Archive for the ‘Food security’ Category

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Shape of things to come

May 19, 2009


I have written on the shape of things to come before here. Disturbing trends are converging at a rapid rate which portend an entirely different future than humans have imagined (except in science-fiction).

Three articles below stand out as huge milestones in the relentless march toward a New World Order: sophisticated human implants, corporation monopolies of food production and the alliance of China and Russia politically. The vehicle of implementing surveillance through implants and DNA collection, could very well be world hunger as corporations have taken over food production.

When I first blogged on these issues, I was alarmed. But finding the ongoing progress of technology to control the masses, I am beginning to fear the road ahead for us. Not that I have a solution – but the first step in definitely being aware.

Saudi ‘Killer Chip’ Implant Would Track,
Eliminate Undesirables

05-17-2009
Source

It could be the ultimate in political control — but it won’t be patented in Germany.

German media outlets reported last week that a Saudi inventor’s application to patent a “killer chip,” as the Swiss tabloids put it, had been denied.

The basic model would consist of a tiny GPS transceiver placed in a capsule and inserted under a person’s skin, so that authorities could track him easily.

Model B would have an extra function — a dose of cyanide to remotely kill the wearer without muss or fuss if authorities deemed he’d become a public threat.

The inventor said the chip could be used to track terrorists, criminals, fugitives, illegal immigrants, political dissidents, domestic servants and foreigners overstaying their visas.

“The invention will probably be found to violate paragraph two of the German Patent Law — which does not allow inventions that transgress public order or good morals,” German Patent and Trademark Office spokeswoman Stephanie Krüger told the English-language German-news Web site The Local.
Click to enlarge pic.

The 21st century’s bleak harvest


Rising food prices increased the aid dependency of developing countries [GALLO/GETTY]

By Asif Mehdi, development practitioner
Source

As the world staggers from one economic crisis to another, it seems easy to forget the global food crisis that occupied centre stage in 2008.

World prices for essential grains more than doubled between 2006 and 2008.

Rice, the staple food of most of Asia, doubled in price in just seven months. And, despite their commitments to trade liberalisation, a few significant grain-exporting developing countries rushed to protect domestic grain stocks by banning exports.

The poor, who typically spend between 50 and 70 per cent of their meagre incomes on food, were most affected by the crisis.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, the food crisis raised the number of undernourished people from 923 million to more than one billion by this year.

In late 2007 and 2008, the crisis caused food riots in at least 15 countries across the world, from Brazil to Bangladesh, and international media and forums spoke of little else.

Then, as suddenly as it struck, declining prices relegated the food crisis to collective global amnesia.

Causes not addressed

However, while prices for grains and foods have declined in 2009, they are still higher than pre-crisis levels and the fundamental causes of their volatility have not disappeared.

The international economic system has witnessed a dramatic disbanding of trade and investment barriers.

However, the international market for agricultural commodities, the nature of industrial agriculture, changing consumption patterns and international finance all threaten to make food price volatility and food insecurity a recurrent feature of the early 21st century.

Agriculture offers a textbook case of international market distortion. And in this case, the market distortion is created by precisely the developed countries that extol the virtues of free markets.

Double standards

The developed world protects its domestic agriculture with any number of subsidies and technical barriers to trade.

In 2006, for example, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimated that agricultural subsidies in OECD member countries were about $230bn.

In contrast to the magnitude of those subsidies, Official Development Assistance from OECD member states amounted to $120bn (the US alone had a military budget of $600bn in 2007).

The agricultural subsidies cover a host of measures – from domestic price support, to compensation to farmers for maintaining fallow land, to export price subsidies to dumping, some of which is disguised as food aid.

Paradoxically, international trade negotiations and, more importantly, International Monetary Fund (IMF) lending conditions expect developing countries to remove agricultural subsidies and liberalise domestic markets to imported foods.

While these measures allow for the increased availability of food, they have also eroded domestic agriculture and impoverished the rural economy, often in the most economically fragile states.

