Last month, Monsanto won a U.S. Supreme Court case in which the court found that a farmer infringed upon Monsanto’s patent for Roundup Ready soybeans. In this case, the farmer planted mixed seeds sourced from a third party, then selected for the modified seed by applying Roundup to the seedlings, killing those without the patented gene. The court ruled that Monsanto lost the benefit of the patent when the farmer utilized their technology without purchasing their seed.
Last week, a farmer in Oregon discovered Monsanto Roundup Ready wheat growing on one of his fields. This genetically altered wheat had been tested by Monsanto from 1998 through 2005 but was never submitted for market approval. As a result of this discovery, several of the largest export markets for Northwest-grown soft white wheat have been closed.
If Monsanto can benefit in perpetuity from its self-replicating seed technology, the same standard should be applied to damage created by the uncontrolled release of their technology into the environment. Monsanto has negligently polluted the nation’s wheat crop with its genetically modified, experimental product, so it should pay farmers the full value of the lost exports.