Bowman v. Monsanto: Day 1 Goes To Biotech Giant

Monsanto signIt’s the U.S. Supreme Court’s first day hearing oral arguments in a Monsanto patent case, but the scale seems to be tipping in the company’s favor.

The Associated Press is reporting that none of the justices seemed ready to side with Indiana farmer Vernon Hugh Bowman, who was sued by Monsanto for violating the company’s patent on herbicide-resisent soybean seeds.

In 1999, Bowman bought Monsanto’s Roundup Ready seeds for his main crop of soybeans, but purchased cheaper soybeans from a grain elevator for a late-season soybean planting, figuring that those seeds might be an offspring of Roundup Ready. They were, and he repeated the practice over eight years.

In 2007, Monsanto sued and was awarded an $84,456 judgement.

At issue is how far the patents extend, and the case is as closely watched as they come among researchers and patent-holding businesses and institutions. Monsanto’s Roundup Ready seeds came on the market in 1996 and are now used by more than 90% of American soybean farms. Monsanto prohibits farmers from saving or reusing seeds once the crops are grown.

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