If GM corn inadvertently blows into a neighbor’s field, will Monsanto sue?
In February 2012, a federal court dismissed such accusations as unfounded and a transparent attempt to create a controversy where none actually exists, pointing to Monsanto’s policy of not suing farmers in cases of inadvertent presence of gene flow. (See Beyond the Rows: OSGATA v. Monsanto: A Ruling for All Agriculture.)
It has never been, nor will it be, Monsanto policy to exercise its patent rights where trace amounts of patented seed or traits are present in farmer’s fields as a result of inadvertent means.
Enforcing patent law is not much different from the enforcement of other laws. The vast majority of farmers respect patent laws and honor their agreements to abide by that law. When one farmer sees another farmer saving patented seed, they will often report them. Many of the tips Monsanto gets about farmers saving patented seeds come from other farmers in the same community.
Since 1997, Monsanto has filed suit against farmers 145 times in the United States for intentional
infringement of Monsanto’s patents. When you consider that the company sells seed to more than 250,000 American farmers a year, it’s a tiny number.
When we have reason to believe seed is being saved illegally, we begin by gathering facts and if warranted meeting with the individuals involved. As a matter of routine, we make every effort to resolve these matters amicably.