Agricultural behemoth and genetically modified seed maker Dupont is preparing to send out former police officers as "soybean police" to enforce its seed patents.
As Monsanto has done in the past, DuPont will be looking for evidence that farmers have saved and replanted its Roundup Ready soybean seeds, a practice that violates that company's contract.
Bloomberg reports that Dupont has hired Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based Agro Protection International to do the policing, a company which conducts farm visits to determine "appropriate usage" of seeds and to create deterrence of illegally using their client's products, the company explains.
Critics see the move as more evidence of corporate control over agriculture.
"Farmers are never going to get cheap access to these genetically engineered varieties," Bloomberg quotes Charles Benbrook, a research professor at Washington State University’s Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, as saying. "The biotech industry has trumped the legitimate economic interests of the farmer again by raising the ante on intellectual property."
And the Des Moines Register quotes George Nayor, who sued Monsanto in 1999 over use of genetically modified seeds.
"It’s the same thing that Monsanto has been doing. A few people want to control all of agriculture," Nayor said of DuPont's policing.
The Des Moines Register explains why DuPont is now following the path of Monsanto in seed-policing:
Monsanto has sued to protect its Roundup Ready trait, which is widely licensed to DuPont Pioneer and other seed companies. The seed’s DNA genetics have been modified to enable the soybean plant to thrive after Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide has been applied.
But the patent for Roundup Ready expires next year.
DuPont Pioneer and other seed companies are thus left on their own to enforce other biotechnology or breeding patents that may be in a single soybean plant.