GENET archive


4-Patents: U.S. rice farmers fined for saving seed

                                  PART I
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Rice farmers fined for saving seed
SOURCE: Capital Press, USA, by Scott A. Yates
DATE:   8 Jun 2005

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Clearfield crops are non-GE herbicide-tolerant crops, HM/GENET
thanks to Devlin Kuyek from GRAIN who sent me these articles

Rice farmers fined for saving seed
Clearfield maker shows it's serious about prolonging technology

SPOKANE - Chad Shelton calls it a powerful story, but it's also a
cautionary one: 25 farmers fined $2.5 million for violating the patent on
Clearfield herbicide-tolerant technology.

The case involves farmers in Arkansas who saved rice seed illegally, but
Shelton, U.S. market development manager for BASF, said it shows how
serious the company is about prolonging the use of its technology across
all crops, including wheat.

"The Clearfield production system in rice really mirrors the one in wheat
and requires the use of certified seed when using the system. It doesn't
allow brown bagging or bin run seed," he said.

The Arkansas growers did just that, planting as much as 5,000 acres with
seed they had saved. A total of 200,000 acres of Clearfield rice was
planted in the state out of a total 1.5 million acres of rice.

Shelton said the wrongdoing was reported to BASF by people who heard about it.

Rice growers have to sign an agreement on an annual basis similar to the
one wheat growers sign.

"This really emphasizes BASF's sincerity in prolonging the use of the
technology," Shelton said.

In rice, the Clearfield system is used to control red rice infestations.
Similar to white rice, the red rice loses its seeds and lodges. By using
bin run seed, farmers increase the likelihood of cross-pollinating with
red rice, reducing the effectiveness of the herbicide-tolerance.

A similar cross-pollination is possible in the Northwest, but with
jointed goatgrass. BASF is attempting to delay what many believe is the
inevitable by limiting how frequently growers can use the technology.

Nearly 300,000 acres of the herbicide-tolerant winter wheat will be
harvested this summer in Washington, Idaho and Oregon. Most of the
acreage, up to 200,000 acres worth, is planted to ORCF 101, a line with
Madsen/Malcolm/Stephens parentage developed at Oregon State University.
Other varieties include IDO 587, Clearfirst and Mel.

Unlike Roundup Ready crops, which were genetically modified, Clearfield
technology was developed through mutagenesis. That involves subjecting
seed to chemicals that mutate its genetic code.

In Clearfield's case, the mutation sliced away a portion of the gene
herbicide ordinarily latches onto. As a result, the wheat survives the
chemical that kills the weeds.

                                  PART II
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  BASF Resolves Case Against Arkansas Rice Growers Who Violated
        CLEARFIELD Rice Stewardship Agreement
SOURCE: BASF, USA, Press Release
DATE:   16 May 2005

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BASF Resolves Case Against Arkansas Rice Growers Who Violated CLEARFIELD
Rice Stewardship Agreement

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. (May 16, 2005) - BASF has resolved a lawsuit
it brought against a number of rice farmers in northeastern Arkansas who
violated the company's CLEARFIELD* rice stewardship agreement and
technology by planting saved seed or otherwise dealing improperly with
CLEARFIELD rice seed.

The Consent Judgment entered by the federal court awards BASF damages of
$2.5 million and enjoins certain conduct of the defendants in the future.

This resolution will help keep this innovative technology effective in
coming seasons, according to Bruce Cranfill, CLEARFIELD rice market manager.

"As a result of the judgment and its provisions, we are confident that
none of the crop resulting from the use of the saved seed will enter the
seed channel," he said. Concluding the lawsuit in this fashion is a clear
victory for the vast majority of farmers who follow the stewardship
agreement, Cranfill said.

"This legal action was necessary to preserve the integrity of the
CLEARFIELD* Production System for rice for the overwhelming majority of
farmers who have appropriately - and legally - used the technology," he
emphasized. "Our position has been explained to growers and is clearly
spelled out in the stewardship agreement."

 CLEARFIELD rice is a unique production system with three elements:
herbicide-tolerant seed varieties or hybrids; herbicides to manage
previously uncontrolled weeds; and stewardship agreements. Without proper
stewardship, CLEARFIELD rice could potentially outcross with red rice,
posing a significant long-term threat to growers of CLEARFIELD - now and
in the future - who derive the benefits of this technology.

Last fall, BASF filed a complaint in U.S. District Court for the Eastern
District of Arkansas claiming that several growers, who farm in and
around Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, infringed patents on the technology and
violated the stewardship agreement. BASF amended the complaint to name
other growers and entities associated with the original grower defendants.

