Friday, August 3, 2007

Monsanto Spanked Again

The U.S. Patents and Trademarks office has rejected four of Monsanto's patents for genetically engineered crops on grounds the ag giant is using the pantents to bash small farmers.

The Public Patent Foundation, which had challenged the Monsanto patent claims, issued a press release announcing the patents office action. Until today, we didn't know there was such a thing as the Public Patent Foundation, or that it had taken up arms against Monsanto and its efforts to corner the market on the world's seeds. But we are glad they did. Here's a portion of their press release:

The Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) announced today that the United States Patent and Trademark Office has rejected four key Monsanto patents related to genetically modified crops that PUBPAT challenged last year because the agricultural giant is using them to harass, intimidate, sue - and in some cases literally bankrupt - American farmers. In its Office Actions rejecting each of the patents, the USPTO held that evidence submitted by PUBPAT, in addition to other prior art located by the Patent Office's Examiners, showed that Monsanto was not entitled to any of the patents.

Monsanto has filed dozens of patent infringement lawsuits asserting the four challenged patents against American farmers, many of whom are unable to hire adequate representation to defend themselves in court. The crime these farmers are accused of is nothing more than saving seed from one year's crop to replant the following year, something farmers have done since the beginning of time.

One study of the matter found that, "Monsanto has used heavy-handed investigations and ruthless prosecutions that have fundamentally changed the way many American farmers farm. The result has been nothing less than an assault on the foundations of farming practices and traditions that have endured for centuries in this country and millennia around the world, including one of the oldest, the right to save and replant crop seed." The lawsuits filed by Monsanto against American farmers include Monsanto Company v. Mitchell Scruggs, et al, 459 F.3d 1328 (Fed. Cir. 2006), Monsanto Company v. Kem Ralph individually, et al, 382 F.3d 1374 (Fed. Cir. 2004) and Monsanto Company v. Homan McFarling, 363 F.3d 1336 (Fed. Cir. 2004).

Under our links to "Bad Things in Food," we have now added the website of Percy Schmeiser, a Candian farmer who has made legal cause with Monsanto.

For a complete copy of the Patent Foundation press release, go here.

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