Beware, Saving Seeds May Shortly Hold Upwardly Outlawed

If yous are a farmer, beware. Your correct to salve seed in addition to replant it the side yesteryear side yr volition shortly live taken away. It has happened inwards the United States, which officially does non bar farmers from saving seed, but unofficially does aught to safegyuard Farmer’s Right over his seed. In fact, inwards the days to come upward the US is going to witness a essay instance that will, if it goes the manufacture way, take away farmer’s correct to salve seed yesteryear indirectly penalising him for non paying the ‘technology fee’ or royalty.

The lawsuit that is coming upward for amount trial at St. Louis, which also happens to live Monsanto’s headquarters, on Aug 10, 2009, volition receive got a bearing non alone on the American farmers but farmers elsewhere, including India. So far, Indian seed laws receive got allowed farmers to save, sell in addition to central seed unless it is branded, this correct volition sooner or later be taken away. The Seed Bill 2004, which is all the same pending earlier Parliament, inwards a means is a footstep forward. The seed manufacture is non taking it lying down. There is tremendous pressure level to disband the Plant Varieties Protection in addition to Farmers Rights Authority (PVPFRA) or become far useless. 

At the same time, the recent amendments to the patents police line allows for biotech patents, which makes the PVPFRA redundant. I receive got ever been maxim that policy makers in addition to civil guild activists inwards Republic of Republic of India must larn to aspect ahead spell formulating laws. Let me illustrate. Republic of Republic of India is i of the places of origins of rice. We receive got thousands of rice strains, despite the erosion of genetic variety witnessed peculiarly over the yesteryear few decades. We tin listing these varieties nether the PVPFRA and experience that our rice is ‘protected’. But amongst Syngenta seeking patents over 30,000 genes of rice (from a amount of 37,500 genes rice has), the command over rice flora goes into the hands of th Swiss seed company.

What is the utilisation of ‘protecting’ rice varieties nether PVPFRA? Shouldn’t our lawmakers looked ahead, in addition to prepared the law/Act inwards the lite of the developments taking house inwards genomic interrogation in addition to the changing IPR regime?

Anyway, nosotros volition utter well-nigh this inwards subsequent blogs. Let us first endeavor to sympathise what is at stake inwards the lawsuit that is coming upward for amount trial in America. This commentary (excerpts of which are beingness published here) has been provided yesteryear James M. Harrington, founder of Harrington Practice, a patent litigation police line line of piece of occupation solid based inwards Charlotte, North Carolina, USA.

Mon May 25, 2009 at 09:14:33 PM PDT

Near the sleepy North Carolina town of Harmony, a mile or 2 off I-77 well-nigh an hour’s drive northward of Charlotte, Robert Trivette farms well-nigh 200 acres of soybeans. Small yesteryear modern standards, this farm has been his for but about iv decades, in addition to it has provided him in addition to his wife, Jennifer, amongst plenty to alive on, to heighten a theater unit of measurement in addition to to last but non to thrive.

Bob is at an age, 60, when most men are kickoff to dream of retirement. Like most farmers, he worries well-nigh drought, well-nigh the pernicious pigweed that threatens the soy crop, well-nigh pests, in addition to well-nigh whether his ancient tractor in addition to combine volition become far through but about other season. But these days, Bob is worried well-nigh an enemy of an altogether unlike character. After all, he’s the accused inwards a major lawsuit over his farming practices–a lawsuit that threatens his means of life.

In that suit, our police line line of piece of occupation solid is defending Bob Trivette pro bono publico–“for the populace good,” important costless of charge–and nosotros ask your fiscal help. This is the foremost inwards a serial of diaries that volition innovate the populace to Bob Trivette, a human being who is fighting for all of us.

Regular readers of this (HarringtonPractice’s diary) in addition to other liberal websites know Bob Trivette’s enemy all likewise well. He’s fighting against the Monsanto Company. And Monsanto is spending all that it tin to destroy Bob, inwards monastic tell to build an illustration of him, in addition to ultimately inwards the pursuit of ever-expanding hegemony over the world’s nutrient supply.

About x years ago, Robert Trivette decided to upgrade a constituent of his soybean crop, well-nigh xx acres’ worth, to the latest affair inwards farming: Monsanto’s exciting novel Roundup Ready® soybean technology. Monsanto promised a revolution inwards farming. Rather than fighting weeds amongst specific, oft toxic in addition to highly regulated herbicides, Monsanto’s genetically engineered seeds grew into plants that would resist Monsanto’s broad-spectrum herbicide, glyphosate, which it sold nether the advert Roundup.

