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March 30, 2001
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Monsanto wins case against Canadian farmer. Percy Schmeiser, who has attained folk-hero status, was held liable for growing genetically modified canola without paying the royalty. The decision in a federal court in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, was a significant setback for farmers who fear they will be held liable if pollen from neighboring farms blows onto their fields, transmitting patented genes to their crops without their knowledge or consent.
posted by gimli (6 comments total)

 
I hate Monsanto.
posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 4:00 PM on March 30, 2001


I hate Monsanto more! I hate them so much, that Crazy Uncle Joe loves them by comparison.


Now I have a headache.
posted by thirteen at 4:53 PM on March 30, 2001


I love Monsanto in a way that thirteen can scarcely imagine or even dare contemplate...

A rational ruling would have made Monsanto responsible for making sure that its crop were sterile and incapable of spreading or hybridizing with neighboring crops before it could claim "theft".

It seems to me to be similar to complaining about your house being burgled when you left the front door open.

Furthermore, this farmer should be suing Monsanto for pollution of his natural gene stock (an increasingly rare and valuable resource by the sound of it).
posted by lagado at 5:57 PM on March 30, 2001


Go read the decision (http://www.fct-cf.gc.ca/bulletins/whatsnew/T1593-98.pdf). It's clear that this wasn't a hybrid crop caused by accidental pollination; this was 100% pure Roundup Ready canola, deliberately saved by Schmeiser from a patch adjacent to his field. He got caught and tried to blow smoke up the court's ass, and it serves him right to have been caught at it.
posted by ffmike at 6:11 PM on March 30, 2001


Here in Saskatchewan, this has been a pretty hot topic. Some groups have suggested counter-suing for the GMO contamination, but Schmeiser has said he can't afford the legal cost at this time.

Here's the report from the local papers. [Warning, ugly site ahead]
posted by Monk at 6:19 PM on March 30, 2001


In a key part of the ruling, the judge agreed that a farmer can generally own the seeds or plants grown on his land if they blow in or is carried there by pollen. But the judge says this is not true in the case of genetically modified seed.

"He does not, however, own the right to the use of the patented gene, or of the seed or plant containing the patented gene or cell," the judge wrote.


So it's the use of a patented seed that makes it differ from its ownership. In which case a royalty payment is required.

This sounds to me like the farmer now has to test every seed in his posession before using it just in case it infringes a patent through fault of his own.

I can't see this as going to be workable in real biological systems particularly as these gene patents proliferate.
posted by lagado at 11:01 PM on March 30, 2001


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