Would the supreme court case have any effect?

bkay2000(8a TX)March 2, 2013

There's a case before the supreme court brought by Monsanto (I think). They (and competitors) are offering mostly GMO seeds, which are expensive and patented.

A farmer saved his soybean seed from his crop of GMO soybeans and planted them the next year. Monsanto sued him for patent infringement.

The farmer's lawyers are saying you can't patent a naturally occuring substance, such as a seed.

Would that have any effect on patented hosta? Woudl the additional plants that naturally occur be the same as a seed? That was my first thought when I heard about the case.


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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

Actually it would have been pollen from the GMO soybeans which pollinated the soybean fields of the farmer. He would have owned the pod parents.

It's possible that this would effect patented Hosta. Right now a patented Hosta can't be propagated for sales purposes without permission. I'm sure you can divide your own Orange Marmalade, and Bob Solberg wouldn't care. But if you decided to cut yours to pieces and sell them on eBay, he might send you a letter.

However, I know that people currently use both the pollen and pods of Empress Wu for hybridization and production of seed. Perhaps if the SCOTUS ruling favored Monsanto this would no longer be allowed. It used to cover asexual reproduction only.


Here is a link that might be useful: Don Rawson's List of Patented Hosta

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 3:36PM
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Jon 6a SE MA

My understanding of patent law is that you can make anything you want if it for your own use as long as you don't sell it.

Monsanto has farmers sign an agreement, which they say binds farmers beyond the patent.

The Agreement
The first time growers purchase Monsanto seed, they sign a stewardship agreement and contract agreeing not to save and replant seeds produced from the crops they grow from Monsanto seed.

“Farmers are presented with a contract that gives them a license to purchase the proprietary seed and traits,” Scott Baucum, Monsanto trait stewardship lead, said. “It also spells out the obligations and responsibilities that they would have in growing that seed. Among those obligations, farmers agree not to save seed and plant it again the following year. If a farmer wants to grow Roundup Ready soybeans again in a successive season, that farmer would agree to approach a licensed seed company and purchase that seed.”

Roundup ready soybeans are soybeans that can be sprayed directly with Roundup and it will not kill the soy plant, but will kill any weeds. It saves a lot of weeding. They hybridized soy plants with some plant that was glyphosate resistant and got a Roundup (glyphosate) resistant soy plant.

I doubt any hosta are sold with this type of agreement...yet.


    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 6:39PM
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Actually it is against the law to asexually propagate a patented plant for any reason. It doesn't matter if you sell it. The laws are against any asexual propagation for any reason. If you are dividing and sharing or giving away it is illegal but doubtful that the patent holder would ever try and go after you.

In the case of Monsanto, their patent is on the genes, not the seeds. When a farmer plants non-Monsanto soybean seeds in their fields they get cross pollinated with Monsanto soybeans in other fields and the genetic material carries over. These new soybeans are then carrying the Monsanto genes, so Monsanto says that they own the rights to this genetic material and say you can't use them. This happens even if you never purchased a single Monsanto soybean seed because the genetic material is carried over by bees.

With the case before the Supreme Court the farmer actually purchased feed soybeans and planted them for his future crops. Since he didn't buy crop seeds or collect his own seeds he thought he could get around having to buy Monsanto seeds. It turned out that these feed seeds also carried the roundup-ready genes and the crop he grew turned out to also be roundup resistant, so Monsanto sued him. There are few non-GMO soybeans around any longer because of cross pollination in areas of the US that grow soybeans. Farmers have no choice but to buy soybeans from Monsanto any longer or they would face similar lawsuits (which have ruined a lot of farmers).

Since hostas are patented for that specific plant, and not for any specific genetic material, this case really has nothing to do with hostas. Some hybridizers have argued in the past that their plant patent should cover all genetic material and prohibit the use of pollen or seed to create other plants, but that isn't enforceable by plant patent laws. On the other hand, if hostas came true from seed, there might be a greater argument there.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 7:14PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

the short story on what jon and chris said ...

is that there is little PROFIT in hosta ...

and BIG profit in farming ..

no hosta person is going to have the banked profit to spend a couple million in atty fees .. to fight a homeowner ... why would they ... nobody is making money ..

in theory.. the farmer above.. could name and patent.. and sell his NEW RU ready seed .. thereby destroying the 'market' for monsanto ... THIS IS POTENTIALLY BIG MONEY!!!!

