The Classic David vs Goliath Struggle.....
"Monsanto Representatives" Continue to Spread False Information about Percy Schmeiser and the Trial
Is Monsanto's approach protecting licensed canola users or sheer intimidation of all farmers?
Since Monsanto launched their lawsuit against Percy Schmeiser, company representatives have repeated accused Percy Schmeiser of stealing or "brown bagging" their genetically altered seed and deliberately planting it in his fields. From the first time Schmeiser discovered volunteer canola growing in his fields, he has tried to rid his fields of the genetically engineered variety as he had developed his own seed from his 50 years of farming.
In Monsanto's original statement of claim, the following accusation was made:
The Defendants, as least as early as 1997, obtained canola seeds which are resistant to glyphosate from one or more persons licensed by the Plaintiff, Monsanto Canada Inc. The Defendants have planted or cause to be planted such seed on lands farmed by them including lands in the Rural Municipality of Bayne, Saskatchewan. The Defendants have grown and harvested crops grown from the said canola seeds. Further, the Defendants have prepared seed from said harvest, including cleaning and treatment with a fungicide, for replanting. The canola seeds and the crops and seeds cultivated and harvested from them are resistant to glyphosate and herbicides such as ROUNDUP which contain glyphosate as the active ingredient.
This allegation was completely withdrawn along with any claim for the 1997 crop in a subsequent amendment to the pleadings. The present Amended Statement of Claim makes no such allegation, nor is any claim asserted for the 1997 crop. Notwithstanding this, Monsanto representatives have persisted in accusing Percy Schmeiser of obtaining Roundup Ready canola throughout the trial and afterwards, in spite of having no proof.
During the trial, Mr. Aaron Mitchell, lead investigator for Monsanto candidly admitted that they had no proof of this allegation during his cross-examination. The lack of evidence in this regard came after an extensive investigation performed by Monsanto representatives and a private investigation firm hired by Monsanto.
Q And you suspected that he got it from one of your licensed users?
A No, we heard a rumour and we had lots of rumours in 1997 that we investigated. As a matter of fact the majority of rumours that we investigated did not come to be true, so a suspicion was not -- maybe that's even too strong a word, we had information that said someone might be doing so, so we'd follow up on it.
[June 8, 2000 page 85, lines 2 to 7]
Q What steps did Monsanto take to find the licensed user who may have sold boot-leg Roundup Ready canola to Mr. Schmeiser?
A We had investigators talk to various folks around the area to see what they heard and to see if there was anything definitive that we could follow up on.
Q Did you interview the 1996 growers?
A We interviewed some of them yes.
Q Did you interview all of them?
A I was not present so I'd have to go back to check to see if we interviewed all of them or not.
Q But the idea was to interview as many of them as possible?
A I know we interviewed several anyway.
Q Were your representatives instructed to keep their ears open?
A With the technology that we had because it was invisible and renewable we felt we always had to be vigilant on this technology so I think instructions we'd have with all our folks is to be vigilant. I mean it's not fair to people paying if other folks aren't, so we've instructed our folks to be vigilant everywhere.
Q So you instructed your representatives to keep their ears open in relation to this case, in particular?
A Certainly this case and in every other area that we are
[June 8, 2000, page 85, lines 12-26, page 86, lines 1-7]
Q And in spite of all this effort, you were not able to find the one licensed user or farmer who sold boot-leg canola seed to Mr. Schmeiser?
A We have no proof that anyone sold seed to Mr. Schmeiser.
Q Nor does Monsanto to your knowledge have anyone who witnessed such a thing?
A Not to my knowledge.
Q Nor does Monsanto have anyone who heard Percy Schmeiser admit to such a thing?
[June 8, 2000, page 87, lines 3-11]
Despite this testimony given by Aaron Mitchell of Monsanto, Monsanto representatives have accused Schmeiser of deliberately stealing the seed and planting it in his fields.
In December 2000, at the New Zealand Royal Commission of Genetic Modification, Chris Hodson, QC, representing the Life Sciences Network, stated that the Monsanto position in the Schmeiser trial was that he had deliberately planted its crops.
Hodson backtracked from this position when it was pointed out that the court documents showed that this allegation was withdrawn.
In February 2001 Schmeiser appeared before the Montana State House and Senate debating legislation delaying the introduction of GM wheat into the State. Also appearing before the legislators was Monsanto representative Doug Ryerson who attacked Percy Schmeiser instead of speaking about the legislation.
.....But a Monsanto scientist accused Schmeiser of lying to the committee.
"He did indeed plant it," said Doug Ryerson. " I think you'll find that Mr. Schmeiser has misrepresented himself here."
[Excerpt from the Great Falls Tribune, February 7, 2001, page 3M]
When confronted by the legislators about his statements, Mr. Ryerson withdrew his remarks and then apologized to Mr. Schmeiser and the Bills committee.
Craig Evans, General Manager of Biotech at Monsanto Canada has been quoted numerous times in the Western Producer about the case and had made repeated allegations of the amount of Roundup Ready canola in Schmeiser's fields. These results were disputed by scientists at the University of Manitoba where their independent tests indicated an existence of the Round Ready gene at considerably less levels than Monsanto's "quick tests."
Evans has also been quoted in a story on www.motherjones.com (the MoJo wire) that "not once did he call Monsanto, nor did he call his ag rep to come out and look at it and settle the problem."
Once again, a Monsanto representative is not providing the entire information as Percy Schmeiser had firstly contacted the local ag rep office in Humboldt, Saskatchewan after his spraying of the test strip in 1997. He had contacted the office again in 1998, 1999 & 2000.
He also has had numerous conversations with the federal Department of Agriculture from 1997-99.
This information was shared with Monsanto's legal counsel during discovery. To suggest that he didn't try to address the problem with the various agricultural departments is misleading.
Finally, it has recently come to Percy Schmeiser's attention that Monsanto representatives have stated that the canola with the Roundup Ready gene was "growing in rows" in fields, implying that he had intentionally planted it. Representatives have said this publicly, most recently by Monsanto representative Rob Ingratta, who spoke at the Ottawa Garden Club on Feb. 15, 2001. Mr. Ingratta said that the canola was seeded in neat and perfect rows. When challenged on this, Mr. Ingratta backed down.
According to the court documents, Monsanto never made any such allegation in court, nor produced any evidence indicating as such. The evidence that was produced showed that the canola that survived Schmeiser's test strip survived in clumps, not rows.
Furthermore, Percy Schmeiser testified that he had seeded all of his canola with an airseeder, which does not allow the seed to grow in neat and perfect rows.
It appears Monsanto's approach is to make unproven allegations and then hope that these allegations are not challenged. Their actions follow a consistent pattern of Monsanto representatives attacking Schmeiser's credibility and character. These actions are the basis for Schmeiser's counter-suit against Monsanto.
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