Seed Saving and Legal Activities

In agriculture plants and seeds with enhanced traits or genetics may be patent protected. This is true in the U.S. for plant varieties as well as biotech innovations.  Monsanto is one of many seed companies that patent their innovations.  Growers who purchase our patented seeds sign a Monsanto Technology/Stewardship Agreement — an agreement that specifically addresses the obligations of both the grower and Monsanto and governs the use of the harvested crop.  The agreement specifically states that the grower will not save or sell the seeds from their harvest for further planting, breeding or cultivation.

Food. Inc, addresses several cases in which there were violations or suspected violations of this contract or our patent. Unfortunately, the film neglects to tell the full story of these cases. Below is more detail which we believe portrays these situations more fully and in proper perspective.

Farmer Troy Roush

Farmer Troy Roush appeared in Food, Inc. concerning his dealings with Monsanto relative to a legal case centered on patent infringement. In addition, he suggested that GMOs are not healthy and stated that patented plants have “torn apart rural communities”.

Unfortunately, Monsanto cannot speak on the case involving Troy Roush. Monsanto and the Roushes concluded their litigation in 2002 with a confidential settlement agreement. Both parties mutually agreed as part of the settlement that they would not disclose the terms of the settlement or discuss the litigation. Learn more about Troy Roush.

Mr. Roush has made comments that fall outside of the scope of the lawsuit which we can address:

Mr. Roush said that the introduction of patented seeds have pitted farmer against farmer and torn apart rural communities. Patent infringement has been a contentious issue in some communities where it has occurred. We would suggest that it is not the patenting of seeds that has caused this, but the actions of those few who have chosen to ignore the law and their agreements to save seed illegally. Monsanto is frequently made aware of saved seed cases by other farmers who contact our customer service line with this information. They do so because they feel it is unfair that they are being put at a competitive disadvantage by their neighbors who do not follow the law and legal agreements as they do.

It is interesting to point out, that while Mr. Roush is a harsh and frequent critic of Monsanto and GM crops, he remains a customer of Monsanto having purchased a considerable amount of corn and soybean seed from us during 2008.

Farmer Dave Runyon

Monsanto had reason to believe Mr. Runyon was illegally saving Roundup Ready soybeans. We approached Mr. Runyon with our concerns, and he indicated he used only conventional soybeans. As a result of our interactions, Monsanto determined Mr. Runyon was someone who did not want to do business with Monsanto, so we properly ended our business relationship with him by suspending his authorization to purchase our technology.

We would be happy to reconsider our business relationship with Mr. Runyon if he works with us to address our concerns about the prior circumstances.

Moe Parr

Maurice Parr operates a seed cleaning business in Indiana. Mr. Parr had received many clear communications about the patent law around Monsanto’s patented Roundup Ready® soybeans, and he knowingly disregarded this information. Mr. Parr confused farmers about the law regarding patents, which led to some of his customers breaking their contracts by saving seed as well. Mr. Parr did not “settle with Monsanto.” Rather, Mr. Parr took his case to court, and the U.S. District Court in Lafayette, Indiana issued a permanent injunction against Mr. Parr prohibiting him from cleaning Roundup Ready soybeans.

The injunction also makes clear Mr. Parr can honor the patent by informing customers it is illegal to save Roundup Ready seed and requiring his customers certify their seed is not from a patented product and providing samples for testing. His business will be able to continue to clean conventional soybeans, wheat and other seed crops. Monsanto has agreed not to collect the damages awarded against Mr. Parr as long as Mr. Parr honors the terms of the court order.

View the injunction issued by the U.S. District Court in Lafayette, Indiana

Anonymous Farmer

A farmer gave an anonymous interview during the film in which he said he could not reveal his name or show his face due to a “gag order” that was part of the settlement. His face was shadowed and voice digitally augmented to protect him from repercussions of violating the alleged terms of settlement.

Monsanto will not discuss the specifics of seed patent infringement cases where a settlement agreement or court order so directs. It is NOT Monsanto’s practice, however, to require or even request confidentiality except around how settlement payments are structured. Confidentiality is a farmer concern. Formerly, we accommodated farmer requests for anonymity and agreed to confidentiality clauses. 

Due to the fact these accommodations have been portrayed as “gag orders” required by Monsanto, we no longer accommodate such requests except under exceptional circumstances.

 

Questions: Do you have additional questions about Monsanto’s position on Food, Inc.? Please contact us and we will do our best to respond in a timely manner.