Monday, March 4, 2013

How Can Life be Patented?

To the editor:

Having followed several trials with Monsanto’s involvement, I was not surprised to find yet another case headlining on Huffpost Green’s website on February 19. Mark Sherman’s article “Monsanto Seed Case Reaches U.S. Supreme Court,” evoked momentary shock from me, though at this point, being so familiar with Monsanto’s history, I can’t quite understand why I still have that reaction. I suppose it’s simply because I cannot wrap my head around how unjustified the company’s actions are. According to the article, Vernon Hugh Bowman, an Indiana soybean farmer, is the latest victim of Monsanto’s overpowering monopoly of the farming industry. Accused of violating the company’s patents on soybean seeds, small-town Bowman will put up a fight against a multi-billion dollar corporation.

Think of how preposterous this notion seems: to patent a living organism. Essentially, under the guise that that is acceptable, that would be (though highly exaggerated) as though, as though I could patent a human life. That notion is ludicrous and would be vehemently protested by multiple (if not all) organizations and humans alike. Why, then, does no one bat an eyelash at Monsanto’s ownership of most of the soybean industry? Soybean seeds are, technically, a living organism. Monsanto limits the possibility for independent farmers to survive without any regard for their well-being, but also their health. How can a crop sprayed with pesticides kill bugs and parasites, but not harm the people who consume them? Genetically modified organisms infused into our foods are potentially dangerous and an unexplored field of food processing. Monsanto, with over 90% of soybean seed ownership, makes it nearly impossible for consumers to avoid purchasing their GMO products.

Farmers are left no choice in the matter- they must bow to Monsanto’s demand. Lawsuits are inevitable solely because of pollination. If a farmer refuses to invest in Monsanto’s products, their seeds will pollinate with nearby Monsanto seeds, and lo-and-behold, that farmer has a lawsuit against him for stealing Monsanto’s products. To avoid such tribulation, they must invest in Monsanto’s products. Monsanto, then, soaks them dry of any monetary gain that the farmer may be hopeful for because the seeds cannot be reused, but must be repurchased every harvest season. Imagine a product you could only use once; a shirt that could only be worn one time, a pair of shoes or glasses that must be purchased new each day. We cannot wrap our minds around such lunacy, and yet, it seems completely logical when Monsanto poses such a proposal.

I understand that every company must make money in order to survive. I understand that economic survival is a challenge, especially in the current economic bind we find ourselves trapped in. Monsanto is not in such a bind. Monsanto creates the bind that holds so firmly on farmers. I ask the writers of Huffpost Green to continue to enlighten readers of Monsanto’s oppressive nature so that maybe, somehow, the victims of its tyranny may be heard, even if it is outside the courthouse.

Ashley Intveld
Mahwah, NJ

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