It was not surprising that the most impoverished countries were unable to meet the international price surge with increased domestic production, or the release of buffer stocks of staple food commodities.

In fact, those countries became ever more aid dependent as governments struggled to find the resources to pay the bills for imported food (and fuel), in the face of sharpened threats of hunger and undernourishment.

Industry domination

The opening of developing country markets does not benefit the average farmer in the developed world.

The international agricultural industry is dominated by a few grain, seed, chemicals and oil companies.

Such is their market power that three companies control the global grain trade and one company controls 60 per cent of seed production.

The grain trading conglomerates have unchecked market power to hoard and influence world prices.

Seed companies have employed breakthroughs in biotechnology to produce seeds that are compatible only with certain brands of pesticide or supply patented terminator seeds which germinate just once, and therefore the seed from a harvest cannot be used to grow a second crop.

This last feature of the seed business ensures a seed serfdom for the farmer, who cannot set aside part of the harvest for replanting.

It is no wonder, then, that the profits of the grain traders soared to astronomical heights in 2007, in one case up by 60 per cent over the previous year.

And it is no wonder that small farmers are bankrupted by one crop failure because of their inability to afford to buy or finance the procurement of seed for a new crop.

Industrialised agriculture

The other facet of industrialised agriculture is its energy intensity and reliance on hydrocarbon resources, whether as fertiliser or as fuel.

The poorest were most seriously impacted by rising food prices [GALLO/GETTY]
During the heyday of the Green Revolution, one study noted that between 1945 and 1994 US energy input for agriculture increased four-fold while crop yields only increased three-fold.

Since then, energy input has continued to increase without a corresponding increase in crop yield.

Barring a breakthrough in seed technology, industrial agriculture has reached a point of diminishing marginal returns from energy usage.

In addition, the fact that oil resource availability has peaked suggests that oil prices will be on a long-term increase, thereby increasing the costs of food production.

Given the nature of the financial crisis in developed countries, it is highly doubtful that governments will have the fiscal resources to increase subsidies to the agricultural sector, in order to contain the increase in prices.

For the developing world, fiscal constraints on governments and the likely drying up of development assistance will have the same impact.

Food to fuel

The recent movement in the developed world to produce bio-fuels is yet another factor propelling the price of grains.

A World Bank study, prepared in April 2008, pointed out that a third of US corn production goes to produce ethanol and half the vegetable oils produced in the EU to the production of biodiesel.

This diversion from food to fuel is subsidised extensively, while imports from Brazil (which has had the longest standing and most extensive bio ethanol production) are subjected to tariff barriers that effectively prohibit imports of Brazilian ethanol into these markets.

Commodity speculators, seeing the potential from increased demand for grains in these subsidised programmes, drove up futures commodity prices which in turn raised current prices in grain markets.

The same World Bank study contends that 75 per cent of the food price increase was due to bio-fuels, a figure hotly contested by the Bush administration at the time.

An International Food Policy Research Institute study asserts that the effect was somewhat less, at 30 per cent of the food price increase.

Ideology of the rich

The financial crisis in itself was a cause for the food price hike.

While prices rose steadily through 2006 and 2007, the latter half of 2008 saw a sharp increase in prices, in a so-called price spike.

However, little had changed in the fundamental conditions of supply or demand to cause such dramatic market adjustments.

If the financial crisis reduces aid another food crisis could be devastating[GALLO/GETTY]
By now it is clearly evident that as the unregulated and complex financial sector of the US was facing the unfolding effects of the real estate bubble, trillions of dollars moved across sectors and spaces and invested in food and primary commodities, causing another price bubble, this time of an altogether more serious consequence.

The simultaneous inflation of oil and food futures caused cost increases in the production of food while inflating its trading prices at the same time.

It seems that finance had run out of opportunities for profit, so it turned to the earth as a means of generating speculative profit, whether through real estate or primary commodities and food.

As the more recent financial crisis has shown, there is no regulatory capacity to stop such profiteering from reoccurring.

These are the difficult prospects and consequences of a world run by the ideology of the rich and powerful.

