Monsanto’s New Idea For Suing Farmers

Is the big, bad monster of biotech going to back off its aggressive litigation to force farmers to join their evil empire of GMO seeds? Maybe… Report via NPR:

For years, the biotech giant Monsanto has provoked outrage among its critics for suing farmers who save and replant seeds from the company’s patented Roundup Ready crops, such as soybeans and canola.

Some of that outrage is based on a decade-old case in Canada, in which a court ruled that a farmer, Percy Schmeiser, violated Monsanto’s patents by planting canola that he “knew or ought to have known” contained Monsanto’s Roundup Ready gene. Schmeiser argued that he didn’t want the gene in his fields, and that it had become incorporated into his canola via wind-blown pollen.

Monsanto won that case, but the company might have been better off losing because the victory has been a public relations disaster. Around the world, many people now believe, mistakenly, that Monsanto is suing farmers for growing patented seeds that wandered into their fields without the farmers’ knowledge and against their will.

So it caught our attention last week when a lawyer representing Monsanto in federal court seemed to admit that suing Schmeiser had been a mistake that the company would not repeat.

The lawyer for Monsanto, Seth Waxman, was being questioned by Judge William Bryson, from the U.S. Appeals Court for the Federal Circuit. In the case, a group of mostly organic farmers had hauled Monsanto into court, claiming that they are being damaged by the possibility that Monsanto might sue them. Bryson wanted to know what actions would convince Monsanto to sue a farmer, and Waxman came up with this:

“In the real world, Judge Bryson, the cases Monsanto brings are cases in which it has come to learn that the farmer is not purchasing any Roundup Ready seed, but is spraying his fields with Roundup, and the plants are surviving. If the farmer were not spraying, by definition he wouldn’t be taking advantage of Monsanto’s technology.”

Under Waxman’s common-sense standard, Monsanto wouldn’t have brought its case against Schmeiser. That’s because in that case, the company did not produce any evidence that Schmeiser was taking advantage of Monsanto’s technology by spraying his crop with Roundup…

[continues at NPR]


Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

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5 Comments on "Monsanto’s New Idea For Suing Farmers"

  1. BuzzCoastin | Jan 15, 2013 at 7:57 pm |

    when I heard about this case years ago
    I couldn’t figure out how Monsanto could sue, let alone win

    but now that Roundup is on it’s way out
    (weeds have evolved defenses against it)
    Monsanto, a military weapons company,
    has dropped it’s quest to protect it
    but it’s a bizmess decision based on ROI
    and not a change of heart

  2. Monsanto are the real criminals.

  3. I wouldn’t want to bet the farm that Monsanto won;t use the argument their attorney said they will no longer make again against some other organic farmer without deep pockets.

  4. kowalityjesus | Jan 16, 2013 at 4:36 pm |

    I used to be seriously anti-gmo because when you blur the lines of species you might encounter some serious health risks as well as incredibly complex philosophical conundra. Since I realized that they used radiation in the 20th century to induce mutations to speed selective breeding of higher-yield crops, I have not been as outraged. It is really just a radical evolution of our millenia-old farming techniques.

    However, I wish it wasn’t in the format of “giant evil corporation bent on profit with little regard to world and human health.”

  5. david webster | Jan 17, 2013 at 7:33 pm |

    monsanto in court with farmers who did not plant monsanto seed or want

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