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Supreme Court to Rule on Monsanto's Soybean Patent

Wired Magazine: Imagine a licensing agreement for buying seeds that allows them to be used only once a season. They cannot be resold for planting, and cannot be used for research, crop breeding or seed production.

Those indeed are the terms of seed giant Monsanto’s licensing agreement for its “Roundup Ready” soybeans, regardless of how unnatural the conditions may seem when it comes to farming. This is farming in the age of patented, genetically modified organisms, which in this case concerns soybean crops that withstand herbicide.

The Supreme Court is weighing in on the soybean patents, agreeing to hear an appeal by a Knox County, Indiana soybean farmer who was ordered to pay $84,456 in damages and costs to Monsanto in 2009 for infringing those patents. Farmer Vernon Bowman’s dirty deed? The 74-year-old bought soybean seed from a local grain elevator that was contaminated with the patented seed, which he used to produce beans on his 299 acres.

The case addresses the question of how far down the stream of commerce — in this instance the farming cycle — can a company control its patents, especially for products like soybeans that easily self-replicate. A lower court, an appeals court and even the Obama administration maintain the stream is virtually endless.

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LIBERTY2ME's picture

If this guy bought the seeds

If this guy bought the seeds from someone else. than it is the someone else that should be sued, not this farmer. Even if he went to purposely look for it, big deal. When you go to a garage sale and come across a real true first addition, but the seller doesn't know it, would you grab it for a deal? Then possibly even turn around and sell it, right?

I don't think anyone should be sued but it doesn't sound like this farmer is at fault.

Good point but...

This guy isn't just buying a first addition and selling it. He's buying the first addition, copying it, then selling the copies.

Seems to me like the guy is doing exactly what the patent was trying to protect against and exactly what he knew he wasn't suppose to do; which is copying Monsanto's modified seed.

If ignorance is bliss, Washington DC must be heaven.

this can all be solved by the

this can all be solved by the obvious, yet avoided issue: food cannot be patented. but considering years of public school brainwashing telling us that george washington carver "invented" peanut butter, i'm not really surprised people think that way.

ps: every time you chew peanuts, you're making peanut butter--and coincidentally, infringing on Carver's namesake.

I'd agree that food cannot be patented

but this isn't a bean you can pick off any old plant. Don't get me wrong. I really don't like big businesses that snuff out the competition and do shady things, but you have to give credit where credit is due. Monsanto, I'm sure, put a lot of their resources into developing this specific seed. Unless someone has actually read the patent and would like to correct me, I really doubt the patent protects against the NATURAL process of the traits spreading, like wind pollination. Monsanto's seed would eventually spread anyway they're just trying to keep that from happening for as long as possible in order to make a profit on their investment.

If the guy went out of his way to find Monsanto's seed to reproduce it, against the patent and terms of their product, which he obviously knew since he didn't keep the seeds from his first crop, he's guilty.

If ignorance is bliss, Washington DC must be heaven.

horticulturalists also spend a lot of time

horticulturalists also spend a lot of time and effort to selectively breed plants for desirable qualities, but they don't get patents for those plants. both processes involve changing the DNA, but genetically modifying the DNA saves time. if monsanto gets a patent for a GMO plant, then every company who also breeds new plants should get patents as well, otherwise there is a double standard that is most likely attributable to crony capitalism.

Guys please read this article

Guys please read this article as well.


Article from a few weeks ago. From this article I gather that the farmer purchased the seed from the local grain elevator that was contaminated with Monsanto’s. Then used that seed to plant second season crops. Which is fine and dandy. But he took it a step further. He purposefully tested the entire second season crop with glyphosate which allowed him to identify the Monsanto strains and save the Monsanto seeds for next year.

He went out of his way to identify which plants carried the Monsanto modifications to use them later. This guy might not be as innocent as we think. It's one thing if the Monsanto seeds just happened to be in the seed he got from the grain elevator. Its something completely different when he searches out Monsanto seeds to reproduce purposefully.

If ignorance is bliss, Washington DC must be heaven.


Could actually be a setup to allow the Supreme Court to rule in Monsanto's favor...why would a farmer spend tons of money JUST to get the Monsanto corn? He wouldn't...the Good Old Boys are setting us up.

