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Supreme Court Rules For Monsanto In Case Against Farmer

Posted by on May. 13, 2013 at 2:38 PM
  • 131 Replies

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/05/13/183603368/supreme-court-rules-for-monsanto-in-case-against-farmer?utm_source=npr&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=20130513


Supreme Court Rules For Monsanto In Case Against Farmer

Vernon Hugh Bowman, who took his case to the Supreme Court, lives outside the small town of Sandborn, Ind.

Vernon Hugh Bowman, who took his case to the Supreme Court, lives outside the small town of Sandborn, Ind.

Dan Charles/NPR

A unanimous Supreme Court ruled Monday that an Indiana farmer infringed on Monsanto's patent when he planted soybeans that had been genetically modified by Monsanto without buying them from the agribusiness giant.

In the decision, written by Justice Elena Kagan, the nine justices ruled that "patent exhaustion does not permit a farmer to reproduce patented seeds through planting and harvesting without the patent holder's permission."

Monsanto's "Roundup Ready" soybeans can survive sprayings of the nation's most popular weedkiller.

As NPR's Dan Charles explained in Feburary on The Salt blog:

Farmer Vernon Hugh Bowman had been using — and paying Monsanto for — the company'sRoundup Ready when he planted his main crop in the spring. He also signed "standard agreement not to save any of his harvest and replant it the next year. Monsanto demands exclusive rights to supply that seed."

The farmer got into trouble when he planted a second crop of soybeans later in the same year, when the yield would likely be much lower. As Dan wrote, "Bowman decided that for this crop, he didn't want to pay top dollar for Monsanto's seed. 'What I wanted was a cheap source of seed,' he says. Starting in 1999, he bought some ordinary soybeans from a small grain elevator where local farmers drop off their harvest. ... He knew that these beans probably had Monsanto's Roundup Ready gene in them, because that's mainly what farmers plant these days. But Bowman didn't think Monsanto controlled these soybeans anymore, and in any case, he was getting a motley collection of different varieties, hardly a threat to Monsanto's seed business. 'I couldn't imagine that they'd give a rat's behind,' " he said.

Monsanto did care. It took Bowman to court. The farmer, as Dan reported, was ordered to pay Monsanto $84,000 for infringing on the company's patent.

Monday, the Supreme Court upheld that decision. Kagan wrote:

"In the case at hand, Bowman planted Monsanto's patented soybeans solely to make and market replicas of them, thus depriving the company of the reward patent law provides for the sale of each article. Patent exhaustion provides no haven for that conduct. We accordingly affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit."

 

Jen #1238904688930684906

by on May. 13, 2013 at 2:38 PM
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Replies (1-10):
NWP
by guerrilla girl on May. 13, 2013 at 2:58 PM
1 mom liked this

Is this surprising?

Talee
by Gold Member on May. 13, 2013 at 3:05 PM
1 mom liked this


Quoting NWP:

Is this surprising?

No, more to come I'm sure. =(

 

Jen #1238904688930684906

UpSheRises
by Platinum Member on May. 13, 2013 at 3:09 PM
1 mom liked this

I don't understand...if he bought them from someone else why is it his responsibility to know where they came from?

Was he supposed to send them for genetic testing before he planted them? I think i might be missing something...

talia-mom
by Gold Member on May. 13, 2013 at 3:11 PM
2 moms liked this

If what I read was correct, he thought they were Monsanto seeds and didn't care because they were from the grain elevator.


A patent doesn't end when it changes hands.   I can't go to Half Price Books, buy a used copy of Avatar, and then show it for profit.  And yes, it isn't exactly the same, but the patent doesn't allow for the seeds to be planted unless bought from them.


Change the patent law if you think this is bad, but the SCOTUS followed the law.

Talee
by Gold Member on May. 13, 2013 at 3:12 PM


Quoting UpSheRises:

I don't understand...if he bought them from someone else why is it his responsibility to know where they came from?

Was he supposed to send them for genetic testing before he planted them? I think i might be missing something...

This is the problem. Plants cross polinate...you get Monsantos genes in there and you're screwed.

 

Jen #1238904688930684906

UpSheRises
by Platinum Member on May. 13, 2013 at 3:18 PM

 


Quoting Talee:


Quoting UpSheRises:

I don't understand...if he bought them from someone else why is it his responsibility to know where they came from?

Was he supposed to send them for genetic testing before he planted them? I think i might be missing something...

This is the problem. Plants cross polinate...you get Monsantos genes in there and you're screwed.

But unless he did the pollinating, how could he possibly be resopnsible. SCOTUS might make bad decisions but they usually follow some kind of logic...i don't see the logic here.

 

talia-mom
by Gold Member on May. 13, 2013 at 3:19 PM
2 moms liked this

Because what she is saying happened isn't what the case was about.