Development lessons

There are development lessons to be learned here.

First, food security is an issue requiring long-term international effort and food security demands that local agriculture be able to supply domestic needs wherever possible and that reserve stocks are garnered for difficult times.

Second, the developing nations are justified in holding out in the Doha Round of trade negotiations until real and tangible concessions are made with regard to trade in agricultural products.

Third, national development efforts need to be replenished with such ‘old fashioned’ endeavours as investing in rural production, water availability and the empowerment of the small farmer.

Economic history shows us that industrialisation was preceded by agricultural transformations, with the state playing a heavy role.

And economic history is a better guide to policy than the theorising of free marketers serving powerful corporate interests.

Asif Mehdi works in international development with an international intergovernmental organisation and has worked extensively in Asia and Africa during his 29-year career as a development practitioner.

The views expressed by the author are not necessarily those of Al Jazeera.

China’s top legislator: China-Russia partnership
enjoys fast growth

05-17-2009
Source

The strategic partnership of cooperation between China and Russia is currently showing all-round momentum and rapid growth as high-level contacts remain frequent, China’s top legislator said in Moscow on Wednesday.

Wu Bangguo, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, made the remark during a meeting with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev.

Wu, who arrived in Moscow on Wednesday for an official goodwill visit, said he appreciates the frequent contact between leaders of the two countries.

He said Medvedev’s visit to China last year helped lay the foundation for continuous growth of the strategic partnership between the two countries.

Medvedev said that he and Chinese President Hu Jintao held their first meeting this year during the London G20 summit in April. He expressed the wish that they will have more meetings later this year.

The Russian president said he expects Hu to pay a state visit to Russia in June. Medvedev also expects to meet with Hu during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit and the summit of “BRIC” countries, namely Brazil, Russia, India and China, later this year.

China and Russia this year also are to hold a series of activities to mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties.

Wu and Medvedev stressed the importance of parliamentary exchanges between the two countries, saying they reflect the high level of development of the China-Russia partnership of strategic cooperation.

Wu said the strong China-Russia partnership is reflected in such areas as frequent contacts between top leaders of the two countries, the staging of “Russian Language Year” in China, the signing of an oil cooperation agreement between the two governments, and exchanges between the NPC and the Russian parliament.

Russia, Medvedev said, places high importance on parliamentary exchanges and cooperation between the two countries.

The Russian president also said Wu’s visit reflects the momentum of fast growth in bilateral links.

Source: Xinhua

http://paper.people.com.cn/rmrb/html/2009-05/14/content_252734.htm

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News you WANT to read – Microfinance

January 29, 2009

Most people have never heard of microfinance; maybe 1 in 100 might have a foggy notion of what it is. Yet it is the most powerful tool the world has seen to help end poverty and empower the indigenous businesses of the poor in any country.

I will provide a brief overview here and then list many urls for anyone who is interested in learning more and who has a desire to help poor people help themselves. The concept has never been more relevant than now during the financial meltdown of global economy.

In 1976 an man in Bangledesh named Muhammad_Yunus began lending small amounts of money to very poor rural women to help them start small businesses to support their families. There was and still is no loan contract, no penalties for defaulting on the loans (except the person could not borrow again) and the repayment rate is over 95%. In 2006, Yunus won a Nobel Peace Prize for the incredible success of his work.

In fact, now 30 years later, microfinance is everywhere it seems, even helping the poor of New York City. The concept has reached the time when it flowers into hope for millions of poor people the world over.

For anyone who has ever thought, ‘I wish I could help, but charities are corrupt and I don’t know how.’ microfinance is a program well worth knowing about. The stories will touch your soul and give hope in a world that sadly needs it.

I hope you will enjoy the material I have provided here and spread the good word. Recently a man has had the brilliant idea to take Microfinance to the internet on a site called Kiva. It has been wildly successful.

Microfinance is not only a proven way to alleviate poverty but a way to find hope in an increasingly dismal world. And it follows the age old wisdom of helping by allowing people to help themselves without funds siphoned off by corrupt governments and dodgy charities.

