Supreme Court Feb. 19 Hearing: Indiana Farmer Contests Monsanto's Ban on Re-Planting Its Patented Soybean Seed "Invention"
February 20, 2013 • 11:58AM

Arguments will be given today by an Indiana farmer, against Monsanto (Bowman v. Monsanto Co.), in the first of two hearings before the U.S. Supreme Court this Spring, contesting the practice of patent rights on living organisms. This wrongful practice, against all American law and tradition, was put in place since the 1970s, in tandem with globalization, through a sequence of laws and legal decisions, to the point that, not just food seed traits and biotech methods, but human genes have been patented.

On April 15, the Supreme Court will hear the case in which the biotech company, Myriad Genetics, claims the right to retain patents it took out on human breast cancer genes.

At issue today in the Monsanto case, is that the farmer, Vernon Hugh Bowman, a few years ago, planted soybean seeds bought from a commercial grain dealer, who in turn, had purchased them from a farmer who sold the crop he raised from his original soybean seed purchase from Monsanto. Monsanto insists that Bowman infringed on its patent rights by re-planting progeny from seeds Monsanto had "invented," and whose use and progeny belong to Monsanto. Bowman, not even contesting the principle of the patent-claim, says that even in patent-protection law, his use arises in circumstances which constitute "exhaustion" of the patent-holder's rights.

Monsanto's response is predictably arrogant and monetarist. Its brief says that giving in to the farmer, will "devastate innovation in biotechnology." The brief argues, "Investors are unlikely to make such investments [in biotech] if they cannot prevent purchasers of living organisms containing their invention, from using them to produce unlimited copies."

It is estimated that the seed from one acre of soybeans can produce enough seed for 26 acres. Such food increase — an offense to Monsanto.

In the sphere of patent-rights granted for human and animal genes, one company alone, Myriad Genetics, exerts patent rights over two human breast cancer genes, and controls licensing rights for all breast cancer gene-testing in the United States, and many other nations.