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Monsanto Heads to Court to Defend GMOs and Seed Patents

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Photo by tonrulkens on Flickr
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Today, the case of Bowman vs. Monsanto Co. will be brought to the Supreme Court, deciding who is right when it comes to seed patent law.

Monsanto is claiming that they have exclusive rights over products that by their very nature self-replicate. The corporation is suing 75-year old farmer Vernon Hugh Bowman, claiming that his soybean crops, which were produced via the age-old tradition of seed saving, are a patent infringement. (You might remember a similar case being mentioned in the film Food Inc., which you can watch here.)

The process of seed exchange, saving and breeding has been a part of farm culture since its inception. But the corporation wants to change that, and is heading to the Supreme Court today to do so.

The LA Times brings the issue to light in an Op-Ed published today, begging the question: Should anyone, or any corporation, control a product of life?

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The Op-Ed further illustrates the issue, saying:

Monsanto and other agrochemical companies assert that they need the current patent system to invent better seeds, the counterargument is that splicing an already existing gene or other DNA into a plant and thereby transferring a new trait to that plant is not a novel invention. A soybean, for example, has more than 46,000 genes. Properties of these genes are the product of centuries of plant breeding and should not, many argue, become the product of a corporation. Instead, these genes should remain in the public domain.

The innovation they're referring to includes their controversial Round-Up ready soybean seeds, which have resulted in genetic mutations of weeds called "super weeds." In order to combat these monsters, Monsanto is contemplating introduction of a similar ingredient to Agent Orange into their GMO seeds.

It remains to be seen who will win the case, but one thing is for sure: We aren't going to be having a latte with soy milk this morning.