Monsanto has turned this ancient practice on its head. “It’s not like describing a widget,” says Joseph Mendelson III, the legal director of the Center for Food Safety, which has tracked Monsanto’s activities in rural America for years. Rather, it was a bacterium developed by a General Electric scientist to clean up oil spills.
But the precedent was set, and Monsanto took advantage of it. Farmers who buy Monsanto’s patented Roundup Ready seeds are required to sign an agreement promising not to save the seed produced after each harvest for re-planting, or to sell the seed to other farmers.
Rinehart later learned that the company had been secretly investigating farmers in his area.
Rinehart never heard from Monsanto again: no letter of apology, no public concession that the company had made a terrible mistake, no offer to pay his attorney’s fees. “If I tried to do something like that it would be bad news. seeds, in 1996, Monsanto has launched thousands of investigations and filed lawsuits against hundreds of farmers and seed dealers.
In Iraq, the groundwork has been laid to protect the patents of Monsanto and other G. To be sure, more and more agricultural corporations and individual farmers are using Monsanto’s G. Faced with a federal lawsuit, Rinehart had to hire a lawyer.
Monsanto eventually realized that “Investigator Jeffery Moore” had targeted the wrong man, and dropped the suit.
Some farmers don’t fully understand that they aren’t supposed to save Monsanto’s seeds for next year’s planting. Most Americans know Monsanto because of what it sells to put on our lawns— the ubiquitous weed killer Roundup.
Rinehart was behind the counter of the Square Deal, his “old-time country store,” as he calls it, on the fading town square of Eagleville, Missouri, a tiny farm community 100 miles north of Kansas City.
The Square Deal is a fixture in Eagleville, a place where farmers and townspeople can go for lightbulbs, greeting cards, hunting gear, ice cream, aspirin, and dozens of other small items without having to drive to a big-box store in Bethany, the county seat, 15 miles down Interstate 35.
Monsanto already dominates America’s food chain with its genetically modified seeds. Just as frightening as the corporation’s tactics–ruthless legal battles against small farmers–is its decades-long history of toxic contamination.
Gary Rinehart clearly remembers the summer day in 2002 when the stranger walked in and issued his threat.