Soybeans

Monsanto’s controversial restrictive seed-saving policy has landed the agrochemical giant in another legal battle. Filed by the Center for Food Safety and Save our Seeds, the organizations challenged Monsanto’s right to sue farmers for alleged patent infringement.

The organizations dedicated to the promotion of sustainable farming methods, filed the brief as it relates to the forthcoming case by Monsanto against 75-year old farmer, Vernon Hugh Bowman, which should be heard by the Supreme Court in early 2013. The Indiana soybean farmer is accused of saving seeds and replanting them the following season, which goes against Monsanto’s policies, despite it being one of the paramount practices of agriculture for thousands of years. “What was formerly a free, renewable resource has now become a privatized commodity,” said Debbie Barker, SOS program director in a statement. “Current patent regimes impact not only the historical fundamental right to save seeds, but, ultimately, the right and access to food.”

The charged issue has landed more than 100 farmers in court, with most ordered to repay Monsanto—the multibillion-dollar business—for lost revenues. The issue sparked outrage amongst 5 million Brazilian farmers who are currently in a legal battle over royalties and patent rights with Monsanto.

A Monsanto spokesperson refused questions on the case, directing us instead towards “outside experts who are closely following the case” including members of the American Soybean Association, which is made up largely by GMO companies. The company did release this statement: “The U.S. patent system protects—and should protect —the rights to easily replicated technologies like herbicide-tolerant seeds, just as it does for those who invent computers or life-saving medicines… This protection is central to our nation’s longstanding commitment to innovation and, if altered, could have profound consequences for a range of industries—from agriculture to medicine to environmental science.”

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Image: NRCS SD