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A biological technology developed by Monsanto to complement their Roundup weed-killer. Roundup (glyphosate) is a semi-biodegradable herbicide which works by inhibiting plant enolpyruvylshikimate-phosphate synthase (EPSPS). This enzyme is involved in aromatic amino acid (phenylalanine, tyrosine, and tryptophan) synthesis pathways and is thus crucial for normal protein synthesis in cells.

Roundup Ready plants have been genetically engineered to contain a bacterial EPSPS gene as well as their original one. The bacterial enzyme is not inhibited by glyphosate. As a result, the engineered plants are resistant to Roundup.

As with many GMO's and related technologies, Roundup Ready has been the subject of much heated debate between Monsanto, scientists, and anti-GMO groups such as Greenpeace. Some of the issues include economic exploitation of farmers, the human health effects of Roundup, and the danger of the gene "escaping" to wild relatives of crop plants.

Roundup Ready canola has been the source of much heartache for many farmers. Roundup Ready canola seed is sold to the farmers for about 15 dollars an acre. But, the farmers must sign an agreement saying they will not use the seed next year. Each year they must again buy their seed from Monsanto. To protect their interests, Monsanto hires private investigators to take samples from farmers fields to see if they are growing Roundup Ready when they shouldn't be, and suing them for piles of money if they do.

Sure, using the seed a second year around could be considered stealing, but these are usually farmers who never bought the seed in the first place. When the plants go to seed it's spread far and wide, seed may fall from a truck headed to a different farm, and it's common tradition for farmers to trade seed with other farmers at the end of the year. Monsanto ends up suing farmers who have absolutely no idea they have been growing Roundup Ready plants.

The day before this writing, Monsanto won a court case against a 70 year old farmer who had been found using Roundup Ready canola without a license. He has been forced to pay $15,000 dollars to Monsanto, and has exhausted his retirement savings in court fees.

The judge stated that it is the farmers duty to destroy any Roundup ready crops on their lands if they did not pay for them. But how are the farmers supposed to carry this out? Have each and every plant on a 1,400 acre farm genetically tested?

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