The Supreme Court of Canada sided with Monsanto on Friday in its claim that Saskatchewan farmer Percy Schmeiser illegally planted genetically modified Roundup Ready canola in his fields in 1997. The ruling will likely have ramifications for other crops as well, since it further supports Monsanto's position that it can claim ownership, receive payment for, and control the use of specific genes in crop plants.
Since the lawsuit was brought against him, Mr. Percy had been a firebrand for anti GMO organizations around the world. Percy claims he never had a relationship with Monsanto until the company's Roundup Ready gene contaminated a field he used for his own saved canola seed. He traveled as far away as India in seeking support for his cause, receiving the Mahatma Gandhi Award for his efforts against Monsanto in October 2000.
Farmers in North America, most of whom have willingly adopted and paid the tech fee for Monsanto's Roundup Ready seeds, have been somewhat less sympathetic to Percy. That sentiment now seems further supported with the Canadian court's 5-4 ruling in favor of Monsanto.
While Monsanto wins the case, the company will not be awarded monetary damages from Percy as part of the ruling. Each party (Monsanto and Schmeiser) will absorb their own legal costs. However, the ruling does set a strong precedent that could allow Monsanto and other companies with gene patents to receive damages from farmers in future cases related to genetic trait ownership.
The official ruling from the Canadian court may be viewed at: http://www.lexum.umontreal.ca/csc-scc/en/com/2004/html/04-05-21.3.wpd.html To read more about Percy's side of the story, visit: www.geocities.com/newageinternational/GMOMonsanto.html