(SNN) – Percy Schmeiser has spent a lifetime as an agriculturist farming in Canada. An expert is his field, he specializes in breeding and growing canola. Today at the age of 81, Percy still farms; but that almost changed when one of the largest corporations in the world filed a lawsuit against him threatening to take away his livelihood and make him and his wife homeless.
Considered by many not only in Canada, but also in the United States as a David to the goliath Monsanto Company, Schmeiser was targeted; and in August of 1998, he was served notice that he was being sued for a patent infringement. A year earlier, Schmeiser had detected that his crop was contaminated by Monsanto’s Round-up ready seeds, when he sprayed his nearby crop with the herbicide Round-up. Parts of the crop survived, confirming his suspicions.
Not one to sit back and be bullied, Schmeiser filed a counter suit against Monsanto in August of 1999 for ten million dollars for "libel, trespass, and contamination of his fields with Roundup Ready Canola.”
Monsanto’s court case was settled in 2002 in favour of the plaintiff, but the victory was hollow, as the Supreme Court of Canada awarded no compensation to Monsanto.
As an example of Schmeiser's convictions, in 2005 he discovered more of Monsanto's canola growing in his fields. After billing Monsanto, which was ignored, he took no time in filing a small claim in court demanding the cost of $660.00 for removing the Monsanto plants. In March of 2008, Monsanto settled out of court and paid the bill without stipulation.
The film, "David Vs. Monsanto" features farmers struggles
with Monsanto Company and features prominently
Schmeiser struggle and 'victory'.
As an activist, Schmeiser has spoken on both sides of the border warning people of the dangers of GMO and the policies of the Monsanto Company. Regarding the corporate policies of Monsanto, he has gone on record as stating Monsanto has created a 'report your neighbour' hotline, that can turn neighbours one against the other, essentially destroying the fabric of a healthy farming community.
As a voice against GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms), he has warned us that “there are no more choices” of what kind of seed you can plant, “you can no longer have an organic farm.” Today in Canada, there are no more pure rape seed or soya seed. The message from Schmeiser is clear; once the organism is let out into the world, it cannot be removed. Today, as a result of awareness that Schmeiser has generated, as well as a very few others, countries are putting on the brakes when it comes to the authorization of GMO's in agriculture.
Percy Schmeiser is a man who has served his community as the Mayor of Bruno, Saskatchewan, and as a Member of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan (MLA). The efforts and financial stress endured by the Schmeisers as a result of his battle with the Monsanto Company have raised awareness and set legal precedents.
This Canadian hero's struggle was the subject of a 2009 documentary titled, “David Versus Monsanto”, a film that features not only the Schmeisers troubles with the Monsanto Company, but also the troubles of other farmers from Canada and the United States.
Photo: Image capture of Saskatchewan Farmer, Percy Schmeiser, from the Trailer, "David Vs. Monsanto" No other source available. Rights held by Bertram Verhaag and DENKmal Films.
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