The upcoming movie tells the story of Percy Schmeiser, a Saskatchewan farmer who faced Monsanto in a lawsuit in 1998
A recent movie trailer for the upcoming film Percy from Mongrel Media has the agricultural community talking.
The film is based on a 1998 lawsuit. It involved Saskatchewan farmer Percy Schmeiser and Monsanto, and centred on the discovery of the company’s genetically modified canola in his field even though he did not have the right to grow it.
The trailer depicts a David-versus-Goliath type of movie, but not everyone in the ag community sees it that way.
People “in the community look at this and say everybody who grew Roundup Ready canola at the time fully knew what was involved when they signed their technical use agreements. (It) meant that you could not save the seed to reseed. Once you sign that contract, it's a patent right,” said Clinton Monchuk.
He is the executive director of Farm and Food Care Saskatchewan, and a grain, oilseed and egg farmer near Lanigan, Sask.
The movie looks to be well made with strong actors, and the trailer makes the story dramatic and intrigues viewers to watch it, said Monchuk.
“It'll be interesting to see how the movie actually portrays the (story) when it gets to the Supreme Court (part) because he ultimately lost in terms of patent rights. The Supreme Court of Canada indicated that what he was doing was, in fact, not lawful. As a result, he had to stop, and the laws were enforced,” said Monchuk.
The trailer also seems to depict that farmers are forced to use certain seeds from companies, but this is not the case, said Monchuk.
“We have free choice to use whatever seeds we want. Without watching the full movie, I don't know how it's going to portray (the story). But it appears in the trailer that is going to be portrayed more of Monsanto forcing things upon Percy, which definitely was not the case,” Monchuk told Farms.com.
Every farmer has a choice to use seeds from different companies and not having this choice is a misconception on the part of consumers, he said.
“Movies like this will further perpetuate that myth that we don't have choices and that’s a fallacy. Of course we have choices. We have lots of choices. Not only on the different crops to grow, but even within the different commodities. There are numerous options that we have for seeds,” he said. “For example, we grow Roundup Ready canola, LibertyLink canola and Clearfields canola. So, we grow three types of canola on our farm. Nobody forces us to grow that.”
Although having movies about Saskatchewan are a good thing, it’s unfortunate that this one will show only one farmer in the province, said Monchuk.
“There's more to Saskatchewan farmers than Percy Schmeiser. I think it's unfortunate that … the perception will be about this movie instead of the other 40,000 farmers who actually farm here in Saskatchewan,” he said.
Monchuk hopes that, if consumers have questions about seed choices, they seek farmers or farming organizations that can give them answers.
Photo credit: Mongrel Media photo