Triball here, with FrogTV, coming to you from the Big House.

What’s my crime, you ask?

Murder? Fraud?

Theft?

Monsanto might say so. Or they might accuse me of one of the most fundamental practices that farmers have been using for centuries. Join the camera crew in the cell block to hear my side of the story: “Triball Goes to Prison.”

OK, so we’ve heard that genetically modified crops wreak havoc in the ecosystem, drive up pesticides and foster the development of pesticide-resistant “superweeds.” Their effect on human bodies is still largely unknown. But they’re having a disturbing impact on some humans’ life and liberty — if those humans happen to be farmers.

You see, just about as far back as there’s been farming, farmers have been saving seeds from one harvest to plant for the next crop. It’s just a common sense way to do things. Sometimes it’s a cherished tradition, like when it comes to keeping Grandma’s prized heirloom tomatoes in your modern garden.

GMO seeds are patented — the first time a living organism, a piece of nature, has been completely owned by a corporation. Now farmers who save their seed are subject to prosecution.

So why don’t farmers who don’t want problems just buy “normal” seed? It’s not that easy.

First, it’s getting harder to find non-GM seed, especially as Monsanto, a leading owner of GM seed patents, is buying up seed companies and cutting out sources of non-GM seed. Also, laws are being passed that make process of saving seed so bureaucratically onerous (paperwork, fees, testing) it is effectively putting seed cleaners out of business. Seed cleaners, like farmers, are also liable to devastating lawsuits if it is found that they handled patented seed, knowingly or unknowingly. And, farmers can be sued for “patent infringement” if seed or pollen from GM crops so much as blows onto their field and contaminates their non-GM source. In a 2006 video, Vandana Shiva cited that Monsanto had already sued 1500 farmers whose fields had been contaminated. (Shiva has started a worldwide Seed Satyagraha — a movement of nonviolent non-cooperation with the seed patents.)

Crazy things are happening in our world. Know where your tadpoles swim.

 

What to do, oh what to do? Sure, the problems can seem so big that it feels like there’s nothing we can do. But if a little three-eyed frog can stand up to make a difference, then so can you. Go here to find some simple things you can do to spread the word.