Trust Us


One of the nice things about the law, despite everyone’s grumblings, is that it’s based on black and white interpretation. When a judge comes down with a decision, he bases it on his interpretation of the text.

The law can be based on bills passed by legislature, contract clauses and decisions from previous cases. There’s always some written letter which the law is read, digested and interpreted. Period.

Then there’s this.

A judge ruled yesterday that organic farmers cannot bar the evil, giant, biotech Monsanto from suing them for unwittingly using seeds from organic plants that are cross-pollinated from genetically-modified plants. The judge said Monsanto has already promised it wouldn’t sue organic farmers in said circumstances and that it states so on its website:

“…we do not pursue farmers for the accidental presence of our patented technology in their fields or crops.”

Apparently that’s supposed to be enough to sate organic farmers’ fears that they could be sued when they accidentally use Monsanto-tainted seeds.

Monsanto likes to play like it’s this very altruistic, yet capitalistic company who only sues and intimidates farmers because those farmers are breaking patent law. But their genetically-modified seeds are working their genes into regular, organic corn. That means once “organic” seeds begin to see more of the Monstanto genes, then the organic crop magically becomes Monsanto property and subject to a contract which the organic farmer never signed.

This is unnerving and scary. Patenting life I mean.

Even scarier? That justices would base their opinion not on case law, not on passed legislation, but a website. A website? Why not base a decision on the back of a cereal box or a billboard ad?

Judges need to stick to the law and the pure sources thereof. We can argue and bicker all day on a court’s opinion about the law. But when those opinions are based on text that is not designated law, it’s dangerous. It means that we could essentially make our own laws on our own websites. We can make a contract that’s binding on the Internet that doesn’t require any signature.

Also, Congress, presidents and the federal courts have been very generous with Monsanto in the past. But now they don’t even have to go through them anymore. They can just write their own contracts online, with no approval from authority.

Yeah, scary.

Oh yeah, that legal case about whether it was legal to patent life, was settled in the Supreme Court. The decision was a boon for Monsanto, who was not a party in the case. But the justice who wrote the majority opinion in that case, Clarence Thomas, is the former general counsel of Monsanto.

Food for thought.

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