Monsanto: Profits, pirates and private dicks

Despite the outcry from the anti-GMO crowd about the dangers of GMO foods, Monsanto’s profit for the second fiscal quarter of 2012 was $4.75 billion, up from $4.13 billion at the same time last year.  Roughly half of that was sales of their GMO corn, a constant target of the AGM crowd. Sales of Bt corn rose 35%.  International sales also contributed to the increase. Overseas, one of the other evil giants, Syngenta posted a 47% increase in sales. Much of the sales increase is in Central and  South America. Eastern Europe also figures into the mix

It appears farmers aren’t hearing the activists.  AGMs may feel good about their campaign, but those who actually buy the seeds seem to be turning a deaf ear. So, in essence, the AGM war against GMOs and Monsanto, et al is also a war against farmers, or should I say, non-organic farmers. If these big companies are screwing over farmers left and right, why are they seeing record increases in sales and profits?

The drought that ravaged corn crops this year had growers looking toward new strains, specifically drought resistant GMO corn. Some farmers have volunteered to plant new drought resistant test fields.

If the AGM crusade  is serious, why aren’t they targeting farmers who buy the seeds, seemingly in increasing numbers?  Why aren’t they protesting  farms that grow GMO crops, especially next to organic farms?

Now having said all this it would be naive to believe that all the business practices of companies like Monsanto are puppies shitting rainbows. They can be pretty hard ass in the enforcement of their patents.  And, Monsanto’s flexing their muscle through the Bush II administration to strong arm recalcitrant European countries is unacceptable. But, the ambassador leading that charge, Craig Stapleton, a Bush crony is gone and it seems unlikely the Obama administration has continued that campaign.

But what about all the suing that Monsanto does? How do they know if a farmer is illegally using their seeds? From all accounts, it’s people ratting our their neighbors.  It also the result of overzealous private dicks the company hires. Reports have said these seed shamuses often misrepresent themselves to gain access to farmers’ lands posing as such things as surveyors and they follow suspected seed pirates and videotape them.  This is the kind of issue on which activists should concentrate. There are enough cases of intimidation of farmers who in many cases are actually, truly innocent.

They are spending all their hard begged money on the wrong target. They could take that money and investigate the abuses and publicize that instead of their imagined horrors of GMOs

Yes, I said seed pirates. Seed piracy is the action of  illegal labeling and selling of proprietary crop seed.  They call it brown bagging. According to reports, it’s a fast growing business in the South and it’s not just GMO seeds but conventional as well.

The online version of  Arkansas Business, has an article detailing this practice. Mary Smith,  director of the Seed Division of the Arkansas Plant Board is quoted as saying. “The problem has become big enough that more large companies are going out and trying to enforce their rights.”

Syngenta  and Agripro, two seed companies currently have about a six lawsuits in Arkansas claiming farmers and distributors are engaging in a black market for wheat seeds. And as we know, there is no GM wheat on the market.

“I’ve been told by dealers and seedsmen all the way from here to North Carolina that anywhere from 35 to 50 percent of all of the wheat acres in the Midsouth have been planted with seeds gotten illegally,” said Duff Nolan, a Stuttgart attorney representing the seed companies.

Ah, you may be saying to yourself, that’s what the companies claim. Well, apparently even farmers don’t dispute that numbers.  “It’s at least that much,” said David Farabough, a Lincoln County farmer and member of the Arkansas Wheat Growers Association. “It’s a very common practice, and that number seems pretty accurate.”

Now you’re asking, there’s a black market for seeds? What’s up with that? According to the article, farmers in Arkansas grow what they call soft wheat which is used for such items as cookies and cakes. In case you don’t choose to read the article here’s the bottom line.

Wheat expert William Johnson of the University of Arkansas says growers have the choice between inexpensive seeds or the pricier,  proprietary seeds.  He says the proprietary seeds are superior to the publicly versions providing better yields and more pest resistance. The Arkansas Business article goes into more details about the economic issues involved.

As to the brown bagging issue, it doesn’t seem to be that new. I came across an article in Vanity Fair from 2008 that has examples of  Monsanto’s brutal enforcement tactics. But one thing stuck out.  Private dicks were investigating a farmer for  infringement.  The article quotes from a Monsanto court document which says, “…through surveillance of Mr. Rinehart’s farm facility and farming operations, observed Defendant planting brown bag (my emphasis  soybean seed. Mr. Moore observed the Defendant take the brown bag soybeans to a field, which was subsequently loaded into a grain drill and planted.” 

So, what dos this all mean? It means that anti-GMO activists are barking up the wrong tree. Their fight is misplaced. They’ve picked GMO’s when that isn’t the fight. The fight should be against all too power multi-nationals that engage in as some have described it, a scorched earth policy in their quest for market domination.  They could gain real public traction if they ditched the anti-science, anti-progress  bullshit and focused on the real enemy.

One Reply to “Monsanto: Profits, pirates and private dicks”

  1. Great article.

    And greater irony:

    “Monsatan’s” genetically engineered products are supposedly so awful, and yet there’s this thriving black market in their pirated seeds.

    What’s wrong with these damn farmers anyway?

    Could it be that they recognize a good thing when they see it?

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