Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Monsanto Beats Bowman, and We're the Losers

From the Heartland, Margot McMillen writes: “Don’t know if you saw this,” my sweetie said, pointing to a headline in the Wall Street Journal. It said, “Indiana Farmer Loses Fight Over Monsanto Seed Patent.” He said, “You probably knew about it…” Well, yeah, I hadn’t heard, but I suspected it. “A put-up deal.” I said. It’s the third or fourth time in the last week I’ve let my cynicism run free, and I’ll try to do better. In Bowman v. Monsanto, it was obvious from the first that the corporation had the precedents and cases to confirm that the patent holders would win their argument that Bowman owed them fees when he planted their seeds and harvested them. To paraphrase the Journal, “using the seed to reproduce itself infringed on Monsanto’s patent,” even though planting and harvesting has been the business of seed owners from the beginning of agriculture. Monsanto’s lead attorney repeated the hackneyed Monsanto line that the patented seeds represent “breakthrough 21st-century technologies that are central to meeting the growing demands of our planet and its people.” OK OK OK. I won’t comment on that line. But I will say that if citizens are to fight the takeover of seeds, agriculture, and food on “our planet and its people,” we can’t depend on help from the courts. We have to do it ourselves, and as soon as possible.

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