ONE MIGHT SEE.. AT THIS POINT.. THAT THEY ARE NOT REALLY ARGUING ABOUT THE PLANTS.. OR HIS FEED.. THEY ARE ARGUING ABOUT FUTURE MONEY of the RU ready seeds ... which is what the patent is really all about ...


PS: God i hate when i forget to turn off the caps ....

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 9:06AM
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gogirlterri(5 IL)

Ken-I've read your post and didn't realize it was from you. I thought your cap key is broken. (te-he!)
We had a similar discussion in regards to patented hostas two years ago when my brother bought a Liberty with the thoughts of dividing it to give a part to a family memeber-not me. The outcome of the thread was just as Chris has just explained it.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 8:22AM
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Jon 6a SE MA

Well, I will continue to divide hosta for my own use on my own property, even if patented, and will demand a jury trial.

;- )


    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 11:38AM
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Jonnyb .. I am sure you are not the only one that has done that but really not willing to admit it. :0)

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 12:18PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

I have quite a few patented hostas, and since they all grow in pots, they get up-potted when they get overcrowded. Up to 3 gal containers because that is what I can lift and move around easily. When they crowd those and start to decline, I get out the spade and start chopping. I like to think of my efforts as resuscitation, rather than propagation. Of course I end up with about 4 nicely resuscitated plants, and only have room for one. My lips are sealed regarding the fate of the other 3 parts...


    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 1:01PM
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bernd ny zone5

It seems that Monsanto defends their monopoly, and that seems to be illegal. Their monopoly in soybean seeds will stifle competition. I am not a lawyer, but does that have something to do with being against anti-trust, etc., and the US usually fights that?
Having something like that with hostas would kill our hybridizing.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 2:04PM
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irawon(5a Ottawa)

I believe that U.S. patents for hostas have no effect in Canada and vice versa, so they do not apply to Canadians. I understand that there are now several Canadian patents on a few hostas.

Edit: I was under the assumption that the farmer's original crop was not from Monsanto seeds, so my comments are not valid.

This post was edited by irawon on Mon, Mar 4, 13 at 14:34

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 2:25PM
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Jon 6a SE MA

From what I understand he bought soya beans as feed, not as 'seed'. He wanted to plant a late crop and didn't want to take a chance with the expensive Monsanto 'seeds' so he took a chance that the feed he bought cheaply would be Roundup ready as almost all soya is from Monsanto 'seed'.

He lucked out and his crop was Roundup ready. He didn't hide it from Monsanto and thought he had a way around their patent. He didn't save his seed, he bought feed. Thus the court battle. Monsanto would be out of the lucrative soybean seed business they enjoy now if they allowed this practice.

Ira, If plant patents are anything like device patents you would be wrong in thinking they don't apply in Canada. There are certain blocks of nations that form associations and patents are respected within these associations. I think it would be very unusual that any patent would not include Canada because it is a very small amount of money to include a bloc of nations and Canada would almost certainly be included.

The plant patent is good for 20 years so Monsanto will not have a monopoly forever. It may seem unfair, but they put a lot into research and genetic modifications to come up with these products and they must work well and be worth the money as almost everyone in the business uses their seed.

Don't worry Babka, my lips are sealed.


This post was edited by jonnyb023 on Mon, Mar 4, 13 at 15:09

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 2:50PM
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Jon 6a SE MA

I mean Babka...

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 2:52PM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

The radio story said he saved his seed. I thought it would be an interesting story, as we often discuss patented plants.