Spraying his crops amongst Roundup would kill the weeds in addition to acquire out the salubrious soybean plants behind. Although Roundup Ready seed was to a greater extent than expensive than conventional seed, Monsanto promised greater yields, less chemic expense, in addition to an easier fourth dimension inwards the fields. But these advances, to the extent that they came well-nigh at all, came at a heavy price.

Monsanto’s innovations weren’t express to the laboratory, of course. Along amongst Roundup Ready technology, Monsanto instituted a unique novel scheme for selling crop seeds. Instead of saving a small-scale constituent of i year’s crop for replanting side yesteryear side year, every bit they had done for thousands of years, farmers would live required to purchase novel master copy seed stock from Monsanto each year.

In monastic tell to enforce this requirement, Monsanto required each farmer to sign a “technology agreement,” which prohibits the farmer from using the seeds he bought for to a greater extent than than a unmarried crop, from saving whatsoever of that crop for replanting the side yesteryear side year, in addition to from selling the master copy seeds or the crop to whatsoever other farmer. The farmer is required to submit to the jurisdiction of Monsanto’s habitation courts inwards St. Louis for whatsoever disputes. Some afterwards agreements receive got required the farmer to allow Monsanto’s investigators to come upward on his holding in addition to essay his crops at whatsoever time.

If the farmer violated the agreement, he would receive got to pay a huge penalty–in but about cases upward to xx times the toll of a purse of soybeans for each purse he saved. Although the courts receive got struck that penalization down, they regularly impose penalties of to a greater extent than than $100 per purse for a commodity that normally costs $30-$35 per bag. Monsanto’s licensing authorities requires the cooperation of farmers. Since non every farm tin live inspected,

Monsanto coerces that cooperation yesteryear coming downwards difficult on those farmers it believes skirt its rules. It maintains a hotline for anonymous reporting of violators. It sends out teams of investigators, who surreptitiously surveil farmers inwards their daily work, correlating sales records in addition to farm sizes, showing upward unannounced in addition to threatening fines in addition to criminal charges against their targets. They demand an extortive payment from every farmer they “catch,” promising that consulting amongst a lawyer or challenging Monsanto’s authorisation volition lawsuit inwards much greater hurting in addition to suffering.

In that respect, Monsanto is piddling meliorate than a criminal gang–better alone because Monsanto, at least, has the authorisation nether federal police line to enforce its patent rights…but the Corleones in addition to the Sopranos never had the assistance of the federal courts, either. In reality, Monsanto cares real piddling well-nigh the truth inwards pursuit of its aims.

In 2006, Monsanto’s investigators approached Bob Trivette at his farm. For well-nigh an hour, they quizzed him well-nigh his farming practices in addition to his utilisation of Roundup Ready. They decided he was guilty of patent infringement, in addition to they offered him a choice: pay them $100 for every purse of seed they idea he saved, or Monsanto volition sue him in addition to become far 5 times worse. Oh, in addition to if he contacted a lawyer, the bargain was off.

For Bob, based on the investigators’ “calculations,” that toll would receive got been well-nigh 2 years’ worth of his farming income. He couldn’t pay it. So when Monsanto sued him inwards early on 2007, he turned to our police line line of piece of occupation solid for help.

For the final 2 years, our police line line of piece of occupation solid has been fighting Monsanto on Bob Trivette’s behalf, in addition to nosotros receive got done so, to date, without charging him i penny for our services. Our line of piece of occupation solid is small–only iii attorneys in addition to i back upward staff member–and taking on a patent infringement case, but about of the most complicated litigation around, for no coin at all, was a serious commitment of a major constituent of our firm’s resources.

We took on his instance because of our sympathy for him every bit an individual, but nosotros are fighting today non but for Bob, but for all farmers, in addition to yesteryear extension, for all of us. As a patent attorney, I believe that the express monopolies granted yesteryear patents foster conception yesteryear rewarding it financially. But Monsanto’s tactics receive got strayed far from the kinds of healthy, competitive practices our economic scheme needs, into territory previously reserved for mobsters in addition to racketeers.

We caput to a amount trial inwards St. Louis on August 10, 2009, in addition to your aid is urgently needed to build victory possible. Although nosotros volition accept no professional person fees for whatsoever role of our representation of Bob Trivette, nosotros ask to pay the out-of-pocket expenses of our trial squad for the 2 weeks the trial is expected to take.

For to a greater extent than background on Monsanto’s line of piece of occupation concern practices, nosotros recommend reading Don Barlett in addition to James Steele’s fantabulous article inwards Vanity Fair’s May 2008 issue, “Monsanto’s Harvest of Fear.”