By Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent
The US Supreme Court came down solidly on the side of the agricultural giant Monsanto on Monday, ruling unanimously that an Indiana farmer could not use patented genetically modified soybeans to create new seeds without paying the company.
The case – which was cast by the farmer’s supporters as a classic tale of David vs Goliath – could well dictate the future of modern farming.
In an unanimous ruling written by Justice Elena Kagan, the court ruled that the farmer, Vernon Bowman, had infringed on Monsanto’s patent for its GM soybeans when he bought some of those seeds from a local grain elevator and planted them for a second, late-season crop. Monsanto sued, arguing that Bowman had signed a contract when he initially bought the Roundup Ready soybeans in the spring, agreeing not to save any of the harvest for replanting. The seeds are genetically modified to be resistant to Roundup Ready weedkiller.
On Monday, the nine justices agreed. Kagan rejected the farmer’s main argument, that Monsanto’s patent was exhausted, because he had bought the seeds from a grain elevator. “Patent exhaustion does not permit a farmer to reproduce patented seeds through planting and harvesting without the patent holder’s permission,” she wrote.
Bowman, who is in his 70s, grew up in south-western Indiana and has farmed the same stretch of land for most of the past four decades………………..
- Supreme Court rules for Monsanto in case against farmer (npr.org)
- Monsanto wins landmark patent case in Supreme Court (thedailysheeple.com)
- Monsanto wins landmark patent case in Supreme Court (rt.com)
- Goliath Beats David as Court Rules for Monsanto Over Farmer (blogs.lawyers.com)
- Supreme Court Rules on Seed Patent Case (hoosieragtoday.com)