13 July 1999
Monsanto sues farmer over GM seed

THE biotechnology giant Monsanto is involved in a battle in the US courts to protect its patent rights for genetically-modified (GM) seed.

Monsanto claims that farmer Percy Schmeiser has used the companys seed without a licence.

The case could have important ramifications for the GM seed developments in the US because Mr Schmeiser is one of 600 farmers accused of infringing Monsantos licensing agreement.

Monsantos “Technology Use Agreement” requires farmers pay a fee based on the acreage they have planted and producers are not allowed to save seed in order to plant the next years crop.

The agreement also gives Monsanto the right to audit farmers fields, or take samples, for three years after the seeds are bought.

Most of the 600 farmers purchased Monsantos seeds and signed the agreement, but Schmeisers case is different because he never bought Monsantos seeds.

He claims the Monsanto varieties of seed which germinated on his farm were carried their on the wind.

  • Financial Times 13/07/99 page 22 (Comment and Analysis)