In late March, Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser won a small victory against Monsanto Corporation after a decade-long legal engagement.
His struggle began in 1997 when the company sued Schmeiser after the its genetically modified canola plants were discovered growing on Schmeiser’s property in Saskatchewan.
Schmeiser said the modified canola was blown onto his property from a nearby farm, but Monsanto sued for $400,000, citing patent infringement and failure to pay technology fees.
Schmeiser and his wife became international spokespeople for farmer’s rights and the fight against genetically modified crops — but in 2004, Canada’s Supreme Court ruled against the Schmeisers, reinforcing Monsanto’s patent, but waiving punitive damages.
One year later, in 2005, Schmeiser found more of Monsanto’s plants on his farm, and after uprooting them billed Monsanto $660 for the labor.
The issue landed in small claims court, and Monsanto agreed to pay as long as the Schmeisers didn’t discuss the case.
The Schmeisers rejected the offer.
“There was no way we were going to give up our freedom of speech to a corporation,” said Mr. Schmeiser told The Globe & Mail of Toronto.
Finally, in March, Monsanto paid the fees with no conditions.
“After 10 years, finally justice has been served,” Mr. Schmeiser said.
“Grain Farmer Percy Schmeiser Claims Moral Victory in Seed Battle Against Monsanto”
The Globe & Mail (Canada), March 21, 2008