Are farmers signing away their rights as well as the money that Monsanto took from them illegally?
In a worrying development (see article below), soy farmers from Mato Grosso, Brazil have settled with Monsanto in a royalties lawsuit that has dragged on since December 2010.
The settlement comes in spite of the farmers' stellar victory over Monsanto in the Supreme Court earlier this year, in which a judge ruled that Monsanto had been collecting royalties from farmers illegally.
At that time, the farmers' federation Famato was demanding that Monsanto pay back to the farmers double the amount improperly charged (http://www.gmwatch.org/index.phpoption=com_content&view=article&id=14844).
According to an attorney for the farmers, their claim would have led to the reimbursement of about 6.2 billion euros to five million farmers in Brazil:
Yet under the terms of the new agreement, Monsanto will only pay farmers 1 billion Brazilian Real. We haven't done the conversion calculations, but that's a lot less than 6.2 billion euros.
While Famato implies in the article below that the agreement is a positive step, it seems a bad deal for any farmer whose ambitions don't include becoming an indentured slave to Monsanto's failing GM technology.
Thus the farmers who want to claim the undefined "bonus" appear to be tied into planting Monsanto's RR2 stacked trait GM soy -- there's no chance of growing something other than Monsanto GM soy.
Even more concerning is that the farmers will sign up to "the declaration of principles that recognise the intellectual property rights on agricultural technologies". Currently, Brazil has strong laws to protect farmers' rights to save seed. Is this Monsanto's move to override Brazilian seed law with the Law of Monsanto?
We await more informed comment from Brazil on the detail of the agreement and the implications of these developments.
Monsanto closes deal with Famato and Mato Grosso unions on patent
Revistagloborural (Brazil), 24/7/13
GMWatch translation from the Portuguese
The Federation of Agriculture and Livestock of the State of Mato Grosso (Famato) and rural unions affiliated with it have reached a settlement with Monsanto that brings to an end a lawsuit launched against the company in December 2010 on the collection of royalties for the use of first-generation Roundup Ready (RR1) soybeans.
The agreement was reached on 23 July at a meeting of rural unions held at Famato.
Famato said in a statement that the agreement allows for the simplification of the system of remuneration for the use of the technology, granting a bonus directly to producers who adhere to a mutual settlement in relation to RR1 technology, development of improvements in the business model of GM soybeans, and the signing of the declaration of principles that recognise the intellectual property rights on agricultural technologies.
According to Famato, "These actions are part of a conscious effort of agricultural leaders and Monsanto to work together, aiming to bring innovation and a more positive direction for Brazilian agriculture."
After the approval [for import] of the new technology [RR2] by the Chinese government announced earlier this month, the agreement is another important step to advance the commercialization of second-generation GM soy (Intacta RR2), which is resistant to the herbicide glyphosate and to major caterpillar pests.
Producers of Mato Grosso challenged in court the collection of royalties from September 2010, claiming patent expiry, and were victorious in the Superior Court of Justice (STJ). The agreement ending the process provides discounts in the next four years in the collection of royalties for the use of RR2 soybeans. According to the calculations of the producers, in Mato Grosso alone Monsanto would have to repay 250 million Brazilian Real for misappropriation of royalties, and in Brazil as a whole the amount would be 1 billion Brazilian Real.