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General News    H3'ed 12/15/08

Raids on Seeds (LIFE, itself) ... by Monsanto

Message Linn Cohen-Cole
I have been reporting on the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture's raids on Mennonite dairy farmers, on the recent Ohio Department of Agriculture SWAT team raid on an organic coop, on the USDA's terrible weapon against all farmers with animals (NAIS - the National Animal Identification System) - trying to give an idea of the destructive forces being used intentionally against non-corporate farming.  
But unless one sees what is happening to seeds themselves, one misses the scope of things. 
Life itself depends on seeds.  
Multinational biotech corporations such as Monsanto have been genetically engineering them, promoting GE-seeds as producing better yields, helping the starving of the world, using less pesticides and as a boon to small farmers.  
Independent studies already show crop failures 
and a link between GE-crops and organ damage and various
and it's clear they are designed to require petroleum-based pesticides and the use of pesticides has gone up with their use. 
But even if the GE-seeds were wonderful and all that was promised, the real problem with them are the patents they come with.  The biotech companies are monopolizing seeds themselves, actually privatizing the DNA of life.  They sell the GE-seeds at many times the price of normal seeds.  In India, where Bt-cotton farmers have been committing suicide in huge numbers because of debt, Monsanto sells Bt-cotton seed at 1000% higher than normal seeds.
And the seeds come with a contract that must be signed, preventing farmers from collecting seeds off their own land at the end of the season - an historic rupture of humankind's free access to natural growth.  For it is important to notice that the biotech multinationals are not just claiming a patent on their process of altering the seeds but claim to own growth itself.
As astounding a move as that is on human resources of survival, they are doing more.  They are removing actively and aggressively and thoroughly removing access to normal "open pollinated" seeds, the ones we have known since the beginning of time, that farmers have collected and saved and shared among each other.
In the Midwest, where Monsanto sells GE-corn and GE-soy and now owns most of it, it also bought up the "normal seed" companies so farmers no longer have places to go for normal corn or soy.  And though GE-corn cross pollinates over miles and miles with normal corn so maintaining organic corn is nearly impossible now, if its GE-crop is found on a farmer's land, Monsanto sues.  It's a rare farmer who can stand up them, even if the farmer has done nothing wrong.
Having bought up the normal seed companies, having locked farmers in the Midwest (only an example, it is true worldwide) into patent contracts that remove their right to collect seeds anymore, having set loose a biotechnology that contaminates normal seeds of farmers who do not buy into the patented seeds, having made plain it will sue if even a volunteer plant comes up, Monsanto is now working to eliminate the last man standing between humans and corporate privatized seeds - the seed cleaner.
The farmers has had three choices - to buy normal seed (now almost gone), to buy GE-seeds at huge cost (and going
or to collect their own seeds and use them the next season.  If a farmer has even 10 acres, collecting and cleaning those seeds is a huge task.  If he has 1000, it  would be an impossible task without the seed cleaner whose equipment can separate out seed in just a few hours and whose costs are 1/3 that of buying normal seed.  
Thus, the move to eliminate seed cleaners.   
The seed cleaner is the man who makes sustainable agriculture possible.
So, Monsanto is picking off seed cleaners now across the Midwest, in Missouri, 
in Indiana,
and now in Illinois where they are going after Steve Hixon.

Shortly after someone broke into Mr. Hixon's office and he found his account book on his truck seat where he would never have left it, evey one of his remotely located and very scattered customers had three men (described as goons with "no necks") arrived at each farm, going out onto it without permission, and serving close to 200 farmers.  Mr. Hixon and state police who were called in, believe a GPS tracking device may have been put on Mr. Hixon's equipment.  All of his customers being sued and are being intensely pressured to settle, with the men coming back again and again and with daily calls and letters.  It appears they are being a choice between being sued or settling out of court or testifying against him that he encouraged them to clean GE-seeds.  

Monsanto has made a fortune on those kinds of Mafia extortion settlements since no one has the money to stand up to them and paying them off some huge amount even if the farmer has done nothing, saves them from legal costs they can't possibly manage and then a potentially worse fate as one little local lawyer goes up against not one but multiple legal teams working for Monsanto and present in court. 
The first words out of the judge's mouth when Moe Parr, a seed cleaner in Indiana was sued, were "It's a honor to have a fine company like Monsanto in my courtroom."

