Supreme Court Says Monsanto Has ‘Control Over Product of Life’

weyland-yutaniT1Jacob Chamberlain writes at Common Dreams:

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday in favor of biotech giant Monsanto, ordering Indiana farmer Vernon Hugh Bowman, 75, to pay Monsanto more than $84,000 for patent infringement for using second generation Monsanto seeds purchased second hand—a ruling which will have broad implications for the ownership of ‘life’ and farmers’ rights in the future.

In the case, Bowman had purchased soybean seeds from a grain elevator—where seeds are cheaper than freshly engineered Monsanto GE (genetically engineered) seeds and typically used for animal feed rather than for crops. The sources of the seeds Bowman purchased were mixed and were not labeled. However, some were “Roundup Ready” patented Monsanto seeds.

The Supreme Court Justices, who gave Monsanto a warm reception from the start, ruled that Bowman had broken the law because he planted seeds which naturally yielded from the original patented seed products—Monsanto’s policies prohibit farmers from saving or reusing seeds from Monsanto born crops.

Farmers who use Monsanto’s seeds are forced to buy the high priced new seeds every year.

Ahead of the expected ruling, Debbie Barker, Program Director for Save Our Seeds (SOS), and George Kimbrell, staff attorney for Center for Food Safety (CFS), asked in an op-ed earlier this year, “Should anyone, or any corporation, control a product of life?”:

Bowman vs. Monsanto Co. will be decided based on the court’s interpretation of a complex web of seed and plant patent law, but the case also reflects something much more basic: Should anyone, or any corporation, control a product of life?

[Monsanto’s] logic is troubling to many who point out that it is the nature of seeds and all living things, whether patented or not, to replicate. Monsanto’s claim that it has rights over a self-replicating natural product should raise concern. Seeds, unlike computer chips, for example, are essential to life. If people are denied a computer chip, they don’t go hungry. If people are denied seeds, the potential consequences are much more threatening.

Bowman had argued that he was respecting his contract with Monsanto, purchasing directly from them each year, but couldn’t afford Monsanto’s high prices for his riskier late season crops. Bowman’s defense argued that Monsanto’s patent was “exhausted” through the process of natural seed reproduction and no longer applied to Bowman’s second generation seeds.

“If they don’t want me to go to the elevator and buy that grain,” Bowman had stated, “then Congress should pass a law saying you can’t do it.”

The Center for Food Safety released a report in February which shows three corporations control more than half of the global commercial seed market.

As a result, from 1995-2011 the average cost to plant 1 acre of soybeans rose 325%.

As AP reports, more than 90 percent of American soybean farms use Monsanto’s “Roundup Ready” seeds, which first came on the market in 1996.

Vandana Shiva, an expert on seed patents and their effects on farmers around the world, wrote recently:

Monsanto’s concentrated control over the seed sector in India as well as across the world is very worrying. This is what connects farmers’ suicides in India to Monsanto vs Percy Schmeiser in Canada, to Monsanto vs Bowman in the US, and to farmers in Brazil suing Monsanto for $2.2 billion for unfair collection of royalty.

Through patents on seed, Monsanto has become the “Life Lord” of our planet, collecting rents for life’s renewal from farmers, the original breeders.

36 Comments on "Supreme Court Says Monsanto Has ‘Control Over Product of Life’"

  1. Anarchy Pony | May 14, 2013 at 11:35 am |

    Words fail me…

    • emperorreagan | May 14, 2013 at 12:00 pm |

      You’ve become divine rage?

      • Anarchy Pony | May 14, 2013 at 12:20 pm |

        No, just impotent rage.

        • Simon Valentine | May 14, 2013 at 12:45 pm |

          is there a difference?

          anywho, this document is Genetically Engineered.
          so is the news.
          so are listeners and readers.
          all one has to do is leave out key variables.
          then apparently it’s like art
          and one can come to whatever conclusion or indefinite

          it is possible they (‘Monsanto’) have predicted that replanting the GE beans will change their viability and compatibility with Round Up.

          develop a competing market. present to the supreme court that at least 5 distinct organizations are required. good luck to us to acquire the education necessary.

          • Competition? Not effective or quick enough.

          • Simon Valentine | May 14, 2013 at 7:05 pm |

            i definitely don’t disagree
            and having worked at a supposed Ford dealer
            for over 8 years
            i can attest to the shenanigans of ‘competition’
            ‘fair value’
            heck, even colleges are in ‘competition’
            and if it’s time to pull down competition
            start with the obvious

            ‘professional’ ‘sports’

            you’d be surprisingly unsurprised at the amount of WRONG that happens, and how even Good people get so confused and strung out that they don’t even realize what they’re fighting for when they fight, and trust me, there are people who do fight. clubs. spades. Automobiles. Racketeering as orthodox ‘protected’ action otherwise illegal as a form of ‘contracting’. i could go on and on and on. specific questions are fine

            *edit* i don’t mean this in a personal way towards you or any reader in particular in a way that’s meant to be anything much more than engagingly informative

  2. Liam_McGonagle | May 14, 2013 at 12:08 pm |

    If you rely upon armed “law” enforcement officers to make your product economically viable, can it really be said to be “productive”?

