This past Monday, I read the news that the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of Monsanto against soybean farmer Vernon Bowman of Indiana (7-0). Much to the chagrin of organic farming enthusiasts and the anti-GMO movement, the Supreme Court was right. I’ve read both sides and from what I understand the farmer devised a way to basically steal the patented seeds. He was clever but it violated patent law and Justice Kagan was right when she said, “Blaming the bean” was unworthy.
But the patent law and this case are far removed from the broader ethical issue of Monsanto owning genetic material that can be transported via nature – bees, butterflies, bats and even wind. The Monsanto v. Bowman case is the tip of the ethical iceberg that is poised to sink the family farm – non-GMO – organic boat, in a sea with corporate U-boats taking control of seeds, agriculture, and life itself. The Supreme Court has made the “death star” of corporate greed fully operational.
I don’t believe the patent law established in the Constitution in 1787 was intended to have purview over wind pollinated, genetically engineered sperm cells (pollen) or anything to do with the forces of nature carrying your patented product onto other farms. Our founding fathers didn’t know what a chromosome was let alone modifying or owning them.
Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution of the United States:
“The Congress shall have Power … 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.”
For the “constitution strictest” the Supreme Court was right in the Bowman vs. Monsanto case.
There’s another case climbing the ladder to the Supreme Court that deals with pollination pollution. It’s a class action lawsuit against Monsanto brought on by the Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association (OSGATA). They have been defeated in lower courts but continue to appeal.
They want protection to grow their own crops without their plant ovaries being raped by the wind-born genetically modified pollen of multinational corporations. They should be “sceered” (scared) since it is very difficult to control wind-blown pollination thus Monsanto sues for thievery and wins.
Sixty percent of the calories consumed in the world by humans come from corn, wheat, and rice. All three crops are annual grasses that reproduce via wind pollination. All three crops have patented “roundup ready” seeds.
It’s another tip of that ethical iceberg about to sink the family-farm boat.
Maybe the patent laws or their interpretation need to be amended. We need to differentiate between the pursuit of happiness by people and the pursuit of money by corporations. We need incentives for corporations to put mankind and the stewardship of natural capital on the same deck with profit. Only then will the flotilla of tiny family farm ships be able to make a decent living without fear of hitting the hull crushing iceberg of corporate greed.