The Free Press, Mankato, MN


June 18, 2013

Protect research by law

Why it matters In two separate rulings, the Supreme Court ensures that creativity and research are protected.


When farmers buy the modified seed — which are triple the cost of traditional seed — they sign a contract pledging not to keep any of the seeds they produce and use them in planting the following spring.

But Bowman thought he found a way around the ban. He purchased soybeans from the local elevator, knowing most would be herbicide resistant. He planted and sprayed them and waited to see which ones survived. He then kept some of the seeds from those plants and planted them the next year.

Monsanto eventually caught up with him and sued, winning an $85,000 judgment. Bomwan appealed.

The court correctly ruled that people don’t have the right to replicate a patented product and deny its inventor royalty payments.

Monsanto wasn’t patenting a naturally occurring thing, but a process they invented. Farmers have every right not to plant the modified seed. But if they do, they need to pay the inventor.

The ruling protects what the founding fathers’ knew was a key in fostering creativity and invention: “to promote the progress of science and useful arts by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.”

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