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Monsanto Lawsuit Vs Indiana Soybean Farmer Reaches US Supreme Court: How Far Does a Seed Patent Go?

US Politics & Gov't  (tags: Indiana soybean farmer, Hugh Bowman, Roundup Ready soybeans, "commodity seeds", Monsanto, patent protections, Monsanto legal assault, Supreme Court, corporate domination of agribusiness, control of seeds, Center for Food Safety, Save Our Seeds )

- 1929 days ago -
75-yr-old farms 300 acres just like dad did. Unorthodox (for Monsanto) farming techniques have landed him at center of national battle over GM crops. Now @Supreme Court, his case raises ??s, eg. does right to patent living things extend to their progeny?

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Sue Matheson (79)
Sunday February 10, 2013, 3:01 am
a very interesting case thanks

LucyKaleido ScopeEyes (82)
Sunday February 10, 2013, 3:14 am
From the Guardian, 9 February 2013 - "Indiana soybean farmer sees Monsanto lawsuit reach US supreme court - Who controls the rights to the seeds planted in the ground? A 75-year-old farmer takes the agricultural giant to court to find out"

This is just the end of the posted article:
"...But Bowman has numerous supporters who believe his case could help reform aspects of commercial farming – that is now dominated by huge corporations rather than small or family-run business – to vital reforms. Bowman's legal team intends to argue that the case could open the industry to greater anti-trust scrutiny, arguing that large corporation's vice-like grip on farming and control of seeds needs to be loosened. "It opens up these transactions (buying seeds) to greater anti-trust scrutiny by the Department of Justice. Right now they are sheltered by patent trust protection," said Bowman's lawyer Mark Walters.

Campaign groups are also eager to back the case. This coming Tuesday, farming campaign groups the Center for Food Safety and Save Our Seeds will release a joint report examining the modern seeds industry. The organizations are enthusiastic backers of Bowman's cause. Debbie Barker, a program director for SOS, said a Bowman victory at the supreme court could nudge the industry towards opening up and treating seeds as a common resource, not a fiercely fought-over commercial battleground. "It would help with wider reforms," Barker said. SOS believes Monsanto and other major firms are less concerned with protecting interests in research than in their lucrative business model. After all, just three firms now control more than 50% of the global seed market.

Yet, despite the vast sums of money involved in modern farming, it is ironically Bowman's own lack of cash that has seen the case end up at the supreme court. Monsanto has a long record of reaching settlements with commercially pressured farmers it targets for patent infringements. But when the firm sued Bowman, he was already bankrupt after an unrelated land deal went wrong. Thus, he had little to lose. "I made up my mind to fight it until I could not fight it anymore," he said. "I thought: I am not going to play dead." "

The Supreme Court case Bowman v. Monsanto is slated to be heard sometime in early spring 2013, according to

The Center for Food Safety, the True Food Network -December 10, 2012 - "Center for Food Safety, Save Our Seeds File Supreme Court Brief Testing Monsanto Attack on Farmer for Seed-Saving" - "Case pitting corporations against farmers set to impact the future of seed patents"

Reuters News & Insight / Legal - Supreme Court conundrum: How far does a soybean seed patent go?

Washington Post, Feb. 6, 201. - Farmer’s use of genetically modified soybeans grows into Supreme Court case

Ben O (171)
Sunday February 10, 2013, 4:40 am
Monsanto is pure EVIL, that's all I have to say about that...

katarzyna phillips (6)
Sunday February 10, 2013, 5:26 am
another sign of the rich getting richer and the poor becoming poorer!

Teresa W (782)
Sunday February 10, 2013, 5:27 am
Ben is right!

Past Member (0)
Sunday February 10, 2013, 9:32 am
Thanks for sharing.

Jelica R (144)
Sunday February 10, 2013, 8:16 pm
A few years ago there was a similar case in Canada, and I think that Monsanto lost it at first instance. So, this is not over yet. Also, I remember reading about an Australian organic farmer who sued Monsanto for poisoning his land (though he formulated his appeal differently). NGOs all over the world; consumer protection and environmental activists are siding with him, getting ready to observe the trial and provide any assistance needed. Sorry I can't give more detailed info here, I am over my head into coal power plant which is approved to be build in my backyard, and I keep one eye on the Alberta tar sands and "Idle no More" movement. That is keeping me from engaging in many interesting discussions here. There is so much going on; but priorities, priorities...