    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 6:47PM
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irawon(5a Ottawa)

Jon, I read several online articles about the Monsanto soybean case as well as the presentations to the Supreme Court by the farmer's lawyer, Monsanto's lawyer and a lawyer for the US government. The farmer bought Monsanto RoundUp Ready soybeans ( which are also the seed) to use in a first planting. He signed a contract that he wouldn't use the product (second generation soybeans) of his original purchase as seed, that is to produce new plants which would produce third generation soybeans. He could sell the second generation soybeans as feed or for use in food products.

It's his conduct in regard to his second planting each year that is problematic. He bought these soybeans from a grain elevator, reasoning that the soybeans would contain a high percentage of Monsanto RoundUp Ready soybeans. He was right as 90% of American farmers use Monsanto soybeans as seed. He did this for 8 years.

The farmer's lawyer argues that when a farmer buys soybeans he can do what he wants with the soybeans because Monsanto's patent rights are exhausted. It can be argued that that is true about the first generation soybeans but by planting the second generation soybeans the farmer is infringing on Monsanto's patent because he is replicating a patented plant.

Monsanto's lawyer argues that it was illegal for the farmer to use the grain elevator soybeans as seed because the grain elevator is prevented from selling the soybeans as seed by law. The farmer's lawyer argues it is illegal for the grain elevator to sell the soybeans as seed but that the farmer could do with them as he saw fit.

So first, I question whether the farmer could legally use the soybeans from the grain elevator as seed. And second, even if the farmer had bought 100% RoundUp Ready soybeans from the grain elevator, he would not have infringed the Monsanto patent unless he produced third generation soybeans from his original purchase from the grain elevator. I think the whole crux of the matter revolves around whether the farmer was legally able to use grain elevator soybeans as seed.

My concern is about genetically modified plants making naturally occuring plants extinct. I read that you have a Plant Varieties Preservation Act in the States.

Bernd is right, there do seem to be concerns about Monsanto monopolozing the soybean market.

I don't know whether this is true but it was stated during the court proceeding that alfafa does not come 100% true from seed as do soybeans. So it's my feeling that hosta hybridizing with patented plants and the enjoyment of seedlings from patented plants appear to be safe.

This post was edited by irawon on Wed, Mar 6, 13 at 17:58

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 8:59PM
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Jon 6a SE MA

Ira, I agree with everything you said. Monsanto has effectively cornered the market on soybeans.

GM soy, wheat, corn, rice and other crops has created crops with enhanced disease and drought resistance and doubling of yields. They have greatly reduced famines in places like Africa and India. Billions of lives have been saved because of GM plants.

Are there an unknown possible downsides? I don't know and I don't think anyone else does either. I do know that eliminating them would cost billions of lives.

...but, I am wandering off topic again, I think the patent laws in regards to hosta are reasonable except as they apply to people dividing them for their own limited use and not for profit. Since it is doubtful that any grower would try to bring an action against someone simply enhancing their own garden, I agree there is not much to worry about.

Now, if they could only develop a GM hosta resistant to nematodes, virus x, repelled rabbits, deer, voles.......


    Bookmark   March 6, 2013 at 9:24AM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

"Billions of lives have been saved because of GM plants."

A bit loose with hyperbole.

As for yields, the comparison Monsanto makes with Bt infused crops compares them to where no Bt is sprayed independently. Where Bt is used the pre-GMO way, the yields are the same or greater due to less likelihood of the pest gaining resistance.

The same slanted comparison is made with their Roundup Ready crops. Again comparing them to no herbicide use.


    Bookmark   March 6, 2013 at 4:44PM
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irawon(5a Ottawa)

Jon, this topic regarding patents really interested me so I did quite a bit more research about the Monsanto court case and hosta patents.

It appears that some weeds are developing resistance to RoundUp, so that the beneficial character of RoundUp Ready soybeans is diminishing. The RR soybeans’ patent is set to expire in 2014, so Monsanto has developed RoundUp Ready soybean 2 to replace it in an effort to extend their patent. All they’ve done is moved the Round Up Ready gene to another spot on the genome. Monsanto says that this makes the RoundUp Ready gene more effective. Dupont is in litigation with Monsanto because Monsanto wants Dupont to purchase a license in order to stack their technology onto RoundUp Ready soybean. If Monsanto wanted they could add a terminator gene to their soybeans to make their soybean plant with the RoundUp Ready gene infertile/sterile.

