Monsanto V. Bowman: Taking A Stand For Innovation

A Missouri farmer holds biotech soybean seed before planting in the summer of 2008.
A Missouri farmer holds biotech soybean seed before planting in the summer of 2008. 

 

PERSPECTIVE   Here’s how I see it: We’ve placed a single bullet in a six-gun revolver, spun the cartridge, put it to the head of the golden goose, and pulled the trigger. As the hammer comes down, the Supreme Court is now left to tell us whether the gun will fire, or simply click on an empty chamber.

While Monsanto is standing as proxy to the golden goose, the real treasure in the battle between the embattled biotech giant and Indiana farmer Vernon Hugh Bowman is innovation and intellectual property.

The Supreme Court hearing on Feb. 19 marked the end of a very long road, which began in 1999 when Bowman bought seed from an elevator for double crop soybeans that contained the Roundup Ready (RR) gene. As we all know too well, RR seed can’t be reused under any circumstance as stipulated by the contract Bowman signed when he bought his first crop seed, so Monsanto sued.

So the high court must now decide definitively whether or not Monsanto can indeed enforce its patent, just as any company can, against individuals making and using copies of its proprietary technology.

Let’s face it, Monsanto technology rewrote the rule book on seed production, purchasing, and planning for the great majority of rowcrop farmers. You buy new every year, and not unlike many consumer products, you’re buying an “upgrade” that is undergoing improvement year after year due to faster methods of breeding and selection.

And it works. Really well. If you took a look at ag retailer balance sheets from 1997 and 2007 and compared them, you’d have to ask, “where’d that weed control program go?” Billions upon billions of dollars in crop protection products disappeared, and we all learned to adapt.

Meanwhile, growers never had it so easy, and fields never stayed so clean. Nature has caught up in recent years, as it always does, but we’re in a better position now to deliver alternative solutions and keep American growers on the fast track, in large part because the market rewards innovation.

Bottom line: no reward, no innovation.

It’s a human inclination to want to see the high and mighty in this world get tweaked, and frankly, Monsanto has been the poster child for reasons both deserved and not deserved. But now, when innovation itself is under fire, we as an industry should be united.

Fierce competitors are standing beside Monsanto, and asking the Supreme Court to rule in its favor as the proxy for innovation in agriculture. And all of us in ag — including farmers, who have been the most critical of Monsanto for its fees and enforcement tactics but who also have the most to lose in this Supreme Court case — should be standing together and defending innovation through patent protection.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

4 comments on “Monsanto V. Bowman: Taking A Stand For Innovation

  1. John, I would suggest you take a trip outside the US and visit some farms. I think you would change your "small farmer" menatlity. You're a US grower, with access to the best technology and soils in the world – pretty much at your fingertips. Be leader…not a complainer.

  2. Could a farmer who had not signed an agreement with monsanto (1) buy seed from the grain bin supplier (2)treat with roundup to kill the non roundup ready plants (3) harvest the seeds and (4) plant a new generation without paying Monsanto…. Could Monsanto sue and prevail in Court?

  3. It's very simple if you do not like Monsanto don't buy their seed. Absolutely no one is forcing you to use Monsanto trait seed. We pay the higher price for trait seed because it provides us with higher-yielding's easier weed control and greater profits. They do have the right to protect their patents.