Have a looksee. I think you will be as impressed as I have been. And if you are, please spread the word.

The real story of Kehinde Azeez.

Recent articles about Microfiance.

Good News in the Global Economy

Students start Olneyville microfinance bank

Liberia Gets First Microfinance Bank

‘Lend to End Poverty’ Campaign Calls On World Economic Forum to …

A stimulus package for the world

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The world in 2035

January 19, 2009

I wish I could say the following article is the Sci-fi plot of a new novel: it is not. The future as envisioned by the Ministry of Defence below is highly probable. Much supporting evidence is listed under ‘Related’ at the end of the article for those who like research.

The question which begs to be asked is this: What sort of earth could we have created if we hadn’t spent most of our money on War technology and Wealth accumulation?

Revolution, flashmobs, and brain chips.
A grim vision of the future

Richard Norton-Taylor
Monday 9 April 2007
Source

Information chips implanted in the brain. Electromagnetic pulse weapons. The middle classes becoming revolutionary, taking on the role of Marx’s proletariat. The population of countries in the Middle East increasing by 132%, while Europe’s drops as fertility falls. “Flashmobs” – groups rapidly mobilised by criminal gangs or terrorists groups.

This is the world in 30 years’ time envisaged by a Ministry of Defence team responsible for painting a picture of the “future strategic context” likely to face Britain’s armed forces. It includes an “analysis of the key risks and shocks”. Rear Admiral Chris Parry, head of the MoD’s Development, Concepts & Doctrine Centre which drew up the report, describes the assessments as “probability-based, rather than predictive”.

The 90-page report comments on widely discussed issues such as the growing economic importance of India and China, the militarisation of space, and even what it calls “declining news quality” with the rise of “internet-enabled, citizen-journalists” and pressure to release stories “at the expense of facts”. It includes other, some frightening, some reassuring, potential developments that are not so often discussed.

New weapons
An electromagnetic pulse will probably become operational by 2035 able to destroy all communications systems in a selected area or be used against a “world city” such as an international business service hub. The development of neutron weapons which destroy living organisms but not buildings “might make a weapon of choice for extreme ethnic cleansing in an increasingly populated world”. The use of unmanned weapons platforms would enable the “application of lethal force without human intervention, raising consequential legal and ethical issues”. The “explicit use” of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons and devices delivered by unmanned vehicles or missiles.

Technology
By 2035, an implantable “information chip” could be wired directly to the brain. A growing pervasiveness of information communications technology will enable states, terrorists or criminals, to mobilise “flashmobs”, challenging security forces to match this potential agility coupled with an ability to concentrate forces quickly in a small area.

Marxism
“The middle classes could become a revolutionary class, taking the role envisaged for the proletariat by Marx,” says the report. The thesis is based on a growing gap between the middle classes and the super-rich on one hand and an urban under-class threatening social order: “The world’s middle classes might unite, using access to knowledge, resources and skills to shape transnational processes in their own class interest”. Marxism could also be revived, it says, because of global inequality. An increased trend towards moral relativism and pragmatic values will encourage people to seek the “sanctuary provided by more rigid belief systems, including religious orthodoxy and doctrinaire political ideologies, such as popularism and Marxism”.

Pressures leading to social unrest
By 2010 more than 50% of the world’s population will be living in urban rather than rural environments, leading to social deprivation and “new instability risks”, and the growth of shanty towns. By 2035, that figure will rise to 60%. Migration will increase. Globalisation may lead to levels of international integration that effectively bring inter-state warfare to an end. But it may lead to “inter-communal conflict” – communities with shared interests transcending national boundaries and resorting to the use of violence.

Population and Resources
The global population is likely to grow to 8.5bn in 2035, with less developed countries accounting for 98% of that. Some 87% of people under the age of 25 live in the developing world. Demographic trends, which will exacerbate economic and social tensions, have serious implications for the environment – including the provision of clean water and other resources – and for international relations. The population of sub-Saharan Africa will increase over the period by 81%, and that of Middle Eastern countries by 132%.

