Source Newsroom: Cornell University
William H. Lesser, an expert on intellectual property and patents for plants, seed and animals, and professor of science and business at Cornell University’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, discusses the implications of today’s oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court about the case of Monsanto versus Indiana soybean farmer Vernon Bowman. The case hinges on the extent of control that the developer of genetically modified seed can exert through multiple generations of seed.
“A decision against Monsanto will have a significant chilling effect on private investment in ag-biotechnology. Because soybean seed reproduces true to type, if seed is saved and replanted, Monsanto would be in losing competition with farmer-saved seed after one or two seasons. Private investment will largely come to a halt.
“One can predict with confidence that the implication for the Monsanto case is similar to an issue which was dealt with in 1930. Prior to that time, it was legal to regenerate and sell asexually propagated plants — roses, tulips, fruit trees — and since they are identical clones, there was little opportunity for breeders to recover their costs. The Plant Patent Act of 1930, the first law worldwide to provide patent protection for plants, was passed to provide breeders the same rights and opportunities as the inventors of mechanical inventions.”