In Bowman v. Monsanto Co., Vernon Hugh Bowman, a 75-year-old Indiana soybean farmer is being sued by Monsanto, which seeks to determine once and for all who has the right to control seeds planted in the ground. Monsanto, or the farmer?
The leading producer of genetically engineered seed and the herbicide, Roundup, will have its day in court starting on February 19th.
Bowman, who has farmed the same stretch of land for most of the past four decades and grew up on a farm, ended up on Monsanto’s radar for using such seeds – bought from a local grain elevator, rather than Monsanto – for year after year and replanting part of each crop. He did not do so for his main crop of soybeans, but rather for a smaller “second late season planting” usually planted on a field that had just been harvested for wheat. “We have always had the right to go to an elevator, buy some ‘junk grain’ and use it for seed if you desire,” Bowman said.
To put it mildly, Monsanto disagrees. The firm insists that it maintains patent rights on its genetically modified seeds even if sold by a third party with no restrictions put on its use – even if the seeds are actually only descendants of the original Monsanto seeds. To that end it sued Bowman, eventually winning a legal settlement of some $84,456 (£53,500) against him for infringing the firm’s patent rights. Monsanto says that if it allowed Bowman to keep replanting his seeds it would undermine its business model, endangering the expensive research that it uses to produce advanced agricultural products.
Generally, in these situations, Monsanto has forced farmers into settlements because fighting Multinational corporations is expensive and they know it. One of the perks that comes with global domination. But Abe Bowman was already bankrupt from an unrelated land deal at the time Monsanto sued him, so Abe Bowman’s attitude has been: “I made up my mind to fight it until I could not fight it anymore. I thought: I am not going to play dead.”
Good luck, Abe Bowman. They weren’t expecting you to make it this far, physically or financially, so maybe you’ll win this one for the little guy! or every farmer in history that has ever been threatened by Monsanto in a world where three corporations, including Monsanto– control more than 50% of the global seed market.