The Middle East
The massive population growth will mean the Middle East, and to a lesser extent north Africa, will remain highly unstable, says the report. It singles out Saudi Arabia, the most lucrative market for British arms, with unemployment levels of 20% and a “youth bulge” in a state whose population has risen from 7 million to 27 million since 1980. “The expectations of growing numbers of young people [in the whole region] many of whom will be confronted by the prospect of endemic unemployment … are unlikely to be met,” says the report.

Islamic militancy
Resentment among young people in the face of unrepresentative regimes “will find outlets in political militancy, including radical political Islam whose concept of Umma, the global Islamic community, and resistance to capitalism may lie uneasily in an international system based on nation-states and global market forces”, the report warns. The effects of such resentment will be expressed through the migration of youth populations and global communications, encouraging contacts between diaspora communities and their countries of origin.

Tension between the Islamic world and the west will remain, and may increasingly be targeted at China “whose new-found materialism, economic vibrancy, and institutionalised atheism, will be an anathema to orthodox Islam”.

Iran
Iran will steadily grow in economic and demographic strength and its energy reserves and geographic location will give it substantial strategic leverage. However, its government could be transformed. “From the middle of the period,” says the report, “the country, especially its high proportion of younger people, will want to benefit from increased access to globalisation and diversity, and it may be that Iran progressively, but unevenly, transforms…into a vibrant democracy.”

Terrorism
Casualties and the amount of damage inflicted by terrorism will stay low compared to other forms of coercion and conflict. But acts of extreme violence, supported by elements within Islamist states, with media exploitation to maximise the impact of the “theatre of violence” will persist. A “terrorist coalition”, the report says, including a wide range of reactionary and revolutionary rejectionists such as ultra-nationalists, religious groupings and even extreme environmentalists, might conduct a global campaign of greater intensity”.

Climate change
There is “compelling evidence” to indicate that climate change is occurring and that the atmosphere will continue to warm at an unprecedented rate throughout the 21st century. It could lead to a reduction in north Atlantic salinity by increasing the freshwater runoff from the Arctic. This could affect the natural circulation of the north Atlantic by diminishing the warming effect of ocean currents on western Europe. “The drop in temperature might exceed that of the miniature ice age of the 17th and 18th centuries.”

Related

Revolution in Military Affairs: From Computer Generated Insurgents to Bioelectric Implants

Big brother

Robotics

Civil liberties

Biometrics

The Rockefeller roots of the United Nations
Video

8 years in 8 minutes
Video. How we got here (ahem).

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Calif cancels welfare and tax refunds

January 17, 2009

John Chiang announces that his office will suspend $3.7 billion in payments owed to Californians starting Feb. 1,because with no budget in place the state lacks sufficient cash to pay its bills.

Americans are ‘shocked and awed’ that they might actually experience third world conditions.
‘It can’t happen here!’ … famous last words. Read and weep.

California controller to
suspend tax refunds,
welfare checks, student grants

January 17, 2009
Source

By Evan Halper and Patrick McGreevy
Reporting from Sacramento — The state will suspend tax refunds, welfare checks, student grants and other payments owed to Californians starting Feb. 1, Controller John Chiang announced Friday.

Chiang said he had no choice but to stop making some $3.7 billion in payments in the absence of action by the governor and lawmakers to close the state’s nearly $42-billion budget deficit. More than half of those payments are tax refunds.

The controller said the suspended payments could be rolled into IOUs if California still lacks sufficient cash to pay its bills come March or April.

“It pains me to pull this trigger,” Chiang said at a news conference in his office. “But it is an action that is critically necessary.”

The payments to be frozen include nearly $2 billion in tax refunds; $300 million in cash grants for needy families and the elderly, blind and disabled; and $13 million in grants for college students.

Even if a budget agreement is reached by the end of this month, tax refunds and other payments could remain temporarily frozen. Chiang said a budget deal may not generate cash quickly enough to resume them immediately.

