
Ellen Brown, writing in Counter Punch, used this quote from Nixon Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, to illustrate the dominance: “Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control the people.”
Brown notes further that at the present, 60 to 70 percent of foods in all U.S. supermarkets are genetically modified. By contrast, in at least two dozen other countries, including Switzerland, Australia, Austria, China, India, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Greece, Bulgaria, Poland, Italy, Mexico and Russia, GMO foods and seeds are at least partially and, in some cases, totally banned. In about 60 other countries, there are significant restrictions on GMOs.
But not in the United States. Instead, there is a virtual GMO seed- and food monopoly, and it was recently cemented by the nation’s highest court.
Other works by J.D. Heyes
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