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Because there was no agriculture or horticulture or cultivation before the patent system

John Roberts* during oral arguments in Bowman v. Monsanto:

Chief Justice Roberts: Why in the world would anybody spend any money to try to improve the seed if as soon as they sold the first one anybody could grow more and have as many of those seeds as they want?

And there you have it.

What we're up against. It's all about the rents, baby!

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TytoAlba's picture
Submitted by TytoAlba on

I was afraid that would happen. It might have gone better if the plaintiff had been an organic farmer that hadn't bought Monsanto seeds first, and then tried to buy a questionable mix from someone that may or may not have been Monsanto seeds. Still, I feel for the guy.

Submitted by Lex on

This was such a terrible case to bring against Monsanto that it would be easy to weave a conspiracy theory that Bowman is a plant. (yuck, yuck, yuck)

Nonetheless, if Bowman's attorney is worth even pro bono rates, he'll strenuously challenge the assertion by Monsanto's council that: "And soybeans, in any event, are -- you know, have perfect flowers; that is, they contain both the pollen and the stamen, so that they -- which is the reason that they breed free and true, unlike, for example, corn."

First page of Google search results, which i assume our Supreme Court Justices will be too dense to look at, for "soya pollination" brings up two studies indicating pollinator participation. Even eHow makes mention of using bees to increase yield and promote cross-pollination. Yes, Glycine max is self-fertile but so are, for example, tomatoes. Being self-fertile does not stop bees from transferring tomato pollen between flowers, plants, or even fields. Monsanto's claim that pollen drift is impossible in Soya is preposterous on its face.

Of course the problem with the case is that Bowman isn't arguing that his field was contaminated by pollen drift of patent protected genetics but that the patent isn't valid after the first generation. It's still a valid argument against Monsanto's bullying of farmers saving seed, but it's unlikely to win jack shit in terms of patent law. If this were a case of pollen drift, Bowman would have a great argument for the Constitutional SCOTUS justices: violation of property rights. Instead, Bowman's just arguing against patent protection because he chose to plant seeds that weren't his own and, by statistical probability, contained Monsanto owned genes.

What a god damned shame that for all the farmers browbeaten by Monsanto because patented genes showed up in their fields without ever having planted a Monsanto seed (or a random mix from an elevator), the case that makes it to the SCOTUS is one that's so much more clear cut in favor of Monsanto. Still, i do wonder if Bowman's lawyer will argue that Bowman didn't knowingly plant patent protected seeds and that pollen drift via bees could account for the markers. Or at least challenge some of the out-and-out lies presented in the linked transcripts.