Not all payments will stop Feb. 1. Most school and healthcare programs will be paid, as required by state and federal law. The state will continue to pay more than $6.6 billion in such bills.

And Los Angeles County officials said they would cover welfare payments to more than 500,000 local recipients — for now.

But California is projected to be $346 million short of the funds it needs to pay all its bills in February. By March, the state would be so far in the red that even continuing to suspend payments would not cover the shortfall. California would be insolvent, making the issuance of IOUs likely.

State officials have already designed an IOU template, Chiang said, and have been negotiating with banks over whether taxpayers could cash or deposit them if they are issued. The state could be forced to pay as much as 5% interest on delayed tax refunds if they are not paid by the end of May, Chiang said.

The last time the state issued such IOUs — the only time since the Great Depression — was in 1992.

The suspension of payments is the latest radical move by officials to help keep the state from running out of cash as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature battle over how to avoid insolvency.

Schwarzenegger, who hopes to speed up public-works projects to stimulate the economy, wants tax increases, spending cuts and legislation to relax some environmental rules and allow private companies to do some government construction.

Democrats are seeking tax increases as well, but fewer spending cuts. Republican lawmakers would only pare spending and have been blocking any tax hikes.

Meanwhile, Schwarzenegger has ordered that most state workers take two days off per month without pay — equivalent to about a 10% pay cut. The governor also ordered most state offices — including all DMV field offices — to close on those two days. The order is being challenged in court by labor unions.

The state has also halted payments of bond money for more than 5,300 public-works projects.

On Friday, the state Department of Finance temporarily exempted 276 of the projects from the freeze, reasoning that because they are nearly complete, it could cost the state more to shut them down than to finish them.

The exemption, through Feb. 1, will allow the continuation of school construction by the Inglewood Unified School District and the construction of a new Court of Appeal facility in Santa Ana. Work on new rail tracks at L.A.’s Union Station and road projects involving Irwindale Avenue, Martin Luther King Boulevard and Imperial Highway in Los Angeles County will also be able to continue.

Some projects were exempted because the state is under court order to do the jobs. Others would threaten public safety if left uncompleted, according to Mike Genest, Schwarzenegger’s finance director.

“We’re going to take the risk of allowing them to continue a little longer because we are very hopeful will have a budget by Feb. 1,” Genest said.

Contractors lined up at a meeting of state finance officials to warn of the consequences of stopping the bulk of the public-works money. They said shutting down projects already underway would ultimately cost the state significantly. According to Caltrans Director Will Kempton, the state would have to pay $350 million in legal costs, claims for contract breaches and expenses for securing sites that go dormant.

“The bulk of those dollars are lost . . . to the taxpayers,” Kempton said. “You can’t just walk away from a construction project. You have to make sure it is buttoned up.”

It is not just the state that would take a hit. Some school districts relying on state funds do not have the reserves in place to cover the payments they will owe builders if work stops.

Counties are also feeling the pinch. They process the welfare payments scheduled to be halted by the controller’s office Feb. 1. The state is freezing those payments, along with millions of dollars in salaries to county workers who run the programs.

Some county officials say they don’t have reserves in place to cover the state until the budget crisis is resolved.

“We simply don’t have the cash,” said Pat Leary, assistant administrator for Yolo County. “We are in critically bad times.”

About a third of all state welfare payments go to Los Angeles County, where officials said they can shift money around to keep the payments flowing in the short term.

“The million-dollar question is how long this will last,” said L.A. County Chief Executive William T Fujioka. “We cannot sustain a huge and very long hit.”

evan.halper@latimes.com patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com Times staff writer Molly Hennessy-Fiske contributed to this report from Los Angeles.

Related

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Crop Cops – Big Brother in agriculture

January 17, 2009


Media Credit: dennisflood.com

Monsanto is ready to round up seed patent violators

Meghna Marjadi and Carolyn Yates
1/7/09
Source

Monsanto Canada Inc. will go to court on January 15 to settle a case with four farmers who allegedly illegally grew, harvested, and sold products developed from patented Monsanto seeds.

