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February 2, 2005

Posted 1:00 AM Eastern

Soy farmer Homan McFarling was caught up in the Monsanto "seed police" with Monsanto demanding that he pay them hundreds of thousands of dollars for alleged technology piracy. Homan saved seeds from one harvest year and planted them the next year, something Homan says is an ancient agricultural practice, "My daddy saved seed. I saved seed," said McFarling, 62, who owns a 5,000 acre family farm in Shannon, Miss. The case is in court.

According to Monsanto, saving their genetically engineered seeds violates provisions of their contracts with farmers. Over the past nine years, Monsanto has filed similar lawsuits 90 times in twenty five different states against 147 farmers and 39 agriculture firms.

Homan has cause to worry. Last year, Kem Ralph, a Tennessee farmer was sued by Monsanto and sentenced to eight months in prison for lying about a truckload of cotton seed he concealed for a friend. In addition to the prison sentence, the court ordered Ralph to pay Monsanto more than $1.7 million dollars. Anonymous tips pitting farmer against farmer, have been the mother lode for Monsanto in pursuing farmers using its seeds.

"It's a very efficient and cost-effective way to raise soybeans and that's why the market has embraced it," said Ron Heck, who grows 900 acres of genetically engineered soybeans in Perry, Iowa. Heck is the chairman of the American Soybean Association. Estimates show that roughly 85% of the soy crop grown in America is genetically engineered to resist herbicides like Monsanto's 'Roundup.'

Many of the farmers charged claim they didn't read the complicated technology agreement from Monsanto carefully enough, while others maintain they never received such an agreement at all. Farmers growing 'biotech' crops is on the increase, which is putting Monsanto's licensing contracts and increasing litigation stance under closer scrutiny.

Not everyone is enthralled with genetically modified seeds which produces genetically engineered food. According to Jeffrey Smith in his book, Seeds of Deception (search):

"This explosive expos� reveals how industry manipulation and political collusion - not sound science - allow dangerous genetically engineered food into your daily diet. Company research is rigged, alarming evidence of health dangers is covered up, and intense political pressure applied.

"Scientists were offered bribes or threatened. Evidence was stolen. Data was omitted or distorted.

"Government employees who complained were harassed, stripped of responsibilities, or fired.

"Laboratory rats fed a GM crop developed stomach lesions and seven of the forty died within two weeks. The crop was approved without further tests.

"When a top scientist tried to alert the public about his alarming discoveries, he lost his job and was silenced with threats of a lawsuit.

"Read the actual internal memos by FDA scientists warning of toxins, allergies, and new diseases - all ignored by their superiors, including a former attorney for Monsanto. Discover how industry studies are designed to avoid finding problems. Learn why the FDA withheld information from congress after a genetically modified supplement killed nearly a hundred people and disabled thousands."

Due to concerns about genetically modified seeds and crops grown from them, more and more Americans are turning to organic foods, especially milk and eggs, "free range" beef, chicken and pork (search). Due to the concern over Creutzfeld Jacobs Disease better known as Mad Cow disease, more and more free range beef is being consumed. In January 2004, Joel Williams from Pultney, Vermont claims his father died of mad cow disease five years ago and that the death certificate lists CJD as the cause of death.

NWVs has been contacted by one individual who states a neurologist in Hutchinson, Kansas has treated two people for CJD last year and that one woman in Russell died of it a year ago. Earlier this month, a man from Florida whose name is being withheld by request, although NWVs does know, succumbed to CJD; his family planned to cremate him because of the disease.

Creutzfeld Jacobs Disease is caused by a protein, a so-called 'prion.' CJD happens mostly in people over 60 years old, although there is a variant which can occur in younger people and is transmitted by consumption of nerve tissue from animals infected with the prion. Symptoms of CJD are rapidly progressing dementia with loss of coordination of movements and paresis.

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Due to concerns about genetically modified seeds and crops grown from them, more and more Americans are turning to organic foods, especially milk and eggs, "free range" beef, chicken and pork