The Monsanto Company technically no longer exists now that it’s been purchased by the German agrochemical and GMO giant Bayer, which has taken over its St. Louis area headquarters and begun investing billions into its new GMO crop division.
But the specter of the oft-voted former “Most Evil Company in the World” remains, as does its legacy of legal intimidation among farmers.
One of the most famous of all Monsanto lawsuits involved Percy Schmeiser, a small-town farmer who was sued by Monsanto for planting its patented Roundup Ready GMO crops in 1998.
What followed for Schmeiser was nearly two decades of intense legal battles, court cases that captured the attention of farmers and non-GMO activists everywhere.
Now, the story of Schmeiser will be immortalized on the silver screen for the whole world to see, in an upcoming film that packs plenty of star power.
The movie has the potential to expose Monsanto to a large-scale audience like never before.
Upcoming film chronicles farmer’s decades-long legal showdown with Monsanto
Currently in production in Winnipeg, Canada, the upcoming film ‘Percy’ is scheduled to be released some time in 2019, with Oscar winner Christopher Walken set to play the role of Schmeiser.
The film will be directed by Clark Johnson, who directed the series finale of ‘The Wire’ and also played the character Augustus Haynes on the show.
In addition, former NBA All-Star Dwight Howard has signed on to executive produce the movie.
The film will be based on the events of the lawsuit, during which Schmeiser challenges Monsanto after the company’s genetically modified canola is discovered in his farm’s crop.
Schmeiser battles Monsanto in court, speaking out against its business practices while realizing he’s waging a legal battle that could have a dramatic effect on thousands of farmers who have been silently dealing with the same issues.
Award-winning actress Christina Ricci is also expected to star in the movie, as anti-GMO activist Rebecca Salcau.
Farmer’s case highlights injustices of Monsanto lawsuits against farmers
Eventually, Schmeiser’s case made it all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, where Monsanto scored a controversial legal victory even though the small-town farmer claimed the seeds were accidentally blown onto his property.
Monsanto has sued U.S. farmers nearly 150 times over patent infringement involving saved seeds, according to a report from EcoWatch, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to its overall lawsuit count against farmers.
As of 2014, Monsanto had not lost a single case, despite many farmers arguing that they unknowingly planted the patented seeds, due to the difficulty of distinguishing between natural seeds and GMO ones.
Schmeiser’s final victory over Monsanto
Despite his court losses, Schmeiser continued to battle Monsanto.
In 2008, he finally managed to recoup losses from the company in the amount of $660 to pay for the cleanup of Roundup Ready GMO canola from his non-GMO canola fields.
Schmeiser had sued the company in small claims court, and Monsanto finally agreed to settle out-of-court — a small, but still noteworthy victory for a small-time farmer against one of the world’s most powerful corporations.
“The patenting of life is a crime and must not be allowed,” Schmeiser said as part of the people’s tribunal (a mock trial that may be used as evidence in potential legal battles) against Monsanto at The Hague in the Netherlands in 2016.
As of October 2018 the movie was shooting, and is expected to be released sometime this year.