Monsanto’s Harvest of Fear

Dandelion Salad

Monsanto already dominates America’s food chain with its genetically modified seeds. Now it has targeted milk production. Just as frightening as the corporation’s tactics–ruthless legal battles against small farmers–is its decades-long history of toxic contamination.

by Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele
May 2008

Gary Rinehart clearly remembers the summer day in 2002 when the stranger walked in and issued his threat. Rinehart was behind the counter of the Square Deal, his “old-time country store,” as he calls it, on the fading town square of Eagleville, Missouri, a tiny farm community 100 miles north of Kansas City.

The Square Deal is a fixture in Eagleville, a place where farmers and townspeople can go for lightbulbs, greeting cards, hunting gear, ice cream, aspirin, and dozens of other small items without having to drive to a big-box store in Bethany, the county seat, 15 miles down Interstate 35.

Everyone knows Rinehart, who was born and raised in the area and runs one of Eagleville’s few surviving businesses. The stranger came up to the counter and asked for him by name.

“Well, that’s me,” said Rinehart.

As Rinehart would recall, the man began verbally attacking him, saying he had proof that Rinehart had planted Monsanto’s genetically modified (G.M.) soybeans in violation of the company’s patent. Better come clean and settle with Monsanto, Rinehart says the man told him—or face the consequences.

Rinehart was incredulous, listening to the words as puzzled customers and employees looked on. Like many others in rural America, Rinehart knew of Monsanto’s fierce reputation for enforcing its patents and suing anyone who allegedly violated them. But Rinehart wasn’t a farmer. He wasn’t a seed dealer. He hadn’t planted any seeds or sold any seeds. He owned a small—a really small—country store in a town of 350 people. He was angry that somebody could just barge into the store and embarrass him in front of everyone. “It made me and my business look bad,” he says. Rinehart says he told the intruder, “You got the wrong guy.”

When the stranger persisted, Rinehart showed him the door. On the way out the man kept making threats. Rinehart says he can’t remember the exact words, but they were to the effect of: “Monsanto is big. You can’t win. We will get you. You will pay.”



Letter to Hillary about Monsanto connections (02.03.08)

The World According to Monsanto – A documentary that Americans won’t ever see (full video)


23 thoughts on “Monsanto’s Harvest of Fear

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  4. In the fifty plus years that i have been taking up space on this planet i have witnessed the transformation from agriculture to agribusiness. I have watched the family farm struggle and die , in some cases the farmers subsidize their incomes by working in factories trying to hold on to the dreams of their fore fathers. Now with the world economy and cheap labour in faraway lands that source of income is drying up , leaving many farmers with the realization that their days are numbered. Farms in foreclosure and for sale, usually to the equestrian class. The death of the family farm has left us in a very vulnerable position. We rely on food grow by the mega corporations , that is transported from afar to our tables. Local agriculture was a strength that has been lost to the greed of agribusiness. Look at B.T: cotton in India and what monsanto has done to the many naturally drought resistant varieties of corn in mexico. The green revolution has turned out to be another disaster waiting to happen. Haiti has been struggling with similar business interests for decades. Monsanto has a research facility at our world renowned agriculture university .The university of guelph ontario, canada..Most don’t understand the the seriousness of our situation. Many aboriginal people in canada have been protecting heritage seed for the future generations. A little hope… If we leave the bases of life, e.g.. food , water and fresh air to the corporations we will suffer dire consequences . Who will you be fighting for the last tin of beans???

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  11. Pingback: The World According to Monsanto - A documentary that Americans won’t ever see (full video) « Dandelion Salad

  12. Some more (shorter) links about the next generation ‘Terminator’ or ‘Suicide’ seeds, which are sterile, and also “Zombie” seeds.

    “Zombie crops would be engineered to produce sterile seeds that could be brought back to life with the right treatment – probably a chemical sold by the seed companies. Zombie seeds would force farmers not only to pay for new seeds but for chemicals to make the seeds they save viable. This would create a new perpetual monopoly for the seed industry.” (All you need to know about Terminator Seeds) (No green light for Terminator technology)

  13. “But seeds have been blown into their fields by wind or deposited by birds. It’s certainly easy for G.M. seeds to get mixed in with traditional varieties when seeds are cleaned by commercial dealers for re-planting.”

    There several other factors in contamination too.

    “For those farmers who do find and plant seed free of genetic contamination, the crop can still become tainted by harvest time when seed is spilled or blown from passing trucks, or is carried onto the farm by animals and birds. Additionally, farmers will often rent or share expensive equipment like combines, which frequently contain seeds left over from a previous harvest. Farmers who save their seeds have experienced contamination when they bring their non-genetically engineered seed to the local seed cleaner or cotton gin, and it is inadvertently mixed with another farmer’s engineered seeds. With all these sources of contamination, it is no wonder that so many farmers are finding their fields tainted with patented genetically engineered traits.” – Monsanto vs US Farmers – A Report by the Center for Food Safety

    “Even if a farmer doesn’t buy G.M. seeds and doesn’t want them on his land, it’s a safe bet he’ll get a visit from Monsanto’s seed police if crops grown from G.M. seeds are discovered in his fields.” (from the article above)

    “The most famous of all the Monsanto patent infringement cases involves Canadian canola farmer Percy Schmeiser. Monsanto’s genetically engineered canola was found on Schmeiser’s land, but it is undisputed that he neither purchased nor planted the company’s seed. For seven years Schmeiser fought to prove that the seed arrived on his land through genetic
    drift or from trucks carrying seed to grain elevators. Unfortunately, the lower courts were not concerned as to how the seed wound up on the land, only that Schmeiser knew he possessed Monsanto’s intellectual property and had not paid for it.” – Monsanto vs US Farmers – A Report by the Center for Food Safety

    For anyone who wants to investigate the issue further, the link below is a 2004 report (quoted above) from the Center for Food Safety. It provides much more detail on the issues outlined by the Vanity Fair article. (Monsanto vs US Farmers – A Report by the Center for Food Safety)

  14. Pingback: Letter to Hillary about Monsanto connections (02.03.08) « Dandelion Salad

  15. Bill Clinton appointed Monsanto people to key positions in his administration. The Clintons’ support for Monsanto is one of the many untold stories of this election. Voters in this country have a right to know exactly where the Clintons’ loyalties and priorities lie.

    1992: Michael Taylor was appointed FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Policy, a role created to expedite the approval process of genetically engineered foods. Prior to his appointment, Taylor was an attorney for Monsanto. Taylor went on to become Monsanto’s Vice-President.

    1993: Rufus Yerxa was nominated as U.S. deputy to the World Trade Organization. Prior to his apointment as one of the most powerful bureaucrats in the world regarding international trade policies, Rufus was Monsanto’s Chief Counsel.

    1996: Michael Kantor was appointed U.S. Secretary of Commerce. At that time, Kantor was also on the Board of Directors of Monsanto.

    2000: The White House appoints Carol Tucker Foreman as the sole “consumer advocate” on an international committee assessing genetically modified foods. Prior to her appointment, Foreman was a lobbyist for Monsanto.

  16. More and more weeds are becoming resistant to Round-up. GMO crops have never been shown to be safe, and have been shown to be toxic. Wildlife avoids GMO crops. That should tell us all we need to know. Farmers need to ban together and bring suit against Monsanto. I am sure that some enterprising lawyer will come up with something.

  17. Lo: I want to finish reading the article, but the page isn’t redirecting properly. I would like to show Monsanto to the door–actually to the toilet so I could flush them.

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