The farmer’s lawyer’s case at your Supreme Court is based on the fact that your Supreme Court has ruled on many occasions that once an item is sold the inventor exhausts his rights under patent law. For example, if you buy a TV you can do with it what you will after the initial purchase … use it, abuse it or sell it again. The farmer’s lawyer argues that Monsanto has recourse to contract law if they want to put conditions on their sale of RoundUp Ready soybeans. According to him contract law would make Monsanto subject to anti-trust law in the same way that Microsoft was when Microsoft cornered the market and insisted that only Microsoft Explorer could be used with the Windows operating system. The problem in Bowman v. Monsanto is that soybeans are self-replicating, that is they grow true from seed with the RoundUp Ready gene. Your patent laws allow patents on new “asexually reproduced plant varieties by design”. The patent usually doesn’t extend to the seed which is produced by “laws of nature”. Bowman’s lawyer wants the Supreme Court to uphold their rulings on the doctrine of exhaustion which he claims your circuit court has not interpreted properly, stating that exhaustion has only one requirement- an authorized sale. Bowman’s lawyer states:

" the Federal Circuit has created an impermissible
exception to the exhaustion doctrine for self-replicating technologies. By doing so, that court has improperly usurped the role of Congress in weighing competing interests in determining the proper scope of patent rights.

Since the 1980s, when utility patent rights in seeds were first recognized, Congress has provided no exception to the exhaustion doctrine for seeds, let alone any other self-replicating technology. Twenty-five years of congressional silence is noteworthy because, where
Congress intended special exceptions to the first-sale
doctrine in copyright law, it signaled as much through
industry-focused legislation. "

Hope I’ve interpreted the matter correctly. When I first looked at this case I thought that Monsanto would win because Monsanto won a similar case in Canada against a Canadian farmer, Schmeiser, whose canola fields were pollinated with the Monsanto RoundUp Ready gene. Now I’m not so sure.

My gut feeling is that people should be careful about what they say they do with patented plants on their own property as asexual propagation of a patented hosta is illegal. From what I read at your patent office it's not illegal during the time that the patent is pending. If Bowman wins, then people could divide patented hostas for their own use as long as they don't sell them.

I'll start a new post about my research about hosta patents.

This post was edited by irawon on Wed, Mar 6, 13 at 18:03

    Bookmark   March 6, 2013 at 5:22PM
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irawon(5a Ottawa)

I want to set the record straight about patents because in my first post above I was just repeating what I read elsewhere about US patents having no effect in Canada.

As far as I know the US is the only country that issues plant patents. Other countries such as Canada, the UK, and the European Union issue Plant Breeders Rights for plants. In Canada the plants must be “new, distinct, uniform, and stable”. There are two exemptions to the Plant Breeders Rights in Canada:

Research Exemption: Protected varieties may be used for breeding and developing new plant varieties without the permission of the holder of the rights.
Farmers' Privilege: Farmers may save and plant their own seed of protected varieties on their own land without infringing on the holder's rights.

It is my understanding that a farmer in Canada must get the permission of the breeder of seed before he can SELL the seed AS seed but that he can plant the seed in his own fields. I think he can sell the seeds as feed. Canada is working on making our legislation clearer.

Canada’s Plant Breeder’s Act upholds US patent licenses because if the hosta is sold in the US the plant is subject to the breeder’s American rights, so we Canadians can’t propagate hostas patented in the US.

As Jon pointed out, there is a treaty relating to patents which is adhered to by 169 countries, including the United States, and is known as the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property. It provides that each country guarantees to the citizens of the other countries the same rights in patent and trademark matters that it gives to its own citizens. Another treaty, known as the Patent Cooperation Treaty, is adhered to by over 126 countries, including the United States. The treaty facilitates the filing of applications for patent on the same invention in member countries by providing, among other things, for centralized filing procedures and a standardized application format. Both Canada and the US are members of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV).

