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Context of '(Summer 1999): Monsanto Manager Hesitant to Say Monsanto Would Pay Costs to Remove Volunteer Roundup Ready Canola from Fields'

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To enforce its “Technology Use Agreement” (see 1996), Monsanto sends detectives into farming communities to ensure that all fields planted with its patented seeds have been paid for. Farmers call them the “Monsanto police.” In the US, Monsanto has a contract with Pinkerton Security and Consulting. In Canada, the company uses Robinson Investigation Canada Ltd., which employs a team of former Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Monsanto also encourages farmers to use a toll-free “tip line” to blow the whistle on noncompliant neighbors. According to one farmer, Monsanto promises to reward snitchers with a leather jacket, an allegation that Monsanto denies. [Washington Post, 2/3/1999; Canadian Business, 10/8/1999] Another tactic employed by the company is to place radio ads broadcasting the names of growers caught illegally planting Monsanto’s seeds. [Washington Post, 2/3/1999] Monsanto threatens legal action against any farmer who it believes has violated the agreement. Suing one’s own customers “is a little touchy,” Karen Marshall, a Monsanto spokeswoman, concedes, adding that after spending so much money on research, Monsanto doesn’t want “to give the technology away.” [Washington Post, 2/3/1999] Craig Evans, the head of Monsanto’s Canadian biotechnology operation in Winnipeg, says: “At the end of the day if we don’t enforce our patent rights, the potential for new technology to come forward to maintain the competitiveness of the industry could disappear, because if you can’t get the return, then you’re going to take your technology somewhere else. We’re just trying to be fair. All I’m trying to do is fulfill the promise of the growers who said, ‘Monsanto, I’m willing to pay you for your technology as long as everyone’s paying.’” [Washington Post, 2/3/1999] Critics say Monsanto’s actions are tearing away at the social fabric that has traditionally held farming communities together. [Washington Post, 2/3/1999; Star Phoenix (Saskatoon), 4/14/2005] “Farmers here are calling it a reign of terror,” according to canola farmer Percy Schmeiser. “Everyone’s looking at each other and asking, ‘Did my neighbor say something?’” [Washington Post, 2/3/1999] “Our rural communities are being turned into corporate police states and farmers are being turned into criminals,” Hope Shand, research director of Rural Advancement Foundation International, explains to the Washington Post in 1999. [Washington Post, 2/3/1999]

Entity Tags: Monsanto, Robinson Investigation Canada Ltd, Pinkerton Security and Consulting, Percy Schmeiser, Craig Evans, Karen Marshall, Hope Shand

Timeline Tags: Seeds

After Percy Schmeiser’s Examination of Discovery, where he denies that he ever obtained and planted Monsanto’s Roundup Ready certified canola seeds, Monsanto drops its claim that Schmeiser “obtained canola seeds which are resistant to glyphosate from one or more persons licensed by… Monsanto Canada Inc.” Monsanto’s amended statement of claim alleges only that Schmeiser planted seed from his 1997 canola crop containing Monsanto’s patented Roundup-resistant genes and cells, and that in doing so, he infringed on the company’s patent. Therefore, the question of how Monsanto’s gene came to be present in Schmeiser’s fields is no longer of any concern to the company. Whether Schmeiser’s possession of the gene was a result of deliberate action or uninvited contamination has no bearing on the question of infringement, according to Monsanto. It asserts that the mere action of planting seeds containing Monsanto’s patented genes and cells—their presence intentional or not—infringed on the company’s patent. [Washington Post, 5/2/1999; Federal Court of Canada, 6/22/2000, pp. 14 pdf file]

Entity Tags: Percy Schmeiser, Monsanto

Timeline Tags: Seeds

Just three years after its introduction into the market (see 1996), Monsanto’s Roundup Ready Canola is being grown by some 20,000 Canadian farmers, representing nearly half of Canada’s canola market. [Canadian Business, 10/8/1999]

Timeline Tags: Seeds

In an interview with the Alberta Report, Craig Evans, general manager of biotechnology for Monsanto Canada, refuses to say whether or not Monsanto accepts the responsibility of removing Roundup Ready Canola plants that spread to fields where they are not wanted. “We have 55 representatives out there to help all growers with all weed control problems,” says Evans. “Covering costs depends on the situation. At the end of the day, I don’t want to say if we do or we don’t.” [Alberta Report, 9/6/1999]

Entity Tags: Monsanto, Craig Evans

Timeline Tags: Seeds

Federal Court of Canada Justice Andrew MacKay orders Percy Schmeiser to pay Monsanto $153,000 CAD in order to compensate the company for a portion of its legal costs. Monsanto sued Schmeiser in 2000 (see June 5, 2000-June 21, 2000) for illegally planting and harvesting canola in 1998 that he “knew or ought to have known” contained Monsanto’s patent-protected Roundup-resistant gene. This sum of money is in addition to the $19,832 CAD that Schmeiser has already been ordered to pay the company (see May 23, 2001). [Star Phoenix (Saskatoon), 4/29/2002]

Entity Tags: Monsanto, Percy Schmeiser, Terry Zakreski

Timeline Tags: Seeds

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