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Agribusiness Co., Farmers Clash

February 19, 2002

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SOUTHAMPTON TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) _ Farmers who are reusing harvested seeds find themselves in a dispute with an agribusiness giant.

Monsanto Co. objects to the practice and has dispatched private investigators to check out reports of farmers recycling its seed.

``They showed up at my door (at) 6 o’clock in the morning,″ said Scott Good, a soybean grower in Southampton Township. ``They flipped a badge out. It wasn’t polite, what they were saying. They acted like FBI.″

Good is now the target of a federal lawsuit. In addition to lawsuits, Monsanto has filed hundreds of complaints about farmers misusing its genetically altered cotton, canola, corn and soybean seeds.

``Not only do we feel we have an obligation to the other farmers″ who abide by the rules, Monsanto spokeswoman Lori Fisher said, ``but we’ve obviously invested a lot of money into this technology.″

The dispute involves Roundup Ready seeds, which are bioengineered to withstand the company’s Roundup weed killer. The chemical kills just about any other plant. A sack of Roundup Ready seed costs several dollars more than a bag of conventional seed.

Gary Woodend, a lawyer contacted by Good, said the farmer offered to hand over his entire 2001 crop to Monsanto, but the company rejected the proposal.

``I think their real motive is to try to make an example out of him and put him out of business,″ Woodend said.

Fisher said the company has no such motive.

``If people are willing and able to settle, I can’t think of any case we’ve settled where the person wasn’t able to continue to farm,″ she said.

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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) _ Canadian officials have invited members of the North Dakota Board of Animal Health on a tour of a lab where scientists are looking into research on foot-and-mouth disease.

North Dakota’s state veterinarian Larry Schuler said board members are getting a tour of the National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease in Winnipeg, Manitoba, so officials can show them the lab is a secure and safe place for such research.

``Since we’re so close to the laboratory, I guess they would like to show us that there is no risk to producers in the state,″ Schuler said. ``It’s an educational thing to learn about the laboratory, to learn about the diagnosis of foreign animal disease and also to look at their biosecurity measures.″

Foot-and-mouth is a highly contagious disease that causes wasting in cloven-hoofed animals such as cows, sheep and pigs. It is not fatal, but the disease can ravage a country’s livestock trade.