Seed dispute could have local implications
The dispute now before the U.S. Supreme court over a farmer’s right to get his own seeds is being closely watched here and could have serious ramifications depending on how the court rules.
An Indiana soybean farmer has been sued by the giant Monsanto company because he has found a way to get his own soybean seeds that are resistant to Monsanto’s weed killer, Roundup, without having to purchase those seeds from Monsanto, which developed those seeds. The company has a policy that prohibits farmers from reusing the seeds once the crop is grown.
A federal court has already ruled in favor of the company, awarding it $84,456 in damages
Opponents of the company argue the action has resulted in a shortage of seeds and higher costs for growers.
The company claims it has rights to the seeds and that farmers like Bowman have no license to use Monsanto’s technology without purchasing the seeds from Monsanto.
At issue is all genetically-engineered seeds or plants. If a company is not going to get the return, then it may no longer work to develop seeds or trees that are resistant to certain herbicides or to diseases. Roundup-resistant row crops have saved farmers billions of dollars in not having to treat such fields and has resulted in higher yields.
The case could also impact future advances. Even the Obama administration has sided with Monsanto, knowing that advancements in seeds and other tools used in growing the nation’s food need to continue and should they stop, so could improvements in farming. Local ag officials will tell you that those advances continue to make farmers more efficient and help to hold down the cost of farm commodities.
The future of genetically altered crops may be at stake, as well as future advancements in farming. The court needs to allow Monsanto to control its seeds.