News & AnalysisIntellectual Property

Supreme Court to Review the Scope of Monsanto's Seed Patents

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Science  08 Feb 2013:
Vol. 339, Issue 6120, pp. 639
DOI: 10.1126/science.339.6120.639

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Vernon Hugh Bowman, a 75-year-old farmer from Indiana, is heading to the U.S. Supreme Court this month to challenge the agribusiness giant Monsanto over its "Roundup Ready" soybeans, one of the biggest selling products of agricultural biotechnology. The fight centers on the company's patented genes, which enable plants to grow even after being treated with the widely used weed killer Roundup (glyphosate). The key issue is where DNA patents end: Do they apply to the seeds' entire progeny, or just to seeds sold under license? Bowman argues that patents don't apply to unlabeled seeds he got from a grain elevator. Monsanto says they do.