And, I predict that even though the VASTE MAJORITY of voters in California are FOR labeling GMO's that it will still be shot down. Remember when we all KNEW that legalizing Marijuana in California would pass? Well, somehow it was also shot down. Watch Colorado, they are voting to legalize marijuana on Nov 6th and THE VAST MAJORITY want it legalized there. I have come to believe that even if 99% of Americans are for legalizing marijuana the US drug cartel would find a way to ignore it. The War on Drugs is the way the government will increase control over the people.

On the other hand, if the

On the other hand, if the farmer selected FOR the resistant seeds it would make a decision AGAINST Monsanto much more useful. If the case were a farmer who hadn't done that, but had just used contaminated seed, they could go to court afresh again later.

This is not just an issue for people trying to rip off Monsanto's mods. Granted glyphosate resistance is pretty much an invention and not found in nature. But if a farmer tries to breed his crops for some other useful characteristic, Monsanto happens to have done a GMO hack to promote the same characteristic, and his crop got contaminated with their pollen, he'd be up a creek. Monsanto could thus use pollen plus the patent system to attack competitors, blocking anyone else from making a whole CLASS of improvements just by patenting ONE improvement in the class.

= = = =
"Obama’s Economists: ‘Stimulus’ Has Cost $278,000 per Job."

That means: For each job "created or saved" about five were destroyed.


Why did the Supreme Court PASS on hearing the NDAA being unconstitional case? Why is the Supreme Court rushing through a case this month on the "Reselling any previously purchased products not made in America (like your chinese made I-phone)?? I guess we don't really buy things, we just rent them.

So now all of a sudden the Supreme Court is hearing a Monsanto Case as to whether or not Montsanto can have a patent on ALL corn seeds?? Want to guess how this rushed through case is going to be judged?? If the Supreme Court rules AGAINST Monsanto then I will be the most shocked American in the entire country!

LIBERTY2ME's picture

Totally, completely 100%

Totally, completely 100% agree. Couldn't have said it better myself.
Is there somewhere where we can place bets on the Supreme Court rulinig? I'd like to try to make some money on this...

FDA allowed GMO without Testing

Government is the problem.

GMO should have never been on the market. Yes, the government allowed GMO without any testing when the FDA scientists disputed the safety of GMO and urged their superiors for long term testing. There are over 44,000 pages of documentation by FDA scientists saying GMO should not be on the market until proven safe. The head of the FDA, Michael Taylor, former attorney for Monsanto, said that GMO was no different than other food so no testing was necessary.

Because of the FDA,USDA and EPA, Monsanto has no regulation. Monsanto can put any of their foods into the market without scientific testing.

Go to around 5:48 of the Documentary and hear how the Government illegally allowed GMO on the market.

Access to Documentary "Genetic Roulette"

Pass: Dfue51@jmc

"With enough of us, around the world, we’ll not just send a strong message opposing the privatization of knowledge — we’ll make it a thing of the past." ~ Aaron Swartz

Farmers can CHOOSE if they want to use Monsanto's technology!!!

Monsanto can choose to do whatever it so pleases with THEIR technology. They created it so they can decide how they want to sell it. They can put any restrictions they so desire. It is their choice not our and not the governments.

If farmers think it isn't worth it, then they have the choice to not plant it. We farmers aren't forced to plant Monsanto's technology, we choose to do so because it provides us with more income. Their new technology RR2 isn't worth it to us so we won't plant it. It is the free market working its magic.

As for us consumers, we can CHOOSE to buy or not GMOs. Go to your local Whole Foods store and just buy stuff there if you don't want to have any GMO. If you are unwilling to pay the extra cost then you have the CHOICE to go buy at a normal grocery store.

STOP trying to make this an issue that the government NEEDS to solve. The government help will only make things worse. When did it become the government's job to decide what is good or bad for us anyhow? Can't we just decide that for ourselves????!!!!

The issue is that he bought seeds

that were not supposed to be from Monsanto but they were contaminated with Monsanto seed. I don't see that as the farmer's fault. As far as Whole Foods not selling GMO check out this link

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    you didn't read the OP--

    this man didn't choose Monsanto's seeds; he bought some from a local elevator that were contaminated with Monsanto's GMOs, and now he is being punished--

    this is ugly stuff--

    it's hard to be awake; it's easier to dream--

    The farmer should sue

    The farmer should sue Monsanto for contaminating his crops with their objectionable seeds and ruining what would have been a GMO-free product.

