David vs. Monsanto—The Story of How a Lone Farmer Prevailed Against One of the Most Powerful Companies on the Planet

Monsanto has long been trying to establish control over the seeds of the plants that produce food for the world. They have patented a number of genetically altered food crops, which can only be grown with proper license, and the seeds for which must be purchased anew each year.Alas, genetically engineered (GE) crops cannot be contained. And rather than being found guilty of contaminating farmers’ property, Monsanto has successfully sued hundreds of unsuspecting farmers for patent infringement when unlicensed GE crops were found growing in their fields. Many farmers have subsequently, quite literally, lost their farms.Percy Schmeiser of Saskatchewan, Canada, is but one of Monsanto’s victims, but contrary to so many others, he refused to quietly tolerate the injustice. In a classic case of David versus Goliath, Schmeiser fought back against one of the most powerful businesses in the world.David versus GoliathIt all began in 1998, at which time Schmeiser had grown canola on his farm for 40 years. Like any other traditional farmer, he used his own seeds, saved from the previous harvest.But, like hundreds of other North American farmers, Schmeiser ended up being sued by Monsanto for ‘patent infringement’ when more than 320 hectares were found to be contaminated with Roundup Ready canola—the biotech giant’s patented canola, genetically engineered to tolerate otherwise lethal doses of glyphosate.The company sought damages totaling $400,000. Most farmers end up settling, but Schmeiser was angry enough to fight back, and countersued Monsanto for:Libel, by publicly accusing him of committing illegal actsTrespassingImproperly obtaining samples of his seed from a local seed plantCallous disregard for the environment by introducing genetically modified crops without proper controls and containmentContamination of his crops with unwanted GE plantsThe case eventually went before the Federal Court of Canada, and after a decade-long battle, Schmeiser won when, in March 2008, Monsanto settled out of court, agreeing to pay for all cleanup costs. The agreement also specified that Schmeiser would not be under gag-order, and that Monsanto can be sued for recontamination. This landmark case is now featured in the documentary film “David versus Monsanto,” which you can view in its entirety above.Another Evil Monsanto Jump