Indiana Farmer Takes Seed-Giant Monsanto To Supreme Court

An Indiana farmer takes his case against Monsanto seed control to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Vernon Hugh Bowman, a 75-year-old Indiana soybean farmer, accompanied by his attorney Mark Walters, walk outside the Supreme Court in Washington (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Vernon Hugh Bowman, a 75-year-old Indiana soybean farmer, accompanied by his attorney Mark Walters, walk outside the Supreme Court in Washington (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Indiana farmer Hugh Bowman had his day in court yesterday. In the US Supreme Court. Battling American ag science giant, Monsanto. Over soybeans. Farmer Bowman uses Monsanto’s genetically-engineered beans to plant his soybean crop. They’re fine with that. He pays plenty for Monsanto’s high tech beans. But farmer Bowman also planted beans he bought at the grain elevator and put in his field. Monsanto did not like that. Those are ours, they said. We own that life. Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard the case. This hour, On Point: Farmer Bowman versus Monsanto, and who owns life.

- Tom Ashbrook


Vernon Hugh Bowman, farmer sued by Monsanto.

David Savage, covers the Supreme Court for the Los Angeles Times.

Gary Truitt, host of Hoosier Ag Today.

Debbie Barker, international program director at the Center for Food Safety.

Daniel Ravicher, executive director of the Public Patent Foundation and author of an amicus brief for the case in support of Farmer Bowman. (@danravicher)

From Tom’s Reading List

Los Angeles Times “An Indiana farmer who clashed with Monsanto Co. over his replanting of its patented soybean seeds ran into steady skeptical questions Tuesday from the Supreme Court.

The justices strongly suggested that they would rule for Monsanto and decide that the company’s patent protection for its genetically modified seeds covers not just the first planting, but also seeds that are generated later.”

Time “Have we really gotten to the point that planting a seed can lead to a high-stakes Supreme Court patent lawsuit? We have, and that case is Bowman v. Monsanto, which is being argued on Tuesday. Monsanto’s critics have assailed the company for its “ruthless legal battles against small farmers,” and they are hoping this will be the case that puts it in its place. They are also hoping the court’s ruling will rein in patent law, which is increasingly being used to claim new life forms as private property.”

Christian Science Monitor “A central issue for the court is the extent that a patent holder, or the developer of a genetically modified seed, can control its use through multiple generations of seed.”

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