01 October 1998
Monsanto sets lawyers on unlicensed GM grower
BIOTECHNOLOGY giant Monsanto is taking legal action against a Canadian farmer who, it claims, grew and sold genetically modified (GM) canola last year without a licence from the firm.
Monsanto also maintains that Percy Schmeiser, of Bruno, Saskatchewan, saved seed from his first crop and planted it this season.
In legal documents submitted to back its claim, Monsanto says Mr Schmeiser infringed its patent on the canola, which is modified to resist the herbicide glyphosate.
According to a report in Canadian farm journal The Western Producer, Monsanto wants all Mr Schmeisers profits from the crops, as well as punitive damages.
Under a technology use agreement, producers are supposed to grow just one crop with the GM seed they buy and not save seed for subsequent years.
Ray Mowling, vice-president of Monsanto, Canada, hoped the matter could be settled without going to court. He added that there had been cases where farmers had signed the agreement and then saved some seed, but those had been resolved without legal action.
The report added that, according to Tony Zatylny, vice-president for crop production at the Canola Council of Canada, if Mr Schmeisers case does reach court, and the judge rules in his favour, Monsanto would have great difficulty enforcing user agreements in future.