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In Context #11 (Spring, 2004, pp. 3-7); copyright 2004 by The Nature Institute

The Trouble with Genetically Modified Crops
Craig Holdrege

I. Percy Schmeiser's Plight

In January, the Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser spoke in Albany, NY. The talk was arranged by the Regional Food and Farm Project in Albany and co-sponsored by The Nature Institute. Craig was asked to introduce Percy and had the opportunity to speak with him before the talk.

If it weren't true, you'd think you were hearing someone's worst nightmare, or a plot crafted by a Hollywood screenwriter. I mean the case of the Canadian Farmer, Percy Schmeiser.

Schmeiser, who is seventy-three years old, has a farm in Saskatchewan about 250 miles north of the U.S. border. He and his wife have spent fifty years as farmers, and for the last thirty years have been saving their canola seed in order to develop a hardy and pest-resistant variety adapted to their region. In 1998 Schmeiser received notice from the biotech company Monsanto that he was growing their genetically modified (GM), herbicide-resistant canola (so-called Roundup Ready canola) illegally. They accused him of patent infringement, since farmers are allowed to plant the GM variety only