As part of the Consent Judgment, the growers who signed CLEARFIELD
Stewardship Grower Agreements admitted they understood and agreed to
terms of the agreement but violated it by planting saved seed.

The Consent Judgment provides also that: - BASF has been awarded damages
against Defendants in the amount of $2.5M - Defendants acknowledge
infringing the patent rights of BASF - Defendants must sell as grain all
rice seed produced or retained contrary to the CLEARFIELD* rice
stewardship agreements in order to ensure that the saved seed does not
get into the seed channel. - BASF will have the right to inspect the
defendants' premises over the next three years; and -Defendants will
implement key stewardship practices to maintain the continued viability
of the CLEARFIELD technology.

The settlement of the case underscores the commitment by BASF to defend
its CLEARFIELD technology, which ultimately will benefit the entire rice

"The decision to take legal action in this matter was not made lightly,
and it was made with conviction," Cranfill said. "Our commitment to
protecting the technology for the entire rice industry is unwavering."

The vision of BASF's Agricultural Products division is to be the world's
leading innovator, optimizing agricultural production, improving
nutrition, and thus enhancing the quality of life for a growing world
population. Further information can be found on the web at

                                  PART III
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Lawsuit alleges Clearfield rice seed piracy
SOURCE: Delta Farm Press, USA, by David Bennett
DATE:   16 Sep 2004

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Lawsuit alleges Clearfield rice seed piracy
Lawsuit seeks damages as well as a permanent injunction.

JONESBORO, Ark. -- Contending Clearfield rice -- a crop tolerant of
Newpath herbicide -- is being grown illegally, BASF has filed a lawsuit
against several northeast Arkansas farmers. The company claims the
farmers around Walnut Ridge, Pocahontas and Bono, Ark., saved (brown-
bagged) Clearfield seed from the 2003 harvest to plant this season.

Also named as defendants are "John Does 1-25" representing anyone
contributing, facilitating or enabling the named defendants to infringe
on the BASF patent.

The Dutch-based company filed the complaint Sept. 3 in the U.S. District
Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas in Jonesboro, claiming the
farmers infringed patented technology and violated the company's
Clearfield rice stewardship agreement. The lawsuit seeks damages as well
as a permanent injunction.

"The first issue we're concerned with is out-crossing and the issues that
arise with it," says Randy Ouzts, general manager of Horizon Ag, LLC --
the company that manages Clearfield rice seed varieties. "This is very
different from folks saving Roundup Ready seed illegally, which is bad
enough. With Clearfield rice, we can't tolerate any out- crossing in our
seed stocks."

Ouzts says both Horizon and BASF have been adamant with growers from the
technology's outset. "First, you can't save seed because it's patented.
More importantly, you can't save it because you can't guarantee the saved
seed will be red rice-free and have the proper tolerance associated with
the imidazolinone chemistry used on it."

Ouzts says investigators have been looking at illegally planted
Clearfield since April. While suspecting some farmers were planting the
seed, no one realized the magnitude of the acreage involved.
Investigators are trying to determine the exact acreage of illegal
Clearfield rice.

"This is probably one of the largest events of piracies in the history of
the industry," says Ouzts. "We believe this involves several thousand
acres of pirated seed -- perhaps as much as 5,000 (acres)."

Alleging breach of contract, the companies on Sept. 9 gained an
injunction to prevent the destruction of evidence related to the case.
According to the injunction, among other things, the accused agreed to
allow their harvests to be monitored, for their records to be opened, and
to cooperate "fully and completely" with company investigators. They
further agreed to "provide direction to each field on which rice was
planted, including any fields already harvested as well as any grain
bins, storage trucks, bags or other storage facilities."

The pirated crop can be sold only for milling "or other non-seed or non-
reproductive purposes."

As a result of this action, according to a Bruce Cranfill, BASF marketing
manager for Clearfield rice, the company "anticipates that none of the
harvested crop grown from saved seed will enter the seed channel."

Ouzts says he's unsure if investigators will be riding combines, but does
promise continued and increased vigilance regarding Clearfield. While
this case focuses on Arkansas, investigators have made forays into other
Delta states. Anyone who thinks this is the end of investigations and
subsequent lawsuits is mistaken, he says.

"These aren't the only people who will be caught. We're going to find
others and they'll be treated the same."

About 200,000 acres of Clearfield rice (14 percent of the state's total
rice acreage) were planted in Arkansas. With more than 1.5 million acres
of rice, Arkansas is responsible for about half of the nation's total

The Nolan Henry law firm, with offices in Stuttgart and Fayetteville,
Ark., represents BASF in the case.


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