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Monsanto opponent and activist Percy Schmeiser has died

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by Michael Stahl

Louise and Percy Schmeiser
Percy Schmeiser and his wife Louise portrayed for the Right Livelyhood Awards 2007. © Right Livelyhood Foundation

Percy Schmeiser, farmer and activist, died last Tuesday, October 13, at the age of 89. The Canadian became known through a patent dispute with the U.S. seed producer Monsanto, which now belongs to the pharmaceutical group Bayer.

Monsanto's genetically modified and patented rapeseed grew in Schmeiser's rapeseed fields. According to Schmeiser, neither he nor his wife Louise had sown it. The farmer isolated a part of the seed with the patented properties and sowed it on a field - which Monsanto took legal action against.

The lawsuit lasted for several years and even came to Canada's Supreme Court. There, the judges ruled that Monsanto's patent rights had been infringed, but in the end Schmeiser did not have to make any payment to the US company. However, he was left with his costs for the legal dispute.

With his opposition to Monsanto, Schmeiser became a spearhead for organic and civil rights organizations worldwide. In 2007, he and his wife were awarded the Alternative Nobel Prize (Right Livelihood Award) for their fight for farmers' rights and greater biodiversity. In 2010, the couple received the Bavarian Nature Conservation Award for their commitment.

Schmeiser's fight against Monsanto has already been the subject of documentary films by director Bertram Verhaag. In Canadian cinemas, the film "Percy", starring Christopher Walken, currently tells the story of the farmer and his wife.


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