Posts Tagged ‘farmers’

Well, the folks at ETC have another view on the Enola Been Patent appeal decision that I wrote about yesterday. Hope Shand’s comments give a bitter-sweet taste to what I saw as a happy ending of a tale that started out as a horror story. I have admired the work of Hope and Pat, RAFI and ETC, for many years. I agree with her on her points, but disagree with the PR approach on this one.

Specifically, I agree that the damage to farmer livelihoods should be addressed (and that is the bitterest piece of all), and recognize that, as in most court cases, Proctor’s lawyers delayed the process to suit their clients advantage, I am less inclined to see it as a “hollow” victory, which strongly implies that it is without meaning. It has meaning, it just doesn’t result in a full measure of justice. Unfortunately, justice will not be a meal served in a single course.

The patent system is a mess. Concentrated corporate interests influence the entire political process and as such PTO. A complete institutional overhaul is needed to address concentration in the agricultural sector, corporate influence on politics, dangerous technologies and practices, and our overall regulatory approach to plant genetic systems. But, I don’t think we can realistically expect change to come in any manner other than small victories that build cultural recognition of the issues and political reformation. I don’t see a revolution welling up outside the door to demand reform. I’d like to see Prius filled streets of Port Townsend – where everyone’s a “locavore” but government policy glazes peoples eyes – filled with pitchfork wielding populist radicals. In fact I offer tine sharpening services. But we also have to set realistic objectives, with accomplishments that we can attain, or it’s all doom and gloom.

I think that ETC, CGIAR, and others should pat themselves on the back for remaining vigilant, seeing this case to its current status, and continuing the fight. Don’t break any arms doing it, but we have to celebrate even small victories when the daily news on the agricultural front is constantly filled with such disastrous tides. Wow I sound like my mom, the preschool teacher, writing about giving gold stars – but I believe it is true. Don’t rest on laurels or imagine them more grand than they are, but an overly dark approach doesn’t do much to fuel those of us who continue to work for change. The Enola case helps builds a foundation. Bittersweet, but a victory nonetheless. I’m grateful for all the work that those on the case have put into it. And for the continued fight from folks like ETC.

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Organic canola farmers in Canada have been involved in a longstanding suit against Monsanto asking for compensation for the loss of their organic market due to “extensive contamination of canola seed and cross-pollination by GMO varieties.” The denial by the Supreme Court is not based on the merits of the case, but on it as a class action, and the plaintiff’s plan to continue the fight. More info the recent action and the background of this story at: http://www.cban.ca/

An old principle of English common law that made it’s way over to the North Americam colonies was that of “Neighborhood Effect”. Summed up, we have good neighborhood effect when I grow apples and you, my neighbor, raise bees. You get honey from my flowers, I get pollination from your workers. We cross the fence for the good. Bad neighborhood effect is when I raise flowers and you raise cattle and your cattle get into my field. In common law you were expected to pay damages, and to keep your cattle contained. It’s pretty simple. My kids get it (“when the music in your room keeps me awake, we have an issue with neighborhood effect”). The courts don’t???

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