    • Anarchy Pony | May 14, 2013 at 12:21 pm |

      Does it generate revenue? Then”yes”.

      • Liam_McGonagle | May 14, 2013 at 12:33 pm |

        Agree. I guess most people really do take that kind of cherry-picked, half-baked sort of point of view.

        It may be a personal eccentricity of mine, but I always thought that a proposition’s best proofs lay in challenges against it rather than support for it.

        Here, for example, the first thing that would occur to me would be to contrast the concept of “production” which means to create a thing that didn’t exist before, with the notion of “extraction”, which is really just a shuffling around of things that exist independently of the activity itself.

        As I see it, revenue generation isn’t so much an act of creation as a re-categorization of the monetary unit in which it’s denominated. It isn’t a “real” economic activity.

        • Simon Valentine | May 14, 2013 at 12:48 pm |

          kinda need to go back to the beginning on this one.

          Round Up.

          want change?

          buy bean hooks and work for farmers for an equivalent or lesser amount than the cost to use Round Up and said beans. or present the case to the supreme court that not only That plan be developed, but also that there be a minimum of 3 and preferably 5 organizations instead of solely Monsanto.

          not that the S.C. is legit or condoned.

          • Anti-trust? Yeah, I always like that law. Haven’t seen that one used effectively since Bobby Kennedy.

            I still remember the parochial school teachers explaining that law with great pride, you could feel it in her voice, even after the brothers had been assassinated.

          • Simon Valentine | May 14, 2013 at 7:38 pm |

            maybe it’s too much to think of farming for some people, but the variables involved in deciding How To and What To and who when where etc., considering their limited minds are elsewhere.

            A) no one is required to grow soybeans
            B) people are saying soy product is evil
            C) people are saying soy product is a wonderful solution
            D) less soybeans grown means bean hooks are better
            E) de facto antitrust organization “NATURAL PRODUCE”

            so F, there’s already an ‘antitrust’ movement. some factor that into assassination, yeah? it’s like “don’t disrupt the fucking bears” “by the way, yes, we mean to say, don’t interrupt our procreating” “bang”

            now you’ve gone too far

          • Work for less? No thanks. I’d prefer coercion backed up by force.

          • Simon Valentine | May 14, 2013 at 7:14 pm |

            i’d swear on my crystal ball you’re a regular member of a work force, middle-ish class as they say, not that i pay much attention to what that sort of they say.

            so, i know what you mean. i experience it from any particular angle a day, to the point it becomes a regular polygon. >.< for me, 'work for less' i sometimes embody (rarely to this date; i was imbibed with a concentrated dose of conscience, to the point of pain) as a resolve-type pike tactic. "come at it, cavaliers!"

            just look at Illinois to see that people will go to no ends of excuses to pretend they're lawful andor portend to an illusory authority. come to illinois to get mind-mugged, i.e.

          • Your crystal ball is wrong. I’m recovering from an injury and currently out of work.

          • Simon Valentine | May 15, 2013 at 10:58 am |

            hmm sounds like a fetish
            i’m glad my … ?opinion? hasn’t encountered any coercion backed up by force in that it’s the crystal ball’s existence that is wrong. does this mean i don’t have a crystal ball? here’s to wishing to you your … ?sarcasm? … ?satire? get well soon, yeah?

    • Bluebird_of_Fastidiousness | May 14, 2013 at 2:01 pm |

      Ask the CIA and their drug cartels.

  3. I wonder what the nuts and bolts politics/economics of farming life are that they can’t simply use other seed company’s products. I’m not saying Monsanto isn’t one big turd of a company that doesn’t deserve eco terrorism but it surprises me how much hate there is for the company yet they’re so profitable. Maybe the hate is all coming from society at large and not as much within the agri-community.

    • Simon Valentine | May 14, 2013 at 7:27 pm |

      graveyard zerging

      notice how rarely anyone actually mentions specific law or specific data. all it really does is set up a dystopian planar section of The Infernal City for people to feast on. Oblivion Lords ftw

      veritable 12 monkey’s playground

      and most days i feel more like Mr. Pitt than Mr. Willis

  4. emperorreagan | May 14, 2013 at 1:34 pm |

    Weeds were shown to be able to develop Round-Up resistance before Monsanto ever bribed the FDA to allow their shitty product on the market. Round-Up Ready crops should never have been allowed on the market in the first place. Scientists have already pointed out that the same thing will happen with Monsanto’s stacked trait crops – the weeds will catch up.