Don Rawson has produced a list of hostas which have been patented in the US. Some of the patents appear to have international reach. I’m not perfectly clear on the second designation.

Something else I learned is that biotechnology companies are developing disease resistant genes, so perhaps down the line we may be able to get nematode resistant hostas … they would be pretty expensive though.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2013 at 5:42PM
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Jon 6a SE MA

tj, no, I am not being loose with the hyperbole.

Norman Ernest Borlaug (March 25, 1914 �' September 12, 2009)[1] was an American agronomist, humanitarian and Nobel laureate who has been called 'the father of the Green Revolution'[2] and 'The Man Who Saved A Billion Lives'. He is one of six people to have won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal[3] and was also awarded the Padma Vibhushan, India's second highest civilian honor.[4]

Borlaug received his Ph.D. in plant pathology and genetics from the University of Minnesota in 1942. He took up an agricultural research position in Mexico, where he developed semi-dwarf, high-yield, disease-resistant wheat varieties.

During the mid-20th century, Borlaug led the introduction of these high-yielding varieties combined with modern agricultural production techniques to Mexico, Pakistan, and India. As a result, Mexico became a net exporter of wheat by 1963. Between 1965 and 1970, wheat yields nearly doubled in Pakistan and India, greatly improving the food security in those nations.[5] These collective increases in yield have been labeled the Green Revolution, and Borlaug is often credited with saving over a billion people worldwide from starvation.[6] He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 in recognition of his contributions to world peace through increasing food supply.

Later in his life, he helped apply these methods of increasing food production to Asia and Africa.[7].... from wicki

His billion lives saved was decades ago, so I think it is certain that billions is not an exaggeration. People who would like to get rid of GM crops should realize they would condemn billions to starvation worldwide.

Of course today's genetic modifications are beyond what Botaug could imagine. This reinforces and validates my billions saved statement which I think is irrefutable.

Borlaug- "some of the environmental lobbyists of the Western nations are the salt of the earth, but many of them are elitists. They've never experienced the physical sensation of hunger. They do their lobbying from comfortable office suites in Washington or Brussels. If they lived just one month amid the misery of the developing world, as I have for fifty years, they'd be crying out for tractors and fertilizer and irrigation canals and be outraged that fashionable elitists back home were trying to deny them these things".

Ira, not withstanding the differences in US and Canadian plant patent laws, Monsanto requires the same type of use agreement in Canada as they do in the US. I agree it is a contract agreement beyond the issues involved in plant patents.


Here is a link that might be useful: The Man Who Saved a Billion Lives

This post was edited by jonnyb023 on Wed, Mar 6, 13 at 20:55

    Bookmark   March 6, 2013 at 8:44PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

Jon- Borlaug indeed could have saved billions through normal hybrids not via genetic implants.

"This reinforces and validates my billions saved statement which I think is irrefutable."

Hardly. You said GM saved billions. GMs have spliced genes, and are not normal hybrids.


This post was edited by tsugajunkie on Wed, Mar 6, 13 at 22:13

    Bookmark   March 6, 2013 at 9:53PM
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hostaholic2 z 4, MN

Just a side note on the "higher yielding" GM plants. My husband sells crop insurance and as part of that he must take "production" on every field that was insured. That is, after harvest he must get the yields from the farmers and report them to the insurance company. In the 19 counties in which he does business there has not been a single production report in which GM crops have out-yielded conventional.. I'll grant that 19 counties is a relatively small sample, still you'd think he would be seeing increased yields somewhere. He's been doing this for 27 years so he has a fair amount of data to look back at. In some instances he's seen lower yields. Many of his clients will readily say they don't get higher yields, they plant it because it's easier. You may also want to do a little research on the increase in food allergies in children, leaky gut syndrome, the increase in celiac disease and a host of others.I'll just say that hybrids and genetically modified organisms which have viruses and bacteria inserted into their genes are not the same thing and stop there.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2013 at 11:28PM
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Jon 6a SE MA


Semantics, each technology is Genetic Modification. Whether it is done by selective breeding which probably has been done for thousands of years or by gene introduction it is all Genetic Modification.