Jelica R (144)
Sunday February 10, 2013, 8:44 pm
From The Institute for Responsible Technology:

Genetic Roulette—The Gamble of Our Lives was just awarded the Top Transformational Film of 2012 by AwareGuide! More than 15,000 people from 50 countries voted for 30 films, including three on this year’s Academy Award shortlist. But Genetic Roulette was the “clear winner" by a wide margin.

This honor is the second award for Genetic Roulette, which also won 2012 Movie of the Year by the Solari Report. In celebration of all those who voted (and whose lives were transformed by the movie), we are extending the free screening through February 10th.


Autumn S (151)
Monday February 11, 2013, 4:54 am
I agree with Ben!

Jaime Alves (52)
Monday February 11, 2013, 5:02 am

Kay H (0)
Monday February 11, 2013, 5:04 am
Yes, Ben has it right.

paul m (93)
Monday February 11, 2013, 5:12 am


Frans Badenhorst (582)
Monday February 11, 2013, 6:22 am
.... GMO - people playing God, you WILL get burned Monsanto - sooner than later...

Robert K (31)
Monday February 11, 2013, 6:46 am
Monsanto should be the one paying for their contamination of the farmer's crop. Say $250,000 per acre?

If they cannot prove that their pollen will not leave the fartm that bought their GMO seeds then they should be enjoined from selling them. How could any court disagree for any reason other than corrupt judges?

Any patent on living organisms should expire in a maximum of five years, too.

jeanne schreurs (205)
Monday February 11, 2013, 6:46 am
I agree with Ben.

Kip Mapes (28)
Monday February 11, 2013, 6:53 am
"I will destroy those that destroy my creation." God Till then We all should buy hundreds of shares of Monsatin and short the stock we own thru options.Run those -astards into the ground. It is what they do to small start ups that inter the stock market.Bite their wallet!

LucyKaleido ScopeEyes (82)
Monday February 11, 2013, 7:53 am
People - watch the documentary film, Genetic Roulette, that Jelica has linked to ! It is hair-raising! And will soon be pulled off the site. I am lucky to be able to watch it still, as it's Feb 11th, & the deadline for being able to view it online for free was yesterday.

Quick, while there's still time!

Debra Van Way (12)
Monday February 11, 2013, 1:15 pm
Too bad one can't really put a curse on evil doers like Monsanto and their ilk. I bet THEY all eat organic food. Why on earth farmers even use the crap seed in the first place has me scratching my head. I just bought more organic seed today for my garden. I prefer real food to gmo crap that is causing so many weight and health problems for folks that don't know any better.

Rose Becke (141)
Monday February 11, 2013, 1:39 pm

Donna W (0)
Monday February 11, 2013, 2:38 pm
With all the information currently in the news about Roundup killing bees and earthworms, super weeds appearing which are immune to Roundup, and GMO crops causing organ failure and failure to reproduce in test animals, you'd think the courts would simply stop Monsanto from continuing to sell these seeds. Maybe all of us citizens should bring a class action suit enjoining Monsanto to prove their seeds and their chemicals are harmless before they can sell any more of that stuff! I've seen many other countries banning GMO foods. Why can't our country protect us? Does our government only love corporations?

Natalie V (27)
Monday February 11, 2013, 3:13 pm

Jelica R (144)
Monday February 11, 2013, 3:34 pm
Just checked. Free screening of "Genetic Roulette" is still available on the IRT page.

Birgit W (160)
Monday February 11, 2013, 3:46 pm
Thank you

Winn A (179)
Monday February 11, 2013, 6:53 pm

Jelica R (144)
Tuesday February 12, 2013, 6:43 pm
Report by the Center for Food Safety (CFS) and Save Our Seeds (SOS) Seed Giants vs. U.S. Farmers was released today.

"The report investigates how the current seed patent regime has led to a radical shift to consolidation and control of global seed supply and how these patents have abetted corporations, such as Monsanto, to sue U.S. farmers for alleged seed patent infringement.

Seed Giants vs. U.S. Farmers also examines broader socio-economic consequences of the present patent system including links to loss of seed innovation, rising seed prices, reduction of independent scientific inquiry, and environmental issues.

Among the report’s discoveries are several alarming statistics:

-- As of January 2013, Monsanto, alleging seed patent infringement, had filed 144 lawsuits involving 410 farmers and 56 small farm businesses in at least 27 different states.

-- Today, three corporations control 53 percent of the global commercial seed market

-- Seed consolidation has led to market control resulting in dramatic increases in the price of seeds. From 1995-2011, the average cost to plant one acre of soybeans has risen 325 percent; for cotton prices spiked 516 percent and corn seed prices are up by 259 percent.

