Who Can Own Life? Farmer vs. Monsanto Before US High Court
By Lauren McCauley
Source: Common Dreams
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Indiana soybean farmer, Hugh Bowman, is taking his one-man-war against agriculture giant Monsanto to the Supreme Court on Tuesday where both sides will present their arguments (.pdf) to the high court. The suit calls into question essential patent rights and, more importantly, challenges whether anyone can legally "control a product of life."
Ahead of Tuesday's hearing, CFS and SOS issued a report, "Seed Giants vs. U.S. Farmers," (.pdf) which examines how the "current seed patent regime has led to a radical shift to consolidation and control of global seed supply and how these patents have abetted corporations, such as Monsanto, to sue U.S. farmers for alleged seed patent infringement."
Some of the reports findings include:
As of January 2013, Monsanto, alleging seed patent infringement, had filed 144 lawsuits involving 410 farmers and 56 small farm businesses in at least 27 different states.
Today, three corporations control 53 percent of the global commercial seed market.
Seed consolidation has led to market control resulting in dramatic increases in the price of seeds. From 1995-2011, the average cost to plant one acre of soybeans has risen 325 percent; for cotton prices spiked 516 percent and corn seed prices are up by 259 percent.
“Corporations did not create seeds," said the reports lead author Debbie Barker, adding that their assertion of seed patents threatens a resource "that is vital to survival, and that, historically, has been in the public domain.”