Supreme Court hears Monsanto case today

Published online: Feb 19, 2013
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A case to be argued today before the U.S. Supreme Court has tremendous implications for agriculture.

The case, Monsanto versus Indiana farmer Vernon Brown, is over how long Monsanto can claim patent protection for genetically engineered seed.

Bowman has purchased Monsanto seeds for years for his main soybean crop but bought unlabeled "bin run" soybeans from a local elevator to plant after taking a winter wheat crop off some land in 1999. He even saved some of the beans from that crop to plant again.

Some of those soybeans turned out to be Roundup-Ready and Monsanto sued charging infringement of its patent. Bowman contends the patent only applies to the first generation of seed.

A lower court and a Federal Circuit Court of Appeals both ruled in favor of Monsanto in the suit.

The case could have tremendous implications not only for patented seed traits but patented stem cell lines and other protected biotechnologies and even patent law itself. Reuter's reports; "More than 50 organizations - from environmental groups to intellectual property experts - as well as the U.S. government, have filed legal briefs hoping to sway the high court."