The new technology doesn't displace the work of Boutag. The advances he made and the lives he saved didn't die with him. His work saved at least a billion people while he lived and his legacy continues. Whether you consider only Boutag's work alone or the work he inspired in gene splitting there is no doubt that his work has saved billions.

I don't put you in this category, but when I hear people rail against GM food and suggest they are something awful and should be stopped I think of the billions of lives saved and the improved standard of living that this work has provided. It is one of my Red Button issues.

I'm sure you are aware of this. I just think maybe you were not aware of the staggering number of lives saved and how greatly this influences our lives every day. I think Boutag belongs in the same class as Salk, Pasteur and others that have saved so many lives.


    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 6:59AM
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Jon 6a SE MA

Hostaholic said "In the 19 counties in which he does business there has not been a single production report in which GM crops have out-yielded conventional.. "

Begs the question why farmers would pay a hefty premium for GM seed. I'm sorry, but I'm sure you have misinterpreted something. This is simply impossible.


    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 7:04AM
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bernd ny zone5

Jonny, read above again : ....Many of his clients will readily say they don't get higher yields, they plant it because it's easier....

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 9:25AM
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hostaholic2 z 4, MN

Thank you berndnyz. Jon, as I said he has been selling crop insurance and taking yearly production reports for 27 years. He has yet to see higher yields from the GM crops and I should be specific here in that he mainly insures corn, soybeans, sugarbeets, some alfalfa and occasionally wheat. I will say that the wheat data is a very small sample as very few clients grow it and then only occasionally. I would love to be able to trust GM crops, maybe someday research will prove to me that they are safe and I have been overly cautious. I am however even concerned about what I will for lack of a better term call over-hybridized wheat. The wheat today has a much higher gluten content and more chromosomes pairs than ancient wheat and even the wheat grown 50 years ago. I will stop getting off topic here. If we wish to continue the discussion maybe we should move it to a different forum.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 12:09PM
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irawon(5a Ottawa)

Jon, I read the Wikipedia article on Borlaug and it seems to me that he used farming techniques which we consider conventional today to increase wheat crops. Mexican wheat was being affected by rust, so he interplanted different wheat cultivars to increase crop yields. He introduced the planting of a second crop per growing season, which was not being done. He developed new strains of wheat by doing something called backcrossing. He imported a wheat cultivar from India to Mexico which had a shorter sturdier stalk. But all of this work was done by hybridizing, something that nature can do. He just helped nature along. He won his Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 because he did save people from starvation by increasing crop yields. I may be wrong but I wouldn't consider that work the same type of work that Monsanto is doing. Monsanto used an organism that they found living in the sludge left by RoundUp and introduced its RoundUp Resistant gene into the soybean genome.

I don't know enough about what kind of long-term health effects geneticlly modified foods will have on humans. RoundUp Ready soybeans weren't introduced until 1996. What I do know is that people are getting fatter and I believe some of that is due to all the additives being introduced into our food. I believe that people should have the opportunity to decide for themselves what they put in their mouths, so food labels should state whether the soy is from genetically modified plants. Despite all this one can be pretty certain that if soy has been used and it isn't stated that it's organic soy then one is pretty certain that it's genetically modified soy.

I think it's a shame that low income individuals cannot afford to buy organic; this is a new form of elitism.

Sorry for getting away from hostas.

Edited to correct the spelling of the agronomist's name.

This post was edited by irawon on Thu, Mar 7, 13 at 18:51

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 12:39PM
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irawon(5a Ottawa)

Would everyone agree that this topic should move to organic gardening?