In addition to the personal attacks on seed cleaners, Monsanto is getting laws put into place that themselves are overwhelming and destructive of seed cleaners and all those who save normal seeds.

If Monsanto can eliminate seed cleaners, they would have accomplished a TOTAL monopoly in the Midwest, the bread basket of the world, and they would control world food, feed and now bio-fuel prices at will.  They would, as well, have broken the fragile dam that seed cleaners and seed bankers now provide against the insanely-fast and just plain insane on-coming tide genetic engineering.

And Monsanto is working closely with the FDA in redefining seeds as a potential health hazard, subject to bioterrorism, and under that rubric to create rules for importation (controlling access)


               Interim final rules on Prior Notice of Importation

rules for registering acceptable facilities (setting up corporate standards for the storage seeds, threatening small farmers)

rules for talking police control of the seeds (allowing for raids on farmers)
and rules for a level of record keeping almost impossible for small farmers and ordinary people to achieve.


"These new rules will allow FDA to better identify potentially dangerous foods, as well as respond more quickly to new threats and to handle foodborne illness outbreaks more efficiently." 

Using the Bioterrorism Act and the Food Emergency Response Network (FERN), the FDA now has a focus on seeds which includes

  • Prevention (federal and state surveillance sampling programs to monitor the food supply)
  • Preparedness (strengthen laboratory capacity and capabilities)
  • Response (surge capacity to handle terrorist attacks or a national emergency involving the food supply), and
  • Recovery (support recalls, seizures, and disposal of contaminated food or feed to restore confidence in the food supply).
For those of you painfully familiar with what is happening to real milk dairy farmers and the government use of false "contamination" reports to raid farms, steal products ad equipment and terrorize and destroy farmers, it will be important to see how "bioterrorism" has now moved control over normal food even more tightly into the hands of government/corporate agencies, giving them national reach, crushing regulations for farmers, immense policing power over food,  and the use of an emergency to be able to seize and destroy anything they choose.  
At the level of seeds, it is important note that Monsanto is promoting every part of this.
The laboratories that FERN uses represent the FDA, FSIS, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Defense, Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, the Agricultural Marketing Service, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and the Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Agency. Other federal members of the FERN include the Agricultural Research Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Department of Homeland Security, the Laboratory Response Network (LRN) and the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN).


The FDA talks about "a safety net" for human health but it is one defined by corporation and one that is closing on small farmers' existence.

And even the FDA's basic food safety is being "set" in a way aimed to destroy seed cleaners and (if you will notice in the short list below) organic farming itself.

FDA's guidance on good agricultural practices (GAPs) can be found in the

FDA Guide to Minimize Microbial Hazards for Fresh Fruit and Vegetables

where the key sources of contamination in seed production include: 

  • Agricultural water sources
  • Use of manure as fertilizer
  • Harvesting, transportation, and seed-cleaning equipment
  • Seed storage facilities
Please note the FDA does not include Monsanto's petroleum-based fertlizers or pesticides, or GE-labs, as potential sources of contamination.
In addition to buying on seed companies, suing farmers, eliminating seed cleaners, putting laws against seed cleaning and saving into place, influencing the FDA and Homeland Security regulations on seeds that set farmers up to lose theirs in "food safety" or "bioterrorism" raids, a law in Canada pushed by the FDA, USDA and the WTO (all heavily involved with Monsanto) would criminalize all natural substances.  Thought it initially seems to be "only" an attack by the pharmaceutical industry on all natural health substances, it would include seeds and seed banking.  And it would become law in the US - and without any ability to vote against it - if the North American Union is passed. 19/vitamin-c-about-to-be-made-illegal-in-canada.aspx?source=nl 
We need to understand that the effort to defend Steve Hixon, a seed cleaner, is an effort to defend the right of all of us and of our farmers worldwide to OPEN access to normal seeds.  We must protect those who collect and clean them and we must roll back the massive corporate efforts to utterly control them - by criminalizing any aspect of owning, growing, collecting, storing and re-using of them.  
Seeds are life and survival itself and our human right to access to them is being taken over.  That is why people are coming together now to help defend Steve Hixon, a seed cleaner.  
For those interested in joining FarmOn, a list aimed at providing funds to support the legal teams gathering to help Hixon, go to and request to sign on.

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Met libertarian and conservative farmers and learned an incredible amount about farming and nature and science, as well as about government violations against them and against us all. The other side of the fence is nothing like what we've been (more...)
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