Additionally, Seed Giants vs. U.S. Farmers reports a precipitous drop in seed diversity that has been cultivated for millennia. As the report notes: 86% of corn, 88% of cotton, and 93% of soybeans farmed in the U.S. are now genetically-engineered (GE) varieties, making the option of farming non-GE crops increasingly difficult.

While agrichemical corporations also claim that their patented seeds are leading to environmental improvements, the report notes that upward of 26 percent more chemicals per acre were used on GE crops than on non-GE crops, according to USDA data."

Free download of Seed Giants vs. U.S. Farmers (PDF)

Jelica R (144)
Tuesday February 12, 2013, 8:11 pm
A Wake Up Call from Vandana Shiva; video, 8 min.

Jelica R (144)
Tuesday February 12, 2013, 8:28 pm
Genetically Engineered Meat, Coming Soon to a Supermarket Near You

Tell the FDA: No GE salmon on our plates

Tell the FDA You Don’t Want Genetically Engineered Meat

Tell FDA: Do Not Approve Genetically Engineered Salmon!

LucyKaleido ScopeEyes (82)
Wednesday February 13, 2013, 5:16 am
I owe you a whole bunch of stars, Jelica!

LucyKaleido ScopeEyes (82)
Wednesday February 13, 2013, 5:24 am

AVAAZ - Stop the Frankenfish attack -
Sign the Petition
To Margaret A. Hamburg Commissioner US Food and Drug Administration

As global consumers, we ask you not to approve AquaBounty’s transgenic salmon for human consumption. Genetically modified fish pose a real threat to natural marine species and the long-term effects of consuming transgenic meat have not been sufficiently researched. Worse, FDA's approval of transgenic salmon could open the floodgates for genetically modified animals worldwide. We ask that you reject its approval.

977,298 have signed. Let's get to 1,000,000

Update: 11 February 2013

Wow -- amazing response! In days, we’ll deliver our petition to the US Food & Drug Administration and create a media storm. Help us reach 1 million by signing and sharing the petition to your right!

Jelica R (144)
Thursday February 14, 2013, 3:49 pm
981,783 have signed.

FDA is receiving comments/petitions for frankenfish until Feb. 23. Let's make our voices heard.

LucyKaleido ScopeEyes (82)
Friday February 15, 2013, 11:59 am
"Genetic Roulette" hasn't been pulled of the site yet! Still can be viewed.

pam w (139)
Wednesday February 20, 2013, 1:09 pm
Pretty soon, Monsanto will do inspections of my garden and tax me for the plants I grow.

LucyKaleido ScopeEyes (82)
Wednesday February 27, 2013, 4:25 am
February 21, 2013, Democracy Now! - Bowman v. Monsanto: Indiana Farmer’s Supreme Court Challenge to Corporate Control of Food Supply

Guest: Debbie Barker, program director of Save Our Seeds and international director of the Center for Food Safety. She co-authored the new report "Seed Giants vs. U.S. Farmers" we've been talking about on this post& that Jelica gave us the link to.

The most recent update I've been able to find is an article on Huffington Post, dated 02/25/2013, which sounds worse than gloomy for Bowman & everyone against patenting nature: "The argument had about as much chance as a seedling in a hailstorm"!

"The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments for Vernon Hugh Bowman v. Monsanto Co.


It is painful to read the transcripts. (Bowman's lawyer) Walters' argument is continually INTERRUPTED, CHALLENGED and DISMISSED by the judges, who JOKE and CHUCKLE through the proceedings. Seth Waxman, the lawyer for Monsanto, is largely given FREE REIGN to develop Monsanto's case. Not that the judges were discriminating against Vernon Bowman under the law. Under the law, Bowman was toast.

The rationale for infinite generational patent protection was given by Chief Justice Roberts in his opening question to Bowman's lawyer:

"Why in the world would anybody spend any money to try to improve the seed if as soon as they sold the first one anybody could grow more and have as many of those seeds as they want?"

Well, certainly a corporation like Monsanto wouldn't."


"Imagine an African-American son or daughter of enslaved parents in the antebellum U.S. trying to argue that they were not private property because she or he had never been bought or sold. Just like Monsanto's patents on living genes, the ownership of human beings under slavery extended to second, third and all generations. Monsanto is master of the seeds -- and the farmers who have little choice but to buy them are rapidly becoming serfs, legally bound to the giant's genetic fiefdom."
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