Oct 22 2012

When is Patent Law like Environmental Law?

Published by under Land Use,Miscellaneous

Edge of a field of corn, via wikimedia

The answer: whenever Monsanto is involved. And now the company is heading to the Supreme Court.

Perhaps the most hated corporation in existence, Monsanto is a huge organization, best known for creating, selling, and, most importantly, patenting genetically engineered crops (GE crops) that are resistant to Monsanto’s brand of herbicide, Round-up. Commonly known as “Round-Up Ready” crops, Monsanto’s seeds include corn, alfalfa, and soybeans and are so widely used that pretty much everything we eat contains at least some GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms).

GE crops have several environmental implications. First, having crops which are resistant to toxic herbicides like Round-Up allow farmers to use more of them on their crops. This means that there’s more pesticides that can get swept up in stormwater runoff and end up in the water supply, causing havoc.

Second, because seeds are passed on very easily by pollinating animals, so-called “super weeds” are beginning to pop up unintentionally that are also resistant to herbicides. Stronger and more potent herbicides are needed in greater amounts in order to get rid of these, compounding the runoff problem and potentially removing a tool in the fight against invasive species. The same is happening with Monsanto’s line of pesticide resistant crops, where the very bugs the pesticide is targeting are becoming resistant as well (isn’t evolution wonderful?).

While these are very serious problems, the reason Monsanto is so reviled is more a result of the way it treats farmers. Because the genes themselves are patented, Monsanto is allowed to prosecute patent infringement rigorously and it does so to great effect. Monsanto has also been accused of harassing and intimidating farmers into settling rather than pursuing their cases, which usually works because of the incredible resource disparity between local farmers and a huge conglomerate like Monsanto. Of the cases that have made it to court (11 out of 145 according to Monsanto’s website) every single one has been decided in Monsanto’s favor. Continue Reading »

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Oct 12 2012

Twitter Link Round-Up: Environmental Issues in SCOTUS and Indonesian Palm Oil Increasing CO2 Emissions

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Photo by Kelci Block

Afraid you missed something interesting in the world of environmental law?  Read on for a (non-comprehensive) list of articles posted on our Twitter feed @WMELSBlog.

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Mar 16 2012

Twitter Link Round-Up: The Connection Between Fracking and Earthquakes and Oil Sands CO2 Emissions

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Photo by Kelci Block

Afraid you missed something interesting in the world of environmental law?  Read on for a (non-comprehensive) list of articles posted on our Twitter feed @WMELSBlog.

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Mar 02 2012

Twitter Link Round-Up: BP Oil Spill Trial Delayed and Wisconsin Considers Hunting Cranes

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Photo by Kelci Block

Afraid you missed something interesting in the world of environmental law?  Read on for a (non-comprehensive) list of articles posted on our Twitter feed @WMELSBlog.

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Jan 27 2012

Twitter Link Round-Up: Seaweed Could be the Next Alternative Fuel and Obama Rejects Keystone XL Pipeline

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Photo by Kelci Block

Afraid you missed something interesting in the world of environmental law?  Read on for a (non-comprehensive) list of articles posted on our Twitter feed @WMELSBlog.

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