Supreme Court Upholds Monsato Genetically Modified Soybeans’ Patent

The Supreme Court ruled that farmers must pay Monsanto every time they plant the company’s genetically modified soybeans. Indiana farmer Vernon Hugh Bowman argued he was not violating the patent because the soybeans self-replicate. The justices felt "Bowman’s practices threatened the incentive for invention that is at the heart of patent law." Bowman was ordered to pay $85,000 to Monsato. This case could have broader implication on patent protections for vaccines and other products that self-replicate. The Washington Post reports:

If someone is able to copy a patented product simply by planting it and collecting its progeny, “a patent would plummet in value after the first sale of the first item containing the invention,” Justice Elena Kagan wrote. “And that would result in less incentive for innovation than Congress wanted.”

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Owning the Future

Vernon Bowman speaks outside the Supreme Court following arguments against Monsanto.

"It's time to declare our opposition to this private theft of public culture."

Danny Duncan Collum, a Sojourners contributing writer, teaches writing at Kentucky State University in Frankfort, Kentucky. His novel White Boy was recently published by Apprentice House.