Monsanto: $7.5 Billion Payout to 5 Million Brazilian Farmers
Monsanto, the largest seed corporation in the world, may have to pay as much as $7.5 billion to five million Brazilian soy farmers.
The company has long dealt out severe legal sanctions against farmers it suspects of "pirating" its seed. But now the farmers have turned the tables on Monsanto, by suing the company and winning.
Genetically modified (GM) soy production in Brazil began illegally in 1998 with seeds smuggled in from Argentina. Farmers favored the engineered product because it was resistant to Roundup herbicide (another Monsanto product) making it easier to plant. In 2005 Brazilian president Luiz Inacio "Lula" Da Silva, realizing that many farmers had switched over, legalized Roundup Ready soy despite the misgivings of environmental activists. Last year the country planted 30.3 million hectares of GM crops, most of which were soy.
Most of this soy is exported to Europe, where the soy is used to feed cattle and for biofuels, and to China, whose burgeoning beef industry has an enormous and ever growing demand for cattle feed. Soy comprises 26 percent of Brazil's farm exports.
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