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 12:48PM
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Jon 6a SE MA

I was maybe wrong. It depends on whether Monsanto's or Greenpeace's data is correct. Monsanto claims greater crop yield, Green peace claims less. It could very well be that it is the savings in labor, fuel and tillage that has made Roundup ready the overwhelming choice of farmers. I do stand corrected as I was sure there were overwhelming yield advantages to GM crops. That is obviously not so, the increased yields are attributable to Boutag's or similar work with advanced hybridizing.

Boutang;'s work of GM (hybridizing did double crop yields and increased disease and drought resistance.

Wheat corn and every crop grown today is a distant relative to their native origins. This is good because there would be widespread famine if we were forced to use them today.

They are tests by the FDA and there is no discernible difference in nutritional value or even taste from 'organic' crops. Even organic crops are the product of many many years of hybridizing and "natural" pesticides (which are often more dangerous than modern pesticides and natural fertilizers (mostly manures) can be and often are far more toxic than modern effective pesticides and fertilizers.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 12:53PM
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bernd ny zone5

Eating things which were repeatedly doused with Roundup seem to be safe now, but usually bad things only show up many years thereafter. I usually do not spray myself with Roundup when tending to my garden, ya never know....

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 4:38PM
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bernd ny zone5


This post was edited by berndnyz5 on Fri, Mar 8, 13 at 10:47

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 4:39PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

Jon- Not just semantics, there is a legal difference between GMOs and the good old fashioned hybrids. That is why the term "organic" excludes GMOs. Now, Monsanto would dearly love folks to equate the two but their altered reality has yet to take hold...but they are working on it.

" I think Boutag belongs in the same class as Salk, Pasteur and others that have saved so many lives."

I never doubted that. Its just Monsanto isn't anywhere near that class of folks.


    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 5:19PM
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irawon(5a Ottawa)

I just want to let everyone know that there's discussion going on in the organic gardening forum about GMO grains. The subject of the thread is: GMO advocates lost a round.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 6:36PM
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Jon 6a SE MA

Boutag was dedicated scientists and humanitarian. Monsanto doesn't fall into the same category, for sure. They do create products that fill a need and their products are unjustly vilified by many people who have the incorrect opinion that natural chemicals are benign and man made chemicals are more harmful.

Many natural chemicals are far more harmful and many man-made chemicals have less toxicity than the natural chemicals demanded to apply an organic label.

Once again I readily admit I was wrong in thinking that GM plants always increased yields. I now know that this is not the case in many crops and the benefits are in labor, fuel and equipment expenses.

Ira, it is hardly imaginable that Nature would have hybridized an Indian wheat cultivar into a Mexican cultivar. Minimizing the work he did and the billions of lives he saved from starvation is not a very attractive position to take. He spent 50 years of dedicated work to produce the results he produced. Sitting back and making a statement that Nature would have done this anyway is brutally unthinking and incredibly incorrect.

Boutag was a brilliant scientists and great humanitarian.

Heading over to the organic section is something I would avoid. I'm sure the misconceptions there and the ability to reason with those indoctrinated with the 'Monsanto is poisoning the planet syndrome' would be an insurmountable task.


    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 8:19AM
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Jon 6a SE MA

Glyphosate toxicity

Glyphosate has a United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Toxicity Class of III (on a I to IV scale, where IV is least dangerous) for oral and inhalation exposure.[46] Nonetheless, as with other herbicides, the EPA requires that products containing glyphosate carry a label that warns against oral intake, mandates the use of protective clothing, and instructs users not to re-enter treated fields for at least 4 hours.[46][47] Glyphosate does not bioaccumulate and breaks down rapidly in the environment.[48]

The EPA considers glyphosate to be noncarcinogenic and relatively low in toxicity.[46] The EPA considered a "worst case" dietary risk model of an individual eating a lifetime of food derived entirely from glyphosate-sprayed fields with residues at their maximum levels. This model indicated that no adverse health effects would be expected under such conditions.[46]
Effects on fish and amphibians

Glyphosate is generally less persistent in water than in soil, with 12 to 60 day persistence observed in Canadian pond water, yet because glyphosate binds to soil, persistence of over a year have been observed in the sediments of ponds in Michigan and Oregon.[46] In streams, maximum glyphosate concentrations were measured immediately post-treatment and dissipated rapidly.[46] Glyphosate is "practically nontoxic to slightly toxic" for amphibians and fish.[49]

Wikipedia again.

