Monsanto’s Seed Monopoly Expanding

The ball lands in tomatoland again, but this is a totally different development than Monsanto’s fraudulent claim on the patent application for a seed bank tomato variety earlier this summer. Were you surprised that they tampered with the paperwork necessary to file for a patent? Shame on you. But that’s old news… from June. This is fresh stuff.

Now Monsanto claims to have developed tomato plants that can grow under 24 hours of light a day. Of course, they’re all up in the factory farming scene, and here’s a third shift that will be payroll tax-free. It will require a huge increase in energy though because the only way to give the latest Frankenfood plants what they need to increase harvest yield by up to 26% is, to light up the growing space with some serious electric sunshine. Not very environmentally responsible thinking on their part. All they care about is the sheer mass of seed they can sell because tomatoes are in the top 10 commodities globally.

That’s a heap of tomatoes. No other fruit or vegetable comes close to ranking in the top ten crops grown on earth. The world produces more tomatoes within the agricultural industry than sugar cane (#9) and eggs (#10).  Amazingly enough, corn (a.k.a. maize) production is well below the top 10, but that’s likely due to climate limitations for the crop. You can check out the whole list through a reference link later.

Their patent approval for the latest tampered with food bearing plants is not really news. It was granted in 2012. But the paper published in a peer-reviewed science journal is, though what GMO work is doing in Nature Communications is beyond me. Natural tomatoes will not tolerate more than 18 hours of light a day. Monsanto’s development here is without a doubt a “freak of nature” – like a two-headed calf, a fish born with feathers, and monkeys with feet that glow in the dark. Some Italian scientists think it’s plant evolution – that’s scary.

So, it’s a crop that will only grace the benches of huge commercial growers… Right. So what happens when a few of the bees they’ve to in the miles under glass for pollination escapes and arrives in a nearby veggie garden, or lands in your balcony planter? Worse still, what about all the people out there growing plants from the food they bought at the supermarket? You think the frugal moms have the funds to fight, let alone beat, a patent infringement suit? Like there’s absolutely no way it won’t spread to other tomato plants beyond the grower’s greenhouses?’

Think again.

Monsanto: Makes Abnormal Tomatoes 'Normal' with Promises of ProfitIt’s not an EU patent, so it’s only a pipe dream that it would get thrown out on a technicality. It can spread just like any other GMO crop. No, it doesn’t have pesticides laced inside (yet). Nor are there any amphibian genes, or other mad science in this one. They set out to locate the gene that makes tomatoes less tolerant to extended day length than most other plants. The goal was to amp up production per plant. Naturally, with unlimited funding, they found what they were looking for.

The discovery of the right gene and breeding it into regular food-bearing tomato plants was a Monsanto Holland project. Why wait so long to publish the paper? Probably because they’re almost ready to launch seed sales and wanted to kick off the publicity campaign within a table scientific spotlight.

They could be in a clam shell at your local supermarket as early as next year. Now might be a good time to stop sprouting tomato plants from produce department waste.


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Tammy Clayton

Contributing Writer at Garden Culture Magazine

Tammy has been immersed in the world of plants and growing since her first job as an assistant weeder at the tender age of 8. Heavily influenced by a former life as a landscape designer and nursery owner, she swears good looking plants follow her home.