What do you do when you’ve been caught stealing, and two judges have already ruled against you? Take your case to the Supreme Court, of course. That’s the story of 73-year-old Canadian farmer/activist Percy Schmeiser, a confirmed thief of genetically improved canola seeds who has become an “international hero to anti-biotech forces” — thanks to the efforts of anti-business and anti-technology groups like Greenpeace and the Green Party. At yesterday’s hearing before the Canadian Supreme Court, Schmeiser’s lawyers didn’t even try to defend their client against the original charges. Schmeiser himself told reporters: “I don’t like to get into the facts.”
Since his rise to the level of a “cult figure,” Schmeiser’s campaign of misinformation has blossomed. As we’ve pointed out before, his website claims he has “received donations of about $12,000 to help his legal bills — mostly in $50 and $100 checks from other farmers.” But financial documents show that he has in fact received more than $127,000. Asked to explain the discrepancy, Schmeiser responds: “I don’t think that’s on my website. I don’t remember seeing that.” But more than six months after this bit of duplicity was revealed, that $12,000 figure is still on his website.
Peel this onion back one more layer, and Schmeiser’s claim that he’s locked in a “classic David vs. Goliath struggle” looks even more ridiculous. In this country alone, more than one hundred separate organizations agitate against biotech crops. According to their tax returns and annual reports, such groups spent over $400 million worldwide in 2001 to campaign against modern agriculture.
And these very same groups are arguing Schmeiser’s case for him. Instead of defending Schmeiser’s actions, they insist that the seeds he stole shouldn’t have been patented in the first place. In fact, they don’t think designer gene strands should ever be patented. If these anti-technology zealots succeed, you can say goodbye to pharmaceutical development, in addition to biotech crops.
Despite the deception and the horrific consequences if Schmeiser’s Luddite allies are successful, “check in with Schmeiser most any month and you can find him hailing crowds in places as far-flung as Japan, Germany or South Africa.” Amazingly, “it matters nothing to his audiences that he was found guilty of patent violations by the Canadian courts.”