Tuesday, April 9

What are the consequences of one company holding a near-monopoly on a large part of our food supply?

Monsanto has a near monopoly on the seeds that grow much of the U.S. food supply, and right now there doesn't seem to be much that anyone can do about it.
"Farmers who buy Monsanto's patented seeds must sign an agreement that they will not save seed for planting in a subsequent year, but will buy new seeds every year from the company. They also pay a per-acre 'royalty' for using the company’s seeds.
"Monsanto typically enters a farmer's land (some would call it trespassing) and takes samples (some would call it stealing), and then has the samples DNA-tested for their patented genes. If any appear, they sue the farmer and, since farmers are notoriously outgunned, legally and financially, they end up settling for an undisclosed amount with the company. The amount is undisclosed because, along with the settlement, there is a gag order and the farmer is coerced into agreeing not to discuss the case with anyone. Few farmers have enough money to take on the corporation."
Monsanto Keeps on Moving Toward a Lock on the World’s Food System

Supreme Court Appears to Defend Patent on Soybean (NYT)