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Schmeiser likely to move forward soon with lawsuit against Monsanto

by Robert Schubert
CropChoice editor

(Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser likely will move forward in the next month with a lawsuit filed against Monsanto in May 1999 in the Court of Queen's Bench in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The claim charged that the company's genetically engineered canola -- Roundup Ready Canola -- caused environmental harm in western Canada and contaminated Schmeiser's conventional canola crops. It also stated that Monsanto, in its investigation of Schmeiser for patent infringement, trespassed on his land and defamed him through its public relations statements.

Two excerpts from the claim read as follows: "...The Plaintiffs state that in 1996, 1997 aand 1998 many farmers in the Rural Municipality of Bayne, and in western Canada, purchased Roundup Ready Canola. Farmers purchasing the Roundup Ready Canola were not warned about the potential harm to the environment caused by Roundup Ready volunteer canola. In particular, no warnings were given to farmers to keep a buffer zone to minimize the flow of pollen, to ensure all farm trucks haulign the seed were properly and securely tarped, to thoroughly clean all farm machinery after entering fields where the genetically-modified crop was being grown, and to warn neighbors that Roundup might not be effective on volunteers emanating from the genetically-modified crop...

"Schmeiser Enterprises Ltd., states that the Defendants knew, or ought to have known, that the introduction of the genetically-modified canola into the Rural Municipality of Bayne without any or, in the alternative, proper, safeguards would result in genetically-modified canola infiltrating and contaminating Land farmed by Schmeiser Enterprises Ltd."

Schmeiser said his lawyer will make several amendments to the 1999 claim before officially restarting the lawsuit, which has languished because of Monsanto's action against Schmeiser for patent infringement.

"We never dreamed that Monsanto's suit against me would last, going on five years," Schmeiser said. He is awaiting word from the Supreme Court of Canada whether it will hear his appeal of two lower court decisions in favor of Monsanto.

Trish Jordan, a spokesperson for Monsanto Canada, said she would not comment on Schmeiser's case until it is officially restarted.