    I think there's more to this

    Check out one of the posts someone made. has a link to an older article. Seems like the guy was knowingly seeking out Monsato's GMO seeds in his second crops to use.

    What I don't get is how they expect their patent to follow a PRODUCT of their ORIGINAL product. If I buy equipment for a factory, build the factory, then start to produce Widget X, the company I bought the equipment from when building the factory to make Widget X do not have rights to Widget X nor can they sue me for using their equipment to make Widget X...right? That seems like what Monsato is trying to do. A patent shouldn't follow the PRODUCT of a PATENTED product.

    If ignorance is bliss, Washington DC must be heaven.


    there is an agreement for % in future profits from the Widget X....

    All misunderstandings can be solved based on agreement made during the business transaction.

    But that is like a royalty. I

    But that is like a royalty. I don't think that has anything to do with patent infringement.

    If ignorance is bliss, Washington DC must be heaven.


    But it has everything to do with capitalism, business contract and the WIDGETS.

    I do not understand the fuss

    1) Patents are important to encourage big capital investment that takes years to recover. The patent law should not be abused though via extensions and inclusion of bogus stuff (programming algorithms, business models, etc.)

    2) Regardless of patents, a business agreement is a corner stone of business transaction under capitalism. The seller should be free to set any terms he wants. The buyer either agrees or finds another seller or goes for another product.

    Free markets do not work by

    Free markets do not work by force. The guy selling the best product wins. Not by the government protecting him. There should be no protections by the government in the market place.

    tell that to something that can grow--

    tell seeds what the business wants them to do--

    this is ludicrous!

    it's hard to be awake; it's easier to dream--

    Despite the comments below this has NOTHING to do with labeling

    This is a reflection of the bullshit nature of patents in general. Monsanto is far from the only entity abusing patent laws. This is a direct consequence of government intervention and a failure of misguided commerce laws.

    So what to do the progressives want to do? More government laws! It seems to me that many people here just want to get revenge on Monsanto. "Hey let's get revenge on Monsanto by writing a poorly conceived bill to give the government sweeping power over ambiguous food labeling! That will teach them! Bigger government is the solution! It doesn't matter how many innocent producers are screwed over by new regulations, all that matters is that we get a small revenge against Monsanto!"

    Look At Ingredients

    In stuff at the store. Chances are if it has high fructose CORN syrup in it then it is GMO. Watch "FOODINC"


    Monsanto has an Insider

    Yes, they really do, Justice Clarence Thomas use to work for Monsanto, and still has some ties to them. You can more than likely expect to see him support Monsanto in this case.

    "Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world...would do this, it would change the earth. "
    — William Faulkner


    There is a BIG revolving door between the FDA USDA Monsatano, and the white house. Lots of evil people involved.


    whatever happened to the exhaustion doctrine?


    While I am at it, whatever happened to property rights?

    “The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants.” — Albert Camus

    Some of the terms may be

    Some of the terms may be invalid under that doctrine (alias "first sale"). But the important ones relate to growing additional generations of crops containing the genetic modifications. The first paragraph of the wikipedia article covers that explicitly:

    the patent owner retains the right to exclude purchasers of the articles from making the patented invention anew, unless it is specifically authorized by the patentee.

    IMHO Monsanto and the courts are 'way off base when they apply Monsanto's patents to people whose seed crops have been inadvertently contaminated, such as by pollen from a nearby field. (If anything, Monsanto should be the damaging, rather than the damaged, party. Especially if it's an organic grower who's not taking advantage of, say, a roundup resistance modification because he's not using glyphosate weed killers.) Maybe the Supremes will come up with something sane.

    = = = =
    "Obama’s Economists: ‘Stimulus’ Has Cost $278,000 per Job."

    That means: For each job "created or saved" about five were destroyed.

    pressure from below

    ... pressure from higher up.

    • make your own local food-freedom activism group and build numbers
    • quietly and effectively lobby all food-service reps and local gov :
    non-gmo / no bromate / no fluoride / no hfcs / dissolve Monsanto / break up big agra
    • empower local sovereignty via advanced tech private greenhouse shares w/ sovereign farming
    • dismantle most large corporate advantages: end corporate personhood