Runtime: 65m 48s | Release date: 2009
"We knew, by checking license plates, that Monsanto or people hired by Monsanto, were watching us constantly", says Percy Schmeiser. When the court ruled in Monsanto's favor, Percy countersued Monsanto for environmental pollution, seed destruction and slander. With the crop he had worked on for 50 years officially 'owned' by Monsanto, Percy launched a nationwide campaign defending farmers' rights. Monsanto did everything they could to stand in his way. "Monsanto is big,” came a voice down the telephone one night, “You can't win. We will get you. You will pay.”
Percy doesn't use Monsanto's popular herbicide 'Roundup'. "People have to ask themselves what are they really eating?" Percy asks of an outraged auditorium, "Monsanto said agent orange was safe, are we now to believe them when they say that 'Roundup' is safe?" Percy had no use for the canola seed Monsanto developed to resist 'Roundup'. Yet the court ruled that even if Monsanto's seed is in a crop by cross-pollination, they own the entire crop as a result of their patent. GMOs bring less yield than natural seeds and increase toxic food. "The people don't want GMOs; they don't want toxic foods,” Percy declares, "but there is no coexistence between GMO and non-GMO - it's just a matter of time before it’s all GMO.”
Monsanto has brought fines from $20, 000 to $100, 000 against several farmers, completely unaware that Monsanto's canola seed is mixed with their own. "The way the court system in America works is that whoever piles the most money on one side of the balance wins,” says Troy. He lost his case against Monsanto after coming up with $400, 000 in legal fees. Monsanto gives out leather jackets to farmers who disclose details of other farmers who they suspect of using the Monsanto seeds. It's a way of eliminating competitors and something which Percy's wife believes has changed the farming industry for good. "No one trusts anyone anymore,” she sighs.
Percy appeals the supreme court decision. While they find that the presence of Monsanto seeds in his field does infringe the patent, without exercising the patent by spraying 'Roundup' on his field, Percy is not liable to pay $200, 000 in fines. "Today is a personal victory,” Percy says with tears in his eyes, "Six years of personal struggle - we fought for the rights of farmers to plant their seed from year to year. We never thought it would come this far.”
But the court also ruled that Monsanto own the entire plant as a result of placing a gene in it. "The supreme court will have to revisit this judgement,” Percy explains undeterred. “Their decision means that a corporation can control anything they put their genes into or anything they put their patents on. We have more questions than answers now,” Percy continues, “Who owns life?” The definitive documentary on our increasingly genetically-modified world.
Terry I. Zakreski