The justices said Friday they will consider the planting tactics of Indiana farmer Vernon Bowman, who appealed to the high court after Monsanto successfully sued him for infringing the company’s patents on Roundup Ready seeds, which produce crops resistant to weed-killer.
The question at issue: Just how far do Monsanto’s patent rights extend? The company requires growers to use the seeds only for a single crop, and they can’t save the “second-generation” seeds from the harvest. Monsanto imposes the conditions because its technology reproduces itself in each generation of seeds. If farmers could replant seeds taken from each harvest, they could avoid paying for Monsanto’s biotechnology in future plantings, it says.