GMOs on Trial
Percy Schmeiser v. Monsanto
On Tuesday January 20th, the Supreme Court of Canada will hear the case of Monsanto Canada vs. Percy Schmeiser. Sierra Club of Canada, along with five other organizations (the National Farmers Union, the Council of Canadians, the Government of Ontario, Action Group on Erosion Technology and Concentration, and the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology) has been granted intervenor status in the case.
August 1998 Monsanto launches a lawsuit against Percy Schmeiser, alleging that he had acquired Monsanto's GM canola seed without a licence, and that he had planted and grown these seeds, thus infringing on Monsantos patent on Roundup Ready canola seeds.
June 2000 Because patents are under federal jurisdiction, Monsanto vs. Percy Schmeiser go to trial directly in the federal court of Canada. The trial lasts for two and a half weeks and is presided over by a single judge.
March 2001 The Federal Court of Canada announces its decision. It decided that some of Monsanto's GM canola plants were found growing in the ditch beside Schmeisers field, not even in the field. The Federal Court of Canada rules that no matter how the GM canola got there (wind, birds
), the GM canola plants were present on Percy Schmeisers property and therefore he had violated Monsantos patent.
May 2002 The March 2001 ruling is appealed and the case is heard in the Federal Court of Appeal by three judges.
November 2002 Percy Schmeiser applies to be heard in the Supreme Court of Canada.
May 2003 It is confirmed that Percys case will be heard in the Supreme Court of Canada.
January 2004 The Supreme Court of Canada is to hear the final showdown between Monsanto vs. Percy Schmeiser.
Percy Schmeiser, Bruno Saskatchewan native who has been farming with his wife Louise since 1947. Louise and Percy have five children, fifteen grandchildren and celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in October of 2002. Percy was mayor of his community and a councillor for over 25 years. He also was a member of the provincial legislature and was on many agricultural committees, both on the provincial level and representing the province on the federal level. But despite spending much of his life fighting for the rights and bettering of farmers, Percy is first and foremost a farmer himself. Mr. Schmeiser has been saving and replanting seeds for over 50 years.
The Supreme Court of Canada will be addressing many fundamental issues related to this case, including:
The Schmeiser family has already lost 50 years of research and development. Currently, the responsibility of dealing with the environmental contamination of GE genes is shouldered by the public, not the polluter. If Percy Schmeiser loses the case, the Supreme Courts ruling would further promote the control of one corporation over agricultural resources and farmers. This will have a tremendous effect on the rights of non-GMO farmers, particularly seed savers. If farmers ever lose the right to use their own seed the future development of new seeds and plants suitable to their local climatic and soil conditions would be stopped.