Daily News Archive
Supreme Court to Hear Case of Genetically Altered Canola
(Beyond Pesticides, May 12, 2003) On May 8 the Canadian Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of biotech giant Monsanto v. Saskatchewan farmer Percy Schmeiser over the patent rights of genetically modified canola. The controversy began when Monsanto found its patented Round-Up Ready canola plants growing on Schmeiser's farm.
The court agreed Thursday to hear the case of Percy Schmeiser, who is challenging past rulings that held him liable for over $170,000 in damages and previous legal costs. Although the high court announced, without comment, it would hear the case, Schmeiser's attorney Terry Zakreski said, "It's a big thrill and it's great news to hear this," But much work lies ahead, Zakreski said. "I compare this to Mount Everest. We've come all this way and we are only at about base camp. All the tough climbing is still ahead."
Schmeiser has become somewhat of a folk hero worldwide among farm, consumer, and environmental activists who worry about the spread of genetically modified crops and the economic power of the companies that hold patents for them. Schmeiser, who by his own measure is a seed saver, was cited in earlier rulings not only to pay Monsanto for allegedly planting the GMO canola, but was forced to relinquish over 50 years of seeds he has developed on his farm. "I've been farming for 50 years, and all of a sudden I have this," Schmeiser said. "It's very upsetting and nerve-wracking to have a multi-giant corporation come after you. I don't have the resources to fight this."
Percy Schmeiser believes Monsanto hopes to force farmers into accepting genetically engineered products. Schmeiser is standing up to Monsanto in court. "I'm going to fight, and fight and fight," he says. "Because I believe what is happening to farmers is wrong. And I'm fighting this not just for myself, but for my children and my grandchildren and for my farmer's friends."