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

Crop InputsPlatform Specialty Products To Acquire Arysta LifeScience
October 20, 2014
Once the acquisition is complete, Platform Specialty Products will combine Arysta LifeScience with previously acquired companies Agriphar and Chemtura Crop Solutions. Read More
MicronutrientsMicronutrients Going Macro
September 9, 2014
Between 2014’s fantastic growing conditions and a heightened awareness on plant nutrition, the major players in micronutrients are gearing up for another big year. Read More
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More
FungicidesSudden Death Syndrome, Brown Stem Rot Reported In Indiana Soybeans
September 3, 2014
Farmers and retailers should be watching for symptoms of these two diseases over the next few weeks as they are best managed through preventative methods. Read More

Trending Articles

HerbicidesAdjusting To The New Reality Of Weed Control
November 4, 2014
Even with new cropping systems being readied for market introductions, weed control will remain a challenge for many. Read More
StewardshipResponsibleAg Begins Auditor Training
October 31, 2014
ResponsibleAg auditor training is now underway at the Ford B. West Center for Responsible Agriculture in Owensboro, KY. Read More
InsecticidesNew Research Study Shows The Value Of Neonics
October 29, 2014
The study evaluated seed treatment, soil and foliar uses of neonicotinoid insecticides in the U.S. and Canada. Read More
Crop InputsPlatform Specialty Products To Acquire Arysta LifeScience
October 20, 2014
Once the acquisition is complete, Platform Specialty Products will combine Arysta LifeScience with previously acquired companies Agriphar and Chemtura Crop Solutions. Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Offers New Support For Ferguson, Area Communities
October 8, 2014
Monsanto Co. has committed $1 million in new support for several collaborative efforts in Ferguson, MO, and surrounding communities in North St. Louis County. Read More
Seed/BiotechUnapproved Genetically Modified Wheat Found In Montana
October 3, 2014
USDA reports that one year after discovery of Monsanto's unapproved wheat in a single Oregon field disrupted U.S. wheat export sales, the GMO wheat has again been found in Montana. Read More

Latest News

soybean field
Crop InputsABM Patents Microbial R&D Technique
November 25, 2014
Focused Microbial Diversity (FMD) is a newly patented technique employed by Advanced Biological Marketing (ABM) to research and develop microbials that will be used in ABM products Read More
Crop InputsStorage Options Help Grain Growers Go To Market
November 24, 2014
While on-farm storage in a traditional upright storage bin is one possibility for storing grain, it may not be for everyone. Read More
Eric SfiligojGiving Thanks For Another Great Year
November 24, 2014
As Thanksgiving Day 2014 arrives, agriculture has plenty to be thankful for. Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta Cost-Cutting Program To Affect 1,800 Jobs
November 24, 2014
The company's Accelerating Operational Leverage program will result in job reductions and relocations totaling around 1,800 across the company, the majority of which will occur in 2015. Read More
EquipmentAGCO Announces Operator Of The Year Finalists
November 20, 2014
Four custom applicators have been selected by AGCO Application Equipment as finalists for 2014 Operator of the Year, an honor that recognizes them as being among the top professionals in their industry throughout North America. Read More
MicronutrientsH.J. Baker Expands Tiger-Sul Business
November 20, 2014
H.J. Baker has created and filled two strategic positions in business development and sales within its Crop Performance Division. Read More
soybean field
FertilizerGeneral Mills Honors United Suppliers For Nitrogen Opti…
November 19, 2014
United Suppliers winning proposal detailed SUSTAIN, a consulting network that provides customized products and services for farmers using a needs-based system approach. Read More
EmployeesOhio AgriBusiness Association Awards $25,000 In Scholar…
November 19, 2014
Each year, the Ohio AgriBusiness Association Educational Trust scholarship program awards scholarship dollars to students enrolled in an agriculture-related field attending several state colleges. Read More
ManagementServi-Tech Names New CEO
November 17, 2014
Servi-Tech has named Greg Ruehle its new president and CEO. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Ag Acquires Colorado Aerial Application Outlet
November 17, 2014
Ft. Lupton, CO-based Reck Aviation — a full-service chemical application company providing aerial crop applications of fertilizers and crop protection products — will operate as part of Pinnacle's AgOne Application Services brand. Read More
Eric SfiligojMcDonald’s Message: Biotech Crops Scarier Than Cancer
November 17, 2014
Despite their potential health benefits, one of the world’s largest potato users will pass on a new biotech offering. Read More
MicronutrientsWinField Releases 2014 NutriSolutions Results
November 14, 2014
A number of significant regional and national crop deficiency trends emerged from the 2014 WinField NutriSolutions tissue sampling program. Read More
FertilizerH.J. Baker Opens Chinese Production Lines
November 14, 2014
The occasion was the official launch of the Tiger-Sul sulphur Bentonite production line of two much anticipated fertilizer products in China, T90CR sulphur fertilizer and TZinc micronutrient enhanced sulphur fertilizer. Read More
ManagementOhio Certified Crop Adviser Program Accepting Nominatio…
November 14, 2014
The award recognizes an individual who delivers exceptional customer service for farmer clients in nutrient management, soil and water management, integrated pest management and crop production in Ohio. Read More
HerbicidesSyngenta Announces Acuron Trial Plot Results
November 14, 2014
Acuron was tested at 167 trial locations across 35 states. Trials included 95 Syngenta locations, 54 university locations and 18 distributor locations. Read More
Crop InputsVerdesian Expands Sales Force
November 13, 2014
The new sales representatives will work with growers, retail partners and distributors to oversee technical training and product education. Read More
EquipmentAGCO Raises $100K For Wounded Warrior Project
November 13, 2014
AGCO Corp. partnered with local AGCO dealers across the U.S. and Canada to raise nearly $100,000 in support of wounded service veterans. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences Announces Launch Of Enlist Duo Herbici…
November 12, 2014
It will be launched in conjunction with a stewarded introduction of Enlist corn, and seed production of Enlist soybeans in 2015. Read More