Percy Schmeiser

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Percy Schmeiser
PercySchmeiser2.jpg
Percy Schmeiser in Stuttgart (2008);
MLA for Watrous
In office
1967 – 1971
Preceded by Hans Broten
Succeeded by Donald Cody
Personal details
Born January 5, 1931 (1931-01-05) (age 83)
Political party Saskatchewan Liberal Party
Occupation Farmer

Percy Schmeiser (born January 5, 1931) is a farmer from Bruno, Saskatchewan, Canada. He specializes in breeding and growing canola. He became an international symbol and spokesperson for independent farmers' rights and the regulation of transgenic crops during his protracted legal battle with multinational agrichemical company Monsanto. He was the subject of the 2009 film David Versus Monsanto.[1]

Monsanto v. Schmeiser[edit]

In 1997, Percy Schmeiser found Monsanto's genetically modified “Roundup Ready Canola” plants growing near his farm. He testified that he sprayed his nearby field and found that much of the crop survived, meaning it was also Roundup Ready.[2] He testified that he then harvested that crop, saved it separately from his other harvest, and intentionally planted it in 1998.[2] Monsanto approached him to pay a license fee for using Monsanto's patented technology without a license. Schmeiser refused, claiming that the actual seed was his because it was grown on his land, and so Monsanto sued Schmeiser for patent infringement on August 6, 1998.[2]

For the next several years, the case traveled through the Canadian court system. Meanwhile, Schmeiser became a popular figure among those opposed to genetic engineering. He accepted speaking engagements around the world. Ultimately, a Supreme Court 5-4 ruling found in favor of Monsanto, because Schmeiser had intentionally replanted the Roundup Ready seed that he had saved.[3]

Schmeiser v. Monsanto[edit]

On August 11, 1999, Schmeiser filed a separate lawsuit against Monsanto for ten million dollars for "libel, trespass, and contamination of his fields with Roundup Ready Canola".[4] As of 2007, Schmeiser had not started to prosecute that lawsuit.[5]:58

In 2002 Schmeiser's wife filed suit against Monsanto for $140 plus costs for costs to remove contamination of her organic garden with volunteer GM canola; the case was dismissed.[6]

Schmeiser discovered Roundup Ready Canola in his fields in 2005. He contacted Monsanto to have the company remove it, but when Monsanto conditioned doing so on Schmeiser signing a confidentiality agreement and a release from litigation, Schmeiser had the cleanup done and billed Monsanto for the $660 cost. When Monsanto refused to pay, Schmeiser sued in small claims court.[7] On March 19, 2008 Monsanto settled out of court, paying the $660 without stipulation.[8]

Other accomplishments[edit]

Schmeiser served as mayor of Bruno from 1966 to 1983, and also as member of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan for the Watrous constituency for the Liberal Party of Saskatchewan from 1967 to 1971.[9] Schmeiser has served as a town councillor of Bruno since 2003 and currently serves as the deputy mayor.

Schmeiser was the recipient of the Merit Award for Dealer of the Year in 1984 by the Saskatchewan Manitoba Implement Dealers Association. He was appointed to Saskatchewan's Real Estate Commission in 1993 and served until 1999. In 2000, he received the Mahatma Gandhi Award for working for the good of mankind in a non-violent way. In 2007, Percy Schmeiser and Louise Schmeiser were named winners of the Right Livelihood Award:

... for their courage in defending biodiversity and farmers' rights, and challenging the environmental and moral perversity of current interpretations of patent laws.[10]

Quotes[edit]

Now, at 70, I am involved with this fight with Monsanto. I stood up to them because a farmer should never give up the right to use his own seed. I felt very strongly about it because my grandparents came here from Europe in late 1890s and early 1900s to open this land, to be free, and to grow what they wanted to grow. Now we are going back to a feudal system that they left because they were not free—basically we are becoming serfs of the land.

—Percy Schmeiser in an interview with Acres USA[citation needed]

Farmers should be concerned about this judgment as they now may lose their ability to continue with this practice. I believe that this ruling is an injustice and Parliament must act to ensure that farmers' rights are protected. The playing field between farmer rights and the bio-tech companies rights has been tilted towards the companies with this decision.[11]

I have always campaigned on the right of a farmer to save and re-use his own seed. This is what I have been doing for the last 50 years. I will continue to support any efforts to strengthen the rights of a farmer to save and re-use his own seed.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Journeyman Pictures : documentaries : David Vs Monsanto". Journeyman.tv. Retrieved 2012-11-25. 
  2. ^ a b c Federal court of Canada. Monsanto Canada Inc. v. Schmeiser Date: 20010329 Docket: T-1593-98 Retrieved November 25, 2012.
  3. ^ Canadian Supreme Court Decision
  4. ^ Adrian Ewins for the Western Producer. August 19, 1999 Legal battle over patented canola set for next June
  5. ^ Peter W. B. Phillips. Farmers' Privilege and Patented Seeds. Chapter 3 in Accessing and Sharing the Benefits of the Genomics Revolution eds. Peter W. B. Phillips, Chika B. Onwuekwe. Springer, 2007
  6. ^ Sean Pratt for the Western Producer. June 30, 2005 Schmeisers lose again to Monsanto in GM case
  7. ^ Sean Pratt for the Western Producer. May 31, 2007 by Sean Pratt Schmeiser renews Monsanto battle
  8. ^ Hartley, Matt (2008-03-20). "Grain Farmer Claims Moral Victory in Seed Battle Against Monsanto". Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2009-11-16. 
  9. ^ [1][dead link]
  10. ^ "Right Livelihood Award: 2007 - Percy & Louise Schmeiser". Rightlivelihood.org. Retrieved 2007-10-03. 
  11. ^ a b "Monsanto vs Schmeiser". Percyschmeiser.com. Retrieved 2012-11-25. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]