"High-Stakes Fight Over Soybeans at High Court"

Today the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case testing the reach of GMO companies' market power based on intellectual property claims -- and while environment and health are not immediately before the court, a case that could have wide impacts on both.

"WASHINGTON -- Vernon Hugh Bowman seems comfortable with the old way of doing things, right down to the rotary-dial telephone he said he was using in a conference call with reporters."

But the 75-year-old Indiana farmer figured out a way to benefit from a high-technology product — soybeans that are resistant to weed-killers — without always paying the high price that such genetically engineered seeds typically bring. In so doing, he ignited a legal fight with seed-giant Monsanto Co. that has now come before the Supreme Court, with arguments taking place Tuesday.

The court case poses the question of whether Bowman's actions violated the patent rights held by Monsanto, which developed soybean and other seeds that survive when farmers spray their fields with the company's Roundup brand weed-killer. The seeds dominate American agriculture, including in Indiana, where more than 90 percent of soybeans are 'Roundup Ready.'"

Mark Sherman reports for the Associated Press February 19, 2013.


"Nearly Half of All US Farms Now Have Superweeds" (Mother Jones)

"Farmer's Fight With Monsanto Reaches The Supreme Court" (NPR)

"Supreme Court: How an Indiana Farmer's 'Cheap' Soybean Seeds Grew Into Showdown With Agribusiness Giant" (Greenwire)

"Farmer’s Supreme Court Challenge Puts Monsanto Patents at Risk" (New York Times)

"Is It a Crime to Plant a Seed?" (TIME)

Source: AP, 02/19/2013