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Mon Feb 18, 2013, 12:37 PM

 

Bowman v. Monsanto: Is It A Crime to Plant A Seed?

Vernon “Hugh” Bowman, a 75-year-old farmer from rural Indiana, did something that got him sued. He planted soybean seeds. But Monsanto, the agra-giant, insists that it has a patent on the kind of genetically-modified seed Bowman used —and that the patent continues to all of the progeny of those seeds.

Have we really gotten to the point that planting a seed can lead to a high-stakes Supreme Court patent lawsuit? We have, and that case is Bowman v. Monsanto, which is being argued on Tuesday. Monsanto’s critics have assailed the company for its “ruthless legal battles against small farmers,” and they are hoping that this will be the case that puts them in its place. They are also hoping that the court’s ruling will rein in patent law, which is increasingly being used to claim new life forms as private property.

Monsanto and its supporters, not surprisingly, see the case very differently. They argue that when a company like Monsanto goes to great expense to create a valuable new genetically modified seed it must be able to protect its property interests. If farmers like Bowman are able to use these seeds without paying the designated fee, they argue, it will remove the incentives for companies like Monsanto to innovate.

Bowman is a character out of a populist movie — a modern day Mr. Smith Goes to the Supreme Court. If he had bought the genetically modified Roundup Ready seeds directly from Monsanto, he would have been required to pay the company’s technology fee. But Bowman bought his seeds from a grain elevator, which sold him a mix usually used for livestock feed –a mix that happened to include seeds that were progeny of Monsanto’s patented Roundup Ready. Bowman argued that these progeny seed were not covered by Monsanto’s patent, so he had no duty to pay the company a fee.

More: http://ideas.time.com/2013/02/18/is-it-a-crime-to-plant-a-seed/

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Response to UnrepentantLiberal (Original post)

Mon Feb 18, 2013, 12:58 PM

1. I've been following this and really hope Mr. Bowman wins this case. Monsanto is a cancer on agra.

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Response to UnrepentantLiberal (Original post)

Mon Feb 18, 2013, 02:59 PM

2. This seems like a big deal.

Is this the first time the Monsanto seed issue has gone to the S.C.?

Bowman has a great chance of winning, I think. I understand the Monsanto's case, but few people side with them on this issue. I don't see how they can conceivably claim ownership on all the descendant seeds especially when those seeds develop on others property.

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Response to UnrepentantLiberal (Original post)

Mon Feb 18, 2013, 03:46 PM

3. Unless the farmer signed an agreement specifically with Monsanto...


His farming techniques, his choice of water, choice of fertilizers, choice of planting timings and methods of harvesting were all impactive of the final plants and thus offspring of those plants. Did Monsanto have anything to do with any of those things? Hardly.

Is this man taking Monsanto seeds, manipulating them in a laboratory and creating genetic copies for use in manufacturing a product or reselling of its technology? Don't think so.

Monsanto is embarrasing themselves with this kind of bad PR. But then again, they have fallen a long way down the ladder of corporate respect.

What next?

Does a company making an ultrasound device which allows a baby to be successfully born have the rights to a percentage of that child's income due to the techological advances that made that child's life possible? Should they be entitled to the very DNA of that child since, had it not been for them, the child would not exist?

Where does Monsanto get off?

I think we know where.


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Response to tomm2thumbs (Reply #3)

Mon Feb 18, 2013, 07:24 PM

6. If you believed Monsanto, it would be illegal for that child to have children....

Not a perfect analogy, of course, as the device manufacturer did not make any genetic changes. But you could question if a corporation that treated a fetus with gene therapy owns the reproductive rights of their patients.

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Response to UnrepentantLiberal (Original post)

Mon Feb 18, 2013, 04:50 PM

4. K&R.. thanks. Fuck Monsanto's Evil Innovation.

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Response to UnrepentantLiberal (Original post)

Mon Feb 18, 2013, 04:50 PM

5. Maybe the farmers don't see it the way monsanto is calling it their property after they already

purchased this seed... and I can't see how buying four cups of bagged rice at the store and producing eight cups cooked, should mean I go back to the store and pay for it once I cook it into eight cups... Monsanto needs step back from the Round Up chemicals.

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