Quoting UpSheRises:



Quoting Talee:


Quoting UpSheRises:

I don't understand...if he bought them from someone else why is it his responsibility to know where they came from?

Was he supposed to send them for genetic testing before he planted them? I think i might be missing something...

This is the problem. Plants cross polinate...you get Monsantos genes in there and you're screwed.

But unless he did the pollinating, how could he possibly be resopnsible. SCOTUS might make bad decisions but they usually follow some kind of logic...i don't see the logic here.




Talee
by Gold Member on May. 13, 2013 at 3:19 PM


Quoting talia-mom:

If what I read was correct, he thought they were Monsanto seeds and didn't care because they were from the grain elevator.


A patent doesn't end when it changes hands.   I can't go to Half Price Books, buy a used copy of Avatar, and then show it for profit.  And yes, it isn't exactly the same, but the patent doesn't allow for the seeds to be planted unless bought from them.


Change the patent law if you think this is bad, but the SCOTUS followed the law.

I'm sure they followed the law, but looking at the bigger picture its big corps eating up the little guys.

I think im fighting a tummy flu otherwise i would get in here and research more. I think this case was on Food, Inc. as well.

 

Jen #1238904688930684906

yourspecialkid
by Platinum Member on May. 13, 2013 at 3:21 PM
6 moms liked this
So now we have a precedent. Anyone's seeds could end up tainted.

What happens once they start patenting specific genes? Will humans have to pay if they their offspring carries them.

Some things should not be patentable.
Talee
by Gold Member on May. 13, 2013 at 3:22 PM

Agricultural Giant Battles Small Farmers

By
CBSNews
American farmers have been growing genetically modified crops for years, from seeds engineered to resist pests and chemicals. These patented seeds produced bigger crops and profits for farmers who bought them from companies like DuPont and Monsanto, but for other farmers the seeds have created a host of problems. CBS News Chief Investigative Correspondent Armen Keteyian has been investigating.


David Runyon and his wife Dawn put a lifetime of work into their 900-acre Indiana farm, and almost lost it all over a seed they say they never planted.

"I don't believe any company has the right to come into someone's home and threaten their livelihood," Dawn said, "to bring them into such physical turmoil as this company did to us."

The Runyons charge bio-tech giant Monsanto sent investigators to their home unannounced, demanded years of farming records, and later threatened to sue them for patent infringement. The Runyons say an anonymous tip led Monsanto to suspect that genetically modified soybeans were growing on their property.

"I wasn't using their products, but yet they were pounding on my door demanding information, demanding records," Dave said. "It was just plain harassment is what they were doing." 

Today, Monsanto's patented "Round-up Ready" soy commands the lion's share of the genetically-modified soybean seed market, its genetic code manipulated to withstand the company's popular weed killer.

But the promise of fewer weeds and greater production comes with a hefty fee. Farmers must sign an iron-clad agreement not to re-plant the harvested seed, or face serious legal consequences - up to $3 million in damages. 

"It's about protecting the patent, defending the patents, so farmers have the protection and can use these technologies over time," said Monsanto spokeswoman Tami Craig Schilling.

The Runyons say they signed no agreements, and if they were contaminated with the genetically modified seed, it blew over from a neighboring farm. 

"Pollination occurs, wind drift occurs. There's just no way to keep their products from landing in our fields," David said.

"What Monsanto is doing across the country is often, and according to farmers, trespassing even, on their land, examining their crops and trying to find some of their patented crops," said Andrew Kimbrell, with the Center For Food Safety. "And if they do, they sue those farmers for their entire crop." 

In fact, in Feb. 2005 the Runyons received a letter from Monsanto, citing "an agreement" with the Indiana Department of Agriculture giving it the right to come on their land and test for seed contamination. 

Only one problem: The Indiana Department of Agriculture didn't exist until two months after that letter was sent. What does that say to you?

"I'm not aware of the specific situation in Indiana," Schilling said.

"I'm just talking in general terms," said Keteyian. "Would Monsanto lie, deceive, intimidate, harass American farmers to protect its patents?" 

"With farmers as customers I would say that is not our policy by any means." 

74-year-old Mo Parr is a seed cleaner; he is hired by farmers to separate debris from the seed to be replanted. Monsanto sued him claiming he was "aiding and abetting" farmers, helping them to violate the patent. 

"There's no way that I could be held responsible," Parr said. "There's no way that I could look at a soy bean and tell you if it's Round-up Ready." 

The company subpoenaed Parr's bank records, without his knowledge, and found his customers. After receiving calls from Monsanto, some of them stopped talking to him.

"It really broke my heart," Parr said. "You know, I could hardly hold a cup of coffee that morning," 

Monsanto won its case against Parr, but the company, which won't comment on specific cases, has stopped its legal action against the Runyons.

And now four states, including Indiana, prohibit seed suppliers from entering a farmer's property without a state agent, tactics which have threatened a way of life. 
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