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PATENTS & REGULATION: Law suit against U.S. farmers on alleged Monsanto patent infringement filed in error



                                  PART 1


------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   SEED VENDOR BACKTRACKS ON SUIT AGAINST FARMERS

SOURCE:  Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, USA

AUTHOR:  Brian Bowling

URL:     http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/breaking/s_746747.html

DATE:    15.07.2011

SUMMARY: "A federal lawsuit accusing two Erie County farmers of violating a seed technology agreement was filed in error, a representative for a St. Louis agricultural biotech company said on Thursday. Sara Miller, a spokeswoman for Monsanto, said the lawsuit filed in federal court in Pittsburgh was meant to collect money owed to Hubner Seeds ?for corn, soybean and wheat products that were purchased in 2009 and 2010.? ?The filing was submitted by a third-party vendor and mistakenly included a claim for patent infringement and named Monsanto as the plaintiff,? she said."

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SEED VENDOR BACKTRACKS ON SUIT AGAINST FARMERS

A federal lawsuit accusing two Erie County farmers of violating a seed technology agreement was filed in error, a representative for a St. Louis agricultural biotech company said on Thursday.

Sara Miller, a spokeswoman for Monsanto, said the lawsuit filed in federal court in Pittsburgh was meant to collect money owed to Hubner Seeds ?for corn, soybean and wheat products that were purchased in 2009 and 2010.?

?The filing was submitted by a third-party vendor and mistakenly included a claim for patent infringement and named Monsanto as the plaintiff,? she said.

As originally filed, the lawsuit claimed that Harold V. Wiser of Girard and Harold Steve Wiser Jr. of Fairview illegally saved seeds from crops grown using Monsanto?s Roundup Ready product and were using them this year to plant crops. The lawsuit also included a claim that the Wisers owed more than $160,000 for unpaid goods.

Miller said the filing would be amended to correct the errors, but as of 5 p.m. yesterday the original lawsuit was the only version on file. The Lehigh County attorney who filed the lawsuit, Demetrios H. Tsarouhis, couldn?t be reached for comment.

Harold V. Wiser couldn?t be reached for comment.

Al Lindsay, Steve Wiser?s lawyer, declined to comment other than to say that he?s meeting with his client to discuss whichever lawsuit has been filed against him.

?I must say, I find this peculiar,? he said.

Monsanto requires farmers to sign a contract agreeing not to glean seeds from crops grown with its genetically modified seeds. Instead, the farmers have to buy new seeds every year. The company said it files about a dozen lawsuits each year involving reuse of the seeds.

Miller said that isn?t an issue in this case.

Monsanto doesn?t sell a Roundup Ready version of its wheat seeds, but she wasn?t sure whether the wheat seeds the Wisers purchased include some agreement similar to the technology agreement on the corn or soybeans.



                                  PART 2

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   MONSANTO FILES SUIT AGAINST TWO ERIE AREA FARMERS OVER SEEDS

SOURCE:  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, USA

AUTHOR:  Rich Lord

URL:     http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11194/1160101-100.stm

DATE:    13.07.2011

SUMMARY: "Agrichemical giant Monsanto Co. today filed a federal lawsuit against two Erie-area farmers, accusing them of planting seed saved from plants grown from the company?s genetically engineered products. According to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh, farmers Harold Wiser, of Carlton, and Steve Wiser, of Girard, bought Monsanto?s wheat, soybean and corn seeds. The seeds are genetically engineered to be resistant to Monsanto?s pesticides, which ?will cause severe injury or death to varieties that do not contain the [pesticide-resistance] technology.?"

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MONSANTO FILES SUIT AGAINST TWO ERIE AREA FARMERS OVER SEEDS

Agrichemical giant Monsanto Co. today filed a federal lawsuit against two Erie-area farmers, accusing them of planting seed saved from plants grown from the company?s genetically engineered products.

According to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh, farmers Harold Wiser, of Carlton, and Steve Wiser, of Girard, bought Monsanto?s wheat, soybean and corn seeds. The seeds are genetically engineered to be resistant to Monsanto?s pesticides, which ?will cause severe injury or death to varieties that do not contain the [pesticide-resistance] technology.?

The farmers had signed an agreement in 2003 outlining how the seeds could be used. Not authorized: Saving seeds from plants grown from the Monsanto products, and planting them the next year.

That, though, is what the Wisers did in 2009 and 2010, Monsanto alleged in the lawsuit. That practice infringes on the company?s patent, the complaint contended.

Monsanto wants the Wisers to pay triple any damages they have caused the company. The company also claimed that the Wisers still owe it $166,944 for seeds bought in 2010.

Neither the Wisers, nor Monsanto?s attorney, could be reached for comment.



                                  PART 3

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   FARMERS SUED FOR SAVING MONSANTO WHEAT SEEDS

SOURCE:  Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

AUTHOR:  Brian Bowling

URL:     http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/breaking/s_746550.html

DATE:    14.07.2011

SUMMARY: "An Erie County wheat farmer has become the latest target of a St. Louis agricultural biotech giant?s ongoing effort to protect its patents. Monsanto Co. says in a federal lawsuit filed this week in Pittsburgh that Harold Steve Wiser Jr. of Fairview violated a licensing agreement by replanting seeds gleaned from crops grown from its patented Roundup Ready product. [...] The company claims that Wiser and another farmer, Harold V. Wiser of Girard, saved seeds from crops grown in 2009 and 2010 and planted them this year. The lawsuit does not state whether the Wisers are related."

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FARMERS SUED FOR SAVING MONSANTO WHEAT SEEDS

ERIE -- An Erie County wheat farmer has become the latest target of a St. Louis agricultural biotech giant?s ongoing effort to protect its patents.

Monsanto Co. says in a federal lawsuit filed this week in Pittsburgh that Harold Steve Wiser Jr. of Fairview violated a licensing agreement by replanting seeds gleaned from crops grown from its patented Roundup Ready product.

There was no phone number listed for Wiser, and no one answered the door at his Blair Road home on Wednesday.

The company claims that Wiser and another farmer, Harold V. Wiser of Girard, saved seeds from crops grown in 2009 and 2010 and planted them this year. The lawsuit does not state whether the Wisers are related.

Monsanto?s website says it has filed lawsuits across the nation 145 times since 1997 to stop farmers from saving seeds from crops instead of buying new seeds. The company files about 11 lawsuits a year to protect its business interest in the seeds and prevent those farmers from having an unfair advantage over competitors who are legally buying Monsanto?s seeds.

In 2006, Harold Steve Wiser Jr. operated more than 50 farms in Crawford, Erie, Mercer and Venango counties, according to a 2009 federