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Food & Health : Laws & Politics Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011 - 9:38:09 AM

Supreme Court sides with Monsanto to punish farmer
By Sue Mueller
Jan 16, 2008 - 10:25:58 PM

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THURSDAY JAN 17, 2008 ( -- The Supreme Court on Monday sided with a low court, ruling in favor of Monsanto Co. that a Mississippi farmer who re-used the company's patented, genetically modified soybeans as seeds should be punished, reported.

St. Louis-based Monsanto sued Homan McFarling in 1999 alleging he violated the licensing agreement that the company's seeds of GM soybeans should not be saved from a previous year's crop for use in the next season.

The company won $375,000 in damages and McFarlin's lawyers said the penalty is excessive.

Soybeans are one of the major crops in the United States that have been genetically modified.  Much of soybean, corn, canola and cotton seed oil and wheat in the country have been genetically modified.

Genetically modified crops have never been tested fully for their safety, critics say.  Russian studies even showed that GM soybeans are toxic to mice at least.

Monsanto's soybeans in this case are bioengineered to withstand Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, enabling farmers to use more herbicide without damaging the soybean crops.  
Studies reported that introduction of GMO crops actually have increased use of pesticides and herbicides.

McFarling's problem is that he saved seeds from the 1998 crop and re-used the seeds in 1999 and 2000.  Monsanto said a "technology agreement" McFarling signed restricted him to re-planting the seeds for the next season.

Monsanto is one of a few largest companies that control the rights of seeds.  Readers now may understand why agricultural companies are so aggressive in pursuing genetically modified crops or animals.   Once they eradiate the conventional crops and animals, farmers will have to buy seeds year after year from seeds companies.

McFarling may not be alone facing challenges from the giant agricultural business.  According to the Center for Food Safety which opposes the suit, Monsanto filed lawsuits against about 100 farmers for the same cause.

For more information on genetically modified crops, read at

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