May 25, 2013
Soybean Farmer Takes Monsanto to Supreme Court
Posted on Feb 9, 2013
A single 75-year-old Indiana soybean farmer in rural southwestern Indiana is taking on the multibillion dollar agricultural giant Monsanto over the issue of who controls the rights to seeds planted in the ground.
When confronted with the David vs. Goliath nature of his battle, Vernon Hugh Bowman told The Guardian: “I really don’t consider it as David and Goliath. I don’t think of it in those terms. I think of it in terms of right and wrong.”
In the next few weeks, legal teams representing Bowman and Monsanto will face off in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. The dispute pertains to Monsanto’s “aggressive protection” of a proprietary soybean it calls Roundup Ready. The bean has been genetically engineered to resist its Roundup herbicide and the product’s generic equivalents.
The company maintains that when farmers like Bowman plant Monsanto’s seeds, they are obligated to harvest only the resulting crop and not use any of it for planting the following year. The arrangement means that farmers have to buy new Monsanto seeds each year.
“[D]espite the vast sums of money involved in modern farming, it is ironically Bowman’s own lack of cash that has seen the case end up at the supreme court,” Paul Harris reports at The Guardian. “Monsanto has a long record of reaching settlements with commercially pressured farmers it targets for patent infringements. But when the firm sued Bowman, he was already bankrupt after an unrelated land deal went wrong. Thus, he had little to lose. ‘I made up my mind to fight it until I could not fight it anymore,’ he said. ‘I thought: I am not going to play dead.’ ”
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
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