The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Monsanto in a patent infringement case, reminding us how crazy it is to patent life forms. Seeds have been harvested and saved for generations, since the beginning of agriculture, and women the world over have been instrumental in saving seeds that have given us diversity and heirloom varieties. Bees, butterflies and birds pollinate plants, it's what they do.
image courtesy of Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association.
Heirloom varieties are rapidly disappearing from our world. Think of corn. It's yellow. It's blue, it's red, it's multicolored. But here, in the United States, and sadly, in Mexico, where these varieties originated, it's overwhelmingly white.
Check this graphic of food varieties, courtesy of National Geographic:
From Today's ruling:
Petitioner Bowman purchased soybeans intended for consumption from a grain elevator; planted them; treated the plants with glyphosate, killing all plants without the Roundup Ready trait; harvested the resulting soybeans that contained that trait; and saved some of these harvested seeds to use in his late-season planting the next season.
Monsanto sued Bowman for patent infringement, which does not allow Bowman to save seeds, nor harvest them for future generations. Monsanto's case argued (and the Supreme court agreed) that Bowman infringed on Monsanto's patent by harvesting seeds for 8 generations.
Justice Elana Kagan wrote, “Bowman was not a passive observer of his soybeans’ multiplication...Put another way, the seeds he purchased (miraculous though they might be in other respects) did not spontaneously create eight successive soybean crops.”
Yeah, EK, no shit. He's a farmer. Soybeans' multiplication is done by the hand of a farmer. That's what we call agriculture.
"Say there are 1,500 climate resistant genes and we go to the gene bank to map drought resistant genes and make a bet on 100 varieties that have the highest potential. We still don't really know what's contributing to drought resistance. It is not a reliable way of finding drought resistant varieties. Diversity has to be the approach, there is no magic bullet. Diversity has to be our partner in adaptation and resilience."
Seed Freedom is a global campaign to alert citizens and governments around the world on how precarious our seed supply has become. Seed Freedom encourages communities to set up seed banks, thus building a network of seed saving and exchange. "Seeds are collected, saved, grown out, multiplied, selected, distributed …and the cycle continues, the circles of freedom keep expanding."
Our efforts in the U.S. to fight against corporate patenting on life, or just to have labels that tell us what the hell we're eating, hasn't yet been successful. Monsanto and its lobbyists, and other corporations have gotten in the way of consumers' desires for a GMO Free World.
The MONSANTO PROTECTION ACT was passed super hush-hush rider to the Agricultural Appropriations Bill, derisively called the "Monsanto Protections Act" —which basically [protects] genetically modified seeds from litigation in the face of health risks. Jon Stewart, as usual, hilariously broke it down.
Prop 37 in California, which would have required labeling of GMO foods, was defeated, 51% No to 48% Yes, back in November 2012. Companies I used to love before I got hip to soy's estrogen-laden ills—Kashi and Silk—use GMOs. Realizing consumer insight into their GMO laced goods goes against the image the consumer has of their brand.
The FDA offers this list:
"the majority of genetically engineered plants - corn, canola, soybean, and cotton - are typically used to make ingredients that are then used in other food products. Such ingredients include cornstarch in soups and sauces, corn syrup as a general purpose sweetener, and cottonseed oil, canola oil, and soybean oil in mayonnaise, salad dressings, cereals, breads, and snack foods."
Seems like each day the health conscious folks on my FB pass around lists of GMO FOODS TO AVOID. Which almost always get refuted by other lists. From Heinz to my former fave heart-shaped Kashi oats, we have startlingly no idea where what we eat comes from.