13 November 1998
Monsanto lawyers chase GM seed ‘pirates’

By Jonathan Riley

US-BASED chemical giant Monsanto is “vigorously pursuing” 475 cases where farmers are suspected of saving genetically modified (GM) seed for future planting.

The company is attempting to fine those who contravene the contracts growers sign which prevent them home-saving seed for future use.

It has hired full-time investigators to follow up a further 1800 tip-offs of what it calls “seed piracy” and royalty infringements.

Monsantos action to date include a $35,000 (£21,000) fine of a St Louis farmer who admitted replanting and trading GM seeds.

As part of his punishment, farmer David Chaney will have to destroy his current soyabean crop and submit all farm records to Monsanto for five years.

Mr Chaney and the growers he traded with will also have to allow Monsanto full access to all their land and property for the next five years.

Other awards in favour of the company include a number of fines and royalty payments of between $10,000 (£6000) and $25,000 (£15,000).

Monsantos intellectual property protection manager Scott Baucum said that when farmers contravened contracts it acted as a disincentive for further investment in new technology by the chemical companies.

That, he added, meant that the pirates actions caused everyone to lose out.