Monsanto still suing farmers for seed saving

Monsanto still suing farmers for seed saving

The Associated Press.
July 8, 2001,
Farmer fighting lawsuit over seed planting

FORT WAYNE, Ind.

Troy Roush is fighting more than insects and weather as he tends to the
soybeans on his family farm in Grant County.

He's also fighting a lawsuit.

St. Louis-based Monsanto has filed a federal lawsuit accusing the Roush
family of violating its patent by saving seed from genetically
engineered soybeans to use the following year.

The lawsuit is one of at least two dozen pending across the country as
Monsanto tries to protect its patent on Roundup Ready soybean seed,
which is genetically modified to tolerate the company's Roundup
herbicide. The company requires farmers who buy such seed to sign a
agreement stipulating that they will not re-use it.

"If we don't file these lawsuits and permit the product to be used
without
(farmers) paying the technology fees, we jeopardize our rights to the
patent," said Miles P. Clements, a New Orleans attorney representing
Monsanto in the case against the Roushes.

Monsanto sued Troy Roush, his brothers Todd and Tony and their father
Ronald, and TDR Farms last year in federal court in Fort Wayne, alleging
they planted Roundup Ready soybeans in 1999 and 2000 that they had saved
from previous years.

The company claims the Roushes signed a technology agreement, but the
Roushes say a seed dealer forged their names on the document.

The family has filed a countersuit saying Monsanto has no legal right to
enforce its patent. Troy Roush estimated his family has spent about
$150,000 in legal fees. A pre-trial conference is set for spring 2002.

"They're counting on us folding up shop and quitting before it goes to
court," he said. "If it went to court, Monsanto would be embarrassed."

The U.S. Supreme Court is to hear arguments this fall in a similar case
involving Pioneer Hi-Bred International and decide whether companies
like Pioneer and Monsanto have the right to patent plants.

Monsanto won a similar case in Canada in March against a farmer who
claimed pollen from modified plants had blown onto his property from
nearby farms or off passing trucks.

A Monsanto spokesman said the company is simply trying to keep a level
playing field for farmers who pay the technology fee.

"We go to court only as a last resort when we cannot resolve a case any
other way," said Loren Wassell.

Genetically modified soybeans were planted on 68 percent of the
country's soybean fields this year, according to the U.S. Department of
Agriculture.

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