U of S professor pans “Percy” movie

A new movie about a Saskatchewan farmer is garnering plenty of attention, partly because it involves an Academy Award winning actor.

Christopher Walken portrays Percy Schmeiser, who was involved in a lengthy court battle with Monsanto more than twenty years ago.

The company said Schmeiser grew its genetically modified (GM) canola without paying the $15 an acre licensing fee. Schmeiser maintained the seeds blew onto his field. The Supreme Court eventually ruled in Monsanto’s favor.

The movie’s official release is Friday evening, but a two-and-half minute trailer released several weeks ago drew plenty of negative reaction from the agriculture sector.

“It’s an interpretation that’s based on the myth that Percy was somehow an innocent bystander in all of this,” said Stuart Smyth, the industry funded Chair in Agri-Food Innovation at the University of Saskatchewan. “It doesn’t correlate in any way, shape or form with the decision from the judge, where the judge—in the strongest legal language I’ve ever seen—didn’t buy Percy’s arguments.”

Smyth disagrees with the idea that the case was a battle between David and Goliath.

“It’s unfortunate that the company (Monsanto) gets portrayed in a bad light and the product is portrayed in a bad light, ultimately by an environmental organization that obviously helped Schmeiser with his (legal) fees and more than likely have put money into producing this movie,” Smyth said.

Western Canadian farmers were quick to adopt the GM canola technology, noting benefits such as better yields, lower production costs and reduced used of pesticides.



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