The McGill Tribune contacted the farmers involved, but none were willing to comment before they go to court.

The January hearing follows Monsanto’s December settlement with three Quebec farmers growing Roundup Ready canola without a license. The farmers agreed to pay $200 per acre.

Monsanto uses genetic engineering to produce the herbicide-resistant Roundup Ready, a line that includes seeds for regular and high-yield soybeans, canola, and high-yield corn. Monsanto also offers other lines of enhanced crops that provide insect protection, weed control, and higher yields. Currently, Monsanto holds between a 70 and 100 per cent market share of various genetically engineered crops.

Monsanto prosecutes farmers who use their patented products without a license. The company encourages people who suspect patent infringement to call a toll-free number to report their claims. In the instance of the Quebec farmers, Monsanto spokesperson Trish Jordan said that people in the area alerted Monsanto to the patent infringement.

“We were told by people in [the farmers’]area that they thought that these guys were growing Roundup Ready canola without a license,” says Jordan. “We checked their fields and it was Roundup Ready … They weren’t accused of it. They admitted that they knowingly planted seeds [without a license].”

But Monsanto’s field auditing techniques have come under criticism. The May 2008 issue of Vanity Fair included an account of Monsanto’s lawsuit against Gary Rinehart, the owner of a small country store in Eagleville, Missouri. Rinehart was charged by Monsanto with patent infringement-despite the fact that he neither farms nor deals with seeds-based on observations by investigator Jeffery Moore. After bringing Rinehart to court, Monsanto eventually realized Moore had accused the wrong person.

“Monsanto relies on a shadowy army of private investigators and agents in the American heartland to strike fear into farm country. They fan out into fields and farm towns, where they secretly videotape and photograph farmers, store owners, and co-ops; infiltrate community meetings; and gather information from informants about farming activities,” Vanity Fair reported.

Jordan, however, insists that Monsanto’s tactics are legitimate.

“We do audit surveys every year and 90 per cent [of farmers] go through the audit and have no issue with it. Obviously people who are stealing the technology are going to be a little bit more difficult to work with, but the audit program is conducted completely within the law,” says Jordan. “We cannot enter anybody’s land without their permission. If we believe there is an expected violation we have to, number one, work with the grower to resolve that, and number two, have evidence that that is indeed the case.”

In addition, Jordan notes that the people who complete the audits aren’t Monsanto employees, but are rather just contracted for the job.

The threat of random audits prevents most farmers who legally buy Monsanto seeds from breaching contract guidelines, but they don’t always address farmers who acquire seeds illegally.

“When a grower is purchasing seeds illegally in the first place, we are not going to know about [it] unless somebody tells us,” says Jordan. “Usually it could be another farmer, it could be a neighbour, it could be the local retail outlet. In those situations sometimes we check them out, and there are no issues: the guy has a contract and he is doing everything perfectly legally. In other situations that’s not the case, and that was the case with these three [Quebec] growers. They had never purchased the technology properly in the first place and they had used the seed.”

Farmers who purchase Monsanto seeds must sign a contract agreeing that they will not use the purchased seeds for more than one growing season or save any seeds from the season’s crop (traditionally, farmers keep seeds from one crop to use for the next). Instead, farmers who are Monsanto customers must purchase new Monsanto seeds every year.

“Agronomically, it’s going to give you your best chance at productive crop if you purchase new seed every year … If you’re a grower that feels adamant about saving and reusing seeds we have no problem with it. You can save and reuse seed all you want, just don’t save and reuse the seed that has our technology in it,” says Jordan. She admits that not everyone will agree with the agronomic benefits of buying new seed.

“I think there is a lack of knowledge,” says Professor Jasminder Singh from McGill’s Department of Plant Science. “But I understand that in some cases there are some self-pollinated crops where the seeds can be grown the next year, and in those cases sometimes companies want the farmers to still buy seeds from them.”

In the case of the Quebec farmers, the battle with Monsanto is over. But for the farmers in Ontario, and others, the worst is yet to come.