Roundup (Glyphosate) is the least toxic herbicide in the world. This accounts for its widespread use and acceptance for use on food products by the EPA. It is an acid molecule that inhibits plant enzymes (not animal enzymes) and kills plants. In contact it binds with soil and and degrades. Unless you swallow it before it dries it is basically harmless to humans or pets.

Organic herbicides would be limited to vinegar or practices such as mulching. All fine for small plot in your backyard, but impractical on a commercial farm.

Here is a snippit from the Renegade Gardener that should be mandatory reading for those who rail against Roundup and demand the use of organic pesticides.

"You chose glyphosate as your cause? FYI, the most commonly used pesticide in the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s, copper sulfate, is far more toxic and still widely in use today in the US and around the world. Where? Organic farming. Copper pesticides are organic, understand, and approved for use today in the US, England (well, not for long) and many other countries. Each season, organic farmers spray it by the hundreds of thousands of gallons. It has an EIQ of 47.8! That’s off the charts!!"

Roundup has an EIQ of 15.3

Here is a link that might be useful: Renegade Gardener on organic pesticides.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 8:56AM
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irawon(5a Ottawa)

Jon, I'm sorry if I gave you the impression that I was denigrating Borlaug's work. That is not the case. He was a brilliant man and a great humanitarian. He genuinely cared about those less fortunate than him, that is the starving masses. The points I was trying to make are that he used nature's processes (and did so brilliantly) to HYBRIDIZE new strains of wheat and that he did NOT produce GENETICALLY MODIFIED wheat.

Likewise I would not disparage Olga Petryzin's pain-staking work hybridizing her hostas by stating that a bee could do it.

The organic gardening forum's discussion provides some links that support hostaholic's husband's observations. They're an interesting read. Some of the posters also don't condemn farmers for using GM seed. I didn't get involved in the discussion there because it appeared to me that arguments were going around in circles.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 1:46PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

" I'm sure the misconceptions there and the ability to reason with those indoctrinated with the 'Monsanto is poisoning the planet syndrome' would be an insurmountable task.

Due in no small part to Monsanto's track record. What Monsanto did to those folks in Anniston, AL by knowingly poisoning them with PCBs and then employing their "move along, nothing to see here" tactics has lasting effects.


    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 4:04PM
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Jon 6a SE MA

I didn't know about the Anniston incident. I grew up in New Bedford and swam in the Achusnet River which is the world's largest Superfund site for PCB contamination or anything else for that matter. They used to use it in transformers and dumped rejects into the river. It's still there. Luckily, I guess, it sinks.

I certainly don't condone Anniston, but I don't connect that to Roundup which (according to all the information available) is the safest herbicide in the world. If there is something dangerous about it I would like to know what it is because I use gallons of it each year.

I do think people adopt a sort of cult religion against GM seeds and Roundup. If someone doesn't want to buy from Monsanto then there are plenty of generic glyphosates. That is what I use. Not because of Monsanto's past actions which I didn't know about, but because I'm cheap. There is no better or safer herbicide than glyphosate and there are virtually no farmers that can compete with GM seeds.

I did learn something about GM seeds. I thought the primary benefit was yield and, in most cases anyway, this is not correct.


    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 6:19PM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

As my dear old grandpa used to say, "Some people live and learn, some just live.".


    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 10:07PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

What a wonderful Grandpa!


    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 11:40PM
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GM Salmon is something that really has nothing to do with Hosta( unless under a plant) but they are now making super salmon that grow twice as fast by altering their DNA.. This information is on You Tube and was in the ABC news . Not sure if good or bad except the can not reproduce . I personally like the wild salmon flavor better but it may come to this to feed the world supply

    Bookmark   March 9, 2013 at 11:22AM
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