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Rodney Nelson, Troy Roush, other farmers take their struggle to Indiana lawmakers

(Sept 9, 2001 – CropChoice news) – Rodney Nelson and Troy Roush on Friday spoke to Indiana state lawmakers about what they see as the hardships that transgenic crops are causing to family farmers.

"I think this’ll rock Monsanto’s world," said Nelson of the testimony that he, Roush and other farmers presented to what he considered to be receptive Indiana State senators and representatives from the joint agriculture committee. Although rules limited each speaker to 10 minutes, the legislators listened intently as Nelson spoke for 30 minutes about transgenic contamination of conventional crops, the possible anti-trust nature of Monsanto charging Argentine farmers significantly less money for genetically engineered corn and soybeans seeds than it does U.S. growers, and the lawsuits that Monsanto has brought against farmers.

The Nelson and Roush families are fighting separate but similar Monsanto lawsuits alleging infringement of the patent on the soybeans that the company engineered to resist its herbicide Roundup (glyphosate).

Nelson was surprised to hear a representative of the corporate-sponsored American Soybean Association say that the organization has urged Monsanto to obtain approval for any new biotechnology products from all foreign markets before commercialization. The company has not followed that advice.

"They (Monsanto) know they can’t get the approval, so they contaminate the planet quick" so that no one will have a choice but to grow and eat transgenic crops, Nelson said.

He thinks this is part of the "brilliant but morally corrupt" Monsanto game plan for South America. Argentine farmers pay a fraction of what their U.S. counterparts do for Roundup Ready seeds, pay no technology fees, and can save the seed. They also pay $13 per gallon for glyphosate (trade names such as Roundup are not used in Argentina) compared to the $40 per gallon that U.S. growers pay.

Although Brazil, on track to replace the United States as the world’s top grower and exporter of soybeans within a decade, disallows the cultivation of transgenic crops, the biotechnology industry has lobbied the Brazilian government intensely to change this. Were that to happen, it would be more difficult for Asian, European and U.S. buyers to find non-transgenic soybeans.

The way Nelson sees it, Monsanto, Pioneer, and other biotech companies will continue attacking U.S. family farmers and then, when Brazil legalizes genetically modified crops, raise prices for modified seeds and institute technology fees. If patent enforcement proved problematic, the industry could resort to the terminator gene. Once inserted into the genetic makeup of a seed, this gene terminates the its ability to reproduce. Thus, farmers would have to buy new seed every year, for saving sterile seed would be pointless.

Monsanto would not comment on any aspect of this story in accordance with its policy of not speaking with CropChoice.

(A story about the Roush family is forthcoming on CropChoice; to see stories about the Nelsons, visit http://www.cropchoice.com/leadstry.asp?recid=244, http://www.cropchoice.com/leadstry.asp?recid=326, http://www.cropchoice.com/leadstry.asp?recid=399. You can visit the Nelson and Roush websites at http://www.roushfarms.com, respectively.)