Monsanto: Why We Sue Farmers Who Save Seeds

Monsanto patents many of the seed varieties it develops. Patents are necessary to ensure that Monsanto is paid for its products and all the investments it puts into developing products. This is one of the basic reasons for patents. A more important reason is to help foster innovation. Without the protection of patents there would be little incentive for privately-owned companies to pursue and re-invest in innovation. Monsanto invests more than $2.6 million per day in research and development that ultimately benefits farmers and consumers. Without the protection of patents, this would not be possible.

When farmers purchase a patented seed variety, they sign an agreement that they will not save and replant seeds produced from the seed they buy. More than 275,000 farmers a year buy seed under these agreements in the U.S. Other seed companies sell their seed under similar provisions. They understand the basic simplicity of the agreement, which is that a business must be paid for its product. The vast majority of farmers understand and appreciate Monsanto’s research and are willing to pay for inventions and the value they provide. They don’t think it’s fair that some farmers don’t pay.

A very small percentage of farmers do not honor this agreement. Monsanto does become aware, through its own actions or through third-parties, of individuals who are suspected of violating its patents and agreements. Where violations are found, typically Monsanto will settle most cases without ever going to trial. In many cases, those same farmers remain Monsanto customers. Sometimes however, Monsanto is forced to resort to lawsuits. This is a relatively rare circumstance, with 145 lawsuits filed since 1997 in the U.S. This averages about 11 per year for the past 13 years. To date, only 9 cases have gone through full trial. In every one of these instances, the jury or court decided in Monsanto’s favor.

Whether the farmer settles right away, or the case settles during or through trial, the proceeds are donated to youth leadership initiatives including scholarship programs.

Monsanto pursues these matters for three main reasons. First, no business can survive without being paid for its product. Second, the loss of this revenue would hinder its ability to invest in research and development to create new products to help farmers. Monsanto currently invests over $2.6 million per day to develop and bring new products to market. Third, it would be unfair to the farmers that honor their agreements to let others get away with getting it for free. Farming, like any other business, is competitive and farmers need a level playing field.


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15 comments on “Monsanto: Why We Sue Farmers Who Save Seeds

  1. I'd like to know how many growers they've sued and put out of business for cross-pollination because their field sits next to a Monsanto field and the wind blows the wrong direction? Because my understanding is that THAT number is substantially higher than 145.

  2. What a load of crap. Monsanto ought to be sued for trespassing and ruination of crops when their products blow into a non-Monsanto field. Instead, they sue the farmer whose farm they have trespassed. Every time we eat beef or chicken or turkey that has been fed GMO grain, we are ingesting pesticides and herbicides into our bodies. Do we really want that? Worse, they continue to do their work in our cells. Monsanto is slowly killing America with their patents.

  3. OMG! Monsanto is the most evil company in the world. and with each passing day it is getting more evil! They are doing this damage since 1910.. DDT.. PCBs.. Agent Organge.. GMOs.. terminator seeds.. god knows what more they are going to do.. Govts are with them.. policy makers are with them.. Money is with them.. The only that are against them are the people..

  4. This from the company that designed the most perverse and (one would hope, because the opposite would be incalculably evil) short-sighted terminator seed. A company that has produced some truly horrendous chemicals. A slightly more paranoid mind would say it's by design. Monsanto should be sued for at the very least pollution, if not crimes against the future of humanity.

  5. It is difficult to think of what to say after reading the first 5 comments. You people don't believe anything in this article cause its from Monsanto. So what do you believe? where do your facts come from? oh yes, a youtube video called 'the world according to monsanto'. Certainly, that sounds like a credible source of scientific information…?!*#!??? GET A GRIP PEOPLE!!! QUIT BELIEVING PROPAGANDA AND START LISTENING TO THE FACTS!!! DO SOME RESEARCH ON YOUR OWN!!! If you don't believe the peer-reviewed scientific proof that shows GMO foods are no more harmful than our 'normal' food supply, that is your own problem. BUT, that does not give you the right to point fingers and assign blame when your only source is un-proven propaganda. so… provide facts to back up your accusations or SHUT UP!!! 'NUFF SAID.

  6. @ SRHUEN: on your comment "Because my understanding " so where did you get your understanding? Monsanto has sued one farmer for cross-pollination. this was because the farmer claimed that cross-pollination contaminated his field. Upon further examination, investigators found that 90% of his crop had GMO in it. if you know anything about plants and pollen and cross-pollination, it is impossible to get 90% from cross-pollination. What had actually happened, is the farmer saved or stole seed without signing a contract to do it. Monsanto won, obviously cause the farmer stole the seed. and i know this is gonna bring up the issue of saving seed… and if you know anyting about production agriculture, you know that there are reasons to buy new seed every year, which depend on the crop… for corn, farmers grow hybrid seed. why? cause hybrid seed yields way more than self-pollinated seed. for soybean, which is self-pollinated, you could save seed and get an acceptable yield. so why can't farmers do that? because seed companies invest a ton into their products and need to make money to pay for that. yes, they need to make money to stay in busines. when you go to a movie in the theater, do you pay once and then get to watch the movie as many times as you want? no! you pay each time if you want to see it again. why? cause it cost MONEY to make the movie. or you can wait til it comes out on DVD and buy it and watch it as many times as you want. same thing with seed, you can wait for patent to expire and you can then keep the seed. if you want to keep seed, then farmers can buy seed from a company or public institution and keep it. why don't they do that? cause they don't perform as well as the products from private companies who have invested millions into developing the product.

  7. @ Cris: your comment " we are ingesting pesticides and herbicides into our bodies". ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND???? what proof do you have of this? (credible proof). GMO is not pesticide. do you realize this? do you even know what GMO is/means? look it up and read about it! Herbicides and pesticides were used way before GMO's came about (and they were more toxic, like atrazine for example). so were you eating pesticides and herbicides then???? give me a break…

  8. since i mention credible sources, thought i would help out and provide some info on that. and i don't normally consider Wikipedia as a credible source, but its a starting point. the URL below will have 362 references on the topic of GMO controversies… this is a good starting point to find real facts and not propaganda. some are biased (from both sides of the issue) others are true peer-reviewed scientific journals. Best of Luck to you-

  9. So if my pit-bull goes in to my neighbor’s yard and tares him to shreds according to this law which works for Monsanto it would be his fault for not having a fence! Is that the way the law works?

  10. […] plan to wrangle an asteroid may get shot down.. Must read: 50 worst scam charities revealed.. Monsanto: Why we sue farmers who save seeds Explain this dieters: We eat 600 fewer calories a day than 30 years ago but weight 30 pounds more […]

  11. @DH You might try to deny it, but I’m thinking that you must work for Man-satan-o. Why else would someone champion a company that does such evil things?

  12. @DH. You need proof? A group of 29 scientists formed Task Force on Systemic Pesticides to review more than 800 scientific studies on pervasive insecticides (read: GMO) and concluded that they were causing “significant damage” to bees, worms and snails. The threat, they concluded was ona a scale of DDT, the pesticide that was banned in the 70’s. This is not “propoganda” this is scientific proof!

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