Crop Inputs Stories

HerbicidesHerbicides 2017: New Cropping Systems Set For Debut
December 7, 2016
Herbicide-resistant weed are inching ever-closer to a potentially frightening saturation point here in the U.S. Heading into 2016, USDA planting Read More
Winter wheat
HerbicidesTalinor Herbicide Approved For Wheat And Barley
December 7, 2016
Talinor herbicide from Syngenta has received federal registration from the U.S. EPA, giving wheat and barley growers a new option Read More
Palmer pigweed seedhead in cotton
HerbicidesNew WSSA Factsheet Explores Weed Seeds And Their Longevity
December 7, 2016
Did you know some weed seeds can lie dormant in the soil for more than a century and then sprout Read More
Crop InputsARA 2016: 5 Developments Worth Monitoring Into 2017
December 6, 2016
You can pretty much set your watch to it (do people even still wear watches? I know I do…but I’m Read More
Trending Articles
Mike Stern
Precision AgClimate Corp. CEO Talks Retailer Support For Digital Ag
December 1, 2016
CropLife Magazine’s sister publication, AgriBusiness Global, recently sat down with Mike Stern, CEO of The Climate Corp., following the Monsanto subsidiary’s Read More
Precision AgTrimble Debuts End-to-End FMIS Platform
November 28, 2016
October’s inaugural PrecisionAg Vision Conference left this author with many thoughts and things to ponder in the coming months. Probably Read More
CHS Primeland
CropLife 100The 2016 CropLife 100 Report: Reviewing The Many Bulls And Bears Impacting This Year’s Marketplace
November 28, 2016
For virtually all of 2016, the nation was wholly focused on the big Presidential election. Some folks aligned themselves with Read More
Monsanto sign
Crop InputsMissouri Governor Meets With Bayer CEO To Discuss Monsanto Merger
November 21, 2016
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon visited Bayer AG global headquarters in Leverkusen, Germany, on November 18 to discuss the proposed Bayer-Monsanto Read More
STS16 2017
SprayersHagie Manufacturing Releases 2017 STS16 Sprayer To Market
November 16, 2016
Hagie Manufacturing LLC’s largest full season applicator is now available with enhancements for the 2017 model year. Hagie is officially Read More
Wilco
CropLife 100Valley Agronomics, Wilco-Winfield To Form New Agronomy Joint Venture
November 11, 2016
Valley Agronomics LLC, headquartered in Rupert, ID, is a joint venture between Valley Wide Cooperative and Winfield Solutions, LLC. Wilco-Winfield, Read More
Latest News
HerbicidesHerbicides 2017: New Cropping Systems Set For Debut
December 7, 2016
Herbicide-resistant weed are inching ever-closer to a potentially frightening saturation point here in the U.S. Heading into 2016, USDA planting Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Acquires Michigan Ag Retailer
December 7, 2016
Wilbur-Ellis’ Agribusiness, a recognized leader in precision agriculture technology and the distribution and marketing of plant protection, seed and nutritional Read More
Fertilizer storage The Andersons
CropLife 1002016 Fertilizer Report: Another Really Rough Year For A…
December 7, 2016
In many ways, the fertilizer category cannot seem to catch a break. During the early part of the 2010s decade, Read More
R4023 Sprayer, John Deere
CropLife 100Ag Retail Equipment Report: The Green Party Continues
December 7, 2016
In the annual race for sales in the ag retail equipment marketplace, the color schemes for participants are a little Read More
Winter wheat
HerbicidesTalinor Herbicide Approved For Wheat And Barley
December 7, 2016
Talinor herbicide from Syngenta has received federal registration from the U.S. EPA, giving wheat and barley growers a new option Read More
Forage Sorghum
UncategorizedMilestone Achievement Continues For Dow AgroSciences, A…
December 7, 2016
New and innovative forage products are on the horizon driven by continued collaboration between Dow AgroSciences, a wholly owned subsidiary Read More
Palmer pigweed seedhead in cotton
HerbicidesNew WSSA Factsheet Explores Weed Seeds And Their Longev…
December 7, 2016
Did you know some weed seeds can lie dormant in the soil for more than a century and then sprout Read More
Crop InputsARA 2016: 5 Developments Worth Monitoring Into 2017
December 6, 2016
You can pretty much set your watch to it (do people even still wear watches? I know I do…but I’m Read More
Tim McCardle, ARA Chairman
CropLife 100BRANDT COO Named ARA Chairman
December 5, 2016
BRANDT EVP and Chief Operating Officer Tim McArdle has been named chairman of the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) during a Read More
Crop InputsWilbur-Ellis Receives ResponsibleAg Certification At Mo…
December 5, 2016
Wilbur-Ellis Co., a recognized leader in precision agriculture technology and the distribution of crop protection products, announces the ResponsibleAg certification Read More
Young Corn Closeup
Eric SfiligojThe Read On 2017 For Agricultural Fortunes Is Anybody’s…
December 5, 2016
As I (and others) have written in recent months, the nation has just experienced one of the most offbeat election Read More
Acceleron B-300 seed coating
Crop InputsThe BioAg Alliance Launches New Yield-Boosting Microbia…
December 5, 2016
As part of their commitment to develop and commercialize innovative microbial solutions for farmers through The BioAg Alliance, Monsanto Co. Read More
ManagementCorn and soy planting update; Takeaways from Climate Co…
December 2, 2016
AgriBusiness Global Editor Dave Frabotta Joins Paul Schrimpf for a discussion of global corn and soybean planting trends, and a Read More
Radish cover crop taproot
Crop InputsSoil Health Institute, Datu Research Receive Grant To E…
December 1, 2016
The Soil Health Institute (SHI) and Datu Research have announced a $626,000 grant from the Walton Family Foundation to quantify the Read More
Mike Stern
Precision AgClimate Corp. CEO Talks Retailer Support For Digital Ag
December 1, 2016
CropLife Magazine’s sister publication, AgriBusiness Global, recently sat down with Mike Stern, CEO of The Climate Corp., following the Monsanto subsidiary’s Read More
ManagementAg Industry Comes Together To Address Climate Change
December 1, 2016
Addressing climate change — and more specifically, decreasing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture — can only be achieved through collective Read More
Young soybean field
HerbicidesLiquid Formulation Valor EZ Herbicide Available For 201…
December 1, 2016
Valent U.S.A. Corp. has released Valor EZ; a liquid formulation of the company’s leading herbicide, Valor. Named Valor EZ Herbicide Read More
Key Cooperative Marcus Construction Steel Building
ManagementThe Value Of Cooperatives In Modern Agriculture
December 1, 2016
Editor’s Note: Jaxon Mullinnix of  Lone Tree, IA, was recently named the Iowa state winner of the 2017 GROWMARK essay Read More