To an intimidating
As Rinehart would recall, the man began verbally attacking him, saying he had proof that Rinehart had planted Monsanto’s genetically modified (G. Better come clean and settle with Monsanto, Rinehart says the man told him—or face the consequences. He owned a small—a small—country store in a town of 350 people. You will pay.”Scenes like this are playing out in many parts of rural America these days as Monsanto goes after farmers, farmers’ co-ops, seed dealers—anyone it suspects may have infringed its patents of genetically modified seeds.
Rinehart was incredulous, listening to the words as puzzled customers and employees looked on. He was angry that somebody could just barge into the store and embarrass him in front of everyone. Rinehart says he told the intruder, “You got the wrong guy.”When the stranger persisted, Rinehart showed him the door. Rinehart says he can’t remember the exact words, but they were to the effect of: “Monsanto is big. As interviews and reams of court documents reveal, Monsanto relies on a shadowy army of private investigators and agents in the American heartland to strike fear into farm country.
Yet in a little more than a decade, the company has sought to shed its polluted past and morph into something much different and more far-reaching—an “agricultural company” dedicated to making the world “a better place for future generations.” Still, more than one Web log claims to see similarities between Monsanto and the fictional company “U-North” in the movie Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds have transformed the company and are radically altering global agriculture. Two weeks later it announced the acquisition of the country’s third-largest cottonseed company, Emergent Genetics, for 0 million. With Monsanto seeds, a farmer plants his crop, then treats it later with Roundup to kill weeds. Like it or not, farmers say, they have fewer and fewer choices in buying seeds. Whoever provides the world’s seeds controls the world’s food supply.
It’s estimated that Monsanto seeds now account for 90 percent of the U. production of soybeans, which are used in food products beyond counting. That takes the place of labor-intensive weed control and plowing. After Monsanto’s investigator confronted Gary Rinehart, Monsanto filed a federal lawsuit alleging that Rinehart “knowingly, intentionally, and willfully” planted seeds “in violation of Monsanto’s patent rights.” The company’s complaint made it sound as if Monsanto had Rinehart dead to rights: During the 2002 growing season, Investigator Jeffery Moore, through surveillance of Mr.
But farmers who buy Monsanto’s seeds can’t even do that. Supreme Court, in a five-to-four decision, turned seeds into widgets, laying the groundwork for a handful of corporations to begin taking control of the world’s food supply.
Most give in and pay Monsanto some amount in damages; those who resist face the full force of Monsanto’s legal wrath.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.