Genetically modified food giant DuPont has hired dozens of retired law enforcement professionals to sic on farmers it expects of saving seeds from harvests of its patented soybeans for use in the next planting year.
The company has contracted Canadian-based Agro Protection International, a company that contracts retired police officers to patrol potential violations of intellectual property law. The former cops, who already patrol Canadian farms for signs of double planting, will head out to American soybean farms that have seed contracts with DuPont next year. The company plans to sue farmers who use seeds from harvest for contract violations.
“Farmers are never going to get cheap access to these genetically engineered varieties,” said Charles Benbrook, a research professor at Washington State University’s Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources. “The biotech industry has trumped the legitimate economic interests of the farmer again by raising the ante on intellectual property.”
DuPont currently controls 36 percent of the soybean market in the United States — more than GMO giant Monsanto, from which it licenses the rights to sell U.S. farmers Roundup Ready soybeans that can withstand heavy doses of pesticides and herbicides. DuPont generated $1.37 billion in sales last year from soybean seeds, while Monsanto made $1.77 billion on the seeds and licenses.
The company has sued 145 farmers since 1997, according to Bloomberg, and won all of the 11 cases related to the suits that went to court. The Supreme Court said last month that it will soon consider whether the GMO planting restrictions are legal.