[A2k] Deal With the Devil: Monsanto vs Own Growers

Riaz K Tayob riaz.tayob at gmail.com
Thu Oct 11 01:37:54 PDT 2012

  Deal With the Devil: Monsanto vs Own Growers

By Tim McCoy, Natural Society

09 October 12

he case of Vernon Bowman v Monsanto is headed to the Supreme Court, a 
case in which Monsanto is fighting against one of its own GMO farmers. 
Mr. Bowman is a farmer from Indiana who grows soybeans, and has 
challenged the biotech giant over its official agreement. Bowman started 
buying Monsanto's GMO soybeans in 1999 and signed the Monsanto 
Technology Stewardship Agreement (MTSA), which is detailed below. Bowman 
adhered to the MTSA for these seed purchases and did not save the seeds 
for replanting in subsequent years, per the contract.

However, in 2007 Bowman bought some seeds from a grain elevator that 
contained Monsanto's GMO soy seeds in the mixture that he used for a 
late-season second planting. Bowman did save and replant the Monsanto 
GMO seeds from this second generation batch.

Monsanto does authorize growers to sell their second-generation seed to 
grain elevators as a commodity and does not require restrictions on 
grain elevators' subsequent sales of that seed.

 From Monsanto's Technology Stewardship Agreement: 


  * To plant and/or clean Seed for Seed production, if and only if,
    Grower has entered into a valid, written Seed production agreement
    with a Seed company that is licensed by Monsanto to produce Seed.
    Grower must either physically deliver to that licensed Seed company
    or must sell for non-seed purposes or use for non-seed purposes all
    of the Seed produced pursuant to a Seed production agreement. Grower
    may not plant and may not transfer to others for planting any Seed
    that the Grower has produced containing patented Monsanto
    Technologies for crop breeding, research, or generation of herbicide
    registration data.

Despite Monsanto allowing seed to be sold to grain elevators and 
restriction-free sales of those seeds by the grain elevators, a lower 
court ruled that growers who buy second generation seeds and plant them 
infringe on Monsanto's patent when new seeds self-replicate, creating 
new genetic material, seeds and plants.

Bowman contends that Monsanto's patent is exhausted after seeds have 
been sold to a grain elevator and that it is foreseeable and natural 
that seeds would be used for their intended purpose of planting.

If Bowman wins, Monsanto will suffer an economic blow because farmers 
will be able to buy cheaper second generation GMO seeds that they can 
save and re-plant. If Monsanto wins, 'patent exhaustion' legal 
definitions and rulings will be turned on their head and will have to be 
modified for self-replicating products.

Either way it works out, the proliferation of GMO crops will likely 
increase --- a major problem from the citizens of the world. That is why 
it is essential that we continue to push for Prop 37, the GMO labeling 
bill centered in California. Meanwhile, this Supreme Court case is an 
open display in how Monsanto will even turn on its own growers for profits.

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