    I suspect one element of Monsanto’s legal gambit is that the window is closing on farmers finding Round-Up Ready seed useful. They’ll use the courts to keep extracting profits long after farmers no longer see the value in contracts with Monsanto. They’re polluting the food supply for short term profit and the courts are a means to keep extracting a little more profit at the end of the useful life of their “innovation.”

    Also – in a Mother Jones article they said one of the arguments that Monsanto scientists made to claim that weeds wouldn’t develop Round-Up resistance is that it was really hard for them to engineer it in! No way could natural selection beat a scientist!

    • Simon Valentine | May 14, 2013 at 8:05 pm |

      are these words Round Up ready words?

      *academic glare*

      ALL THE DATA is there anyway so why not do the same analysis vein (in vain?) on grass.


      just when i thought being republican couldn’t be any easier
      but it aint no white water rafting
      and that line aint crooked when the devil wags its tail

      the point is that any analysis of data applies not solely to Monsanto beans, in which case the obvious lack of quantification yields that “there be monsters”

      to anyone who reads this:
      ever try to figure out which stupid tire you wanted?
      how many variables and questions did you go through just to choose a round black rubber thing?

  5. Calypso_1 | May 14, 2013 at 2:35 pm |

    One Grain to Rule Them

    • There’s a really good Sci-fi biopunk novel called _The Windup Girl_ by Paolo Bacigalupi.

      Clearly it is fiction, but it conveys a gripping portrayal of the biological and sociological dystopia which can result from unrestrained corporate greed and the pursuit of biotechnological dominance.

      If AgriGen can just capture Thailand’s heirloom seedbank, global dominance will be theirs for the taking…

      • InfvoCuernos | May 14, 2013 at 5:13 pm |

        got it, haven’t read it yet. Just moved it to the top of the reading list.

  6. what has all this got to do with the Weyland – Yutani Corp ? – disinformation indeed!

    • Jin The Ninja | May 14, 2013 at 5:00 pm |

      how much did you pay monsanto for your genetically modified daisy seeds?
      more importantly, how much do they pay you to troll message boards?

      if ‘alien’ taught us anything- it’s that corporations love bioweapons second only to profit.

      • Apathesis | May 14, 2013 at 5:31 pm |

        Thank you. The connection should be obvious to anyone who paid attention to the first two films.
        “Ash is a goddamned robot!”

      • Matt Staggs | May 15, 2013 at 10:21 am |

        This guy. This guy gets it.

    • Matt Staggs | May 15, 2013 at 10:20 am |

      I get a five cent bonus every time someone says some variant of “disinformation indeed!”

  7. John Johnson | May 14, 2013 at 4:13 pm |

    This is truly horrifying. How is it that after he bought the seeds that they are not his to do with as he sees fit? If I buy a book I can loan it out, burn it, or bury as I see fit as it is my property. We are in the danger zone and the Supreme Court is pushing us over the cliff into Monsanto’s gaping profit hungry maw.

    • Simon Valentine | May 14, 2013 at 7:23 pm |

      having property is not in 1 to 1 correspondence with immunity from legality i.e. “owning x” does neither permit nor warrant one to “illegal action y” … i assume you know this idea, so
      leaving it as entrusted property, you are?

      what you see as fit is only in 1 to 1 correspondence with “you would never see fit to “illegal action y”” iff ?

      that’s just a generic layout, buzzards feel free to cast bones.

      citizenship: having entrusted property illegally converted in any old orthodox fashion since [sic]

  8. The various bio-tech industries own patents on 21% of the human genome and a large number of the food plant’s genomes.

    As an example highlighted in today’s news concerning Angeline Joline’s diagnosis of her high cancer risks and her choice to undergo the radical surgery. So, why are all women not asking for this test?
    Because the test involves a specific pair of genes which happens to be…..surprise, surprise patented by. Myriad Genetics holds a patent on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, the critical genes used in their diagnostic test If you decided to get the test it
    will set you back, at minimum, $3000.00 because they have a
    monopoly… so …no cost cutting competitors ….so …they can
    charge what ever the market will bear.

  9. This will encourage Monsanto to DELIBERATELY contaminate all agriculture in the US, so that they can sue every farmer that doesn’t pay them tribute. Monopoly on ALL agriculture is the end-game for Monsanto. This will eventually sicken the entire population of North America, and if it’s not stopped, natural forces will spread it to the rest of the world.

    • I don’t think they needed any encouragement. They’ve been calling the shots all along.

  10. Why are we the only country that promotes and caters to Monsanto and is willing to kill off half the population in doing so? Oh, wait a sec, I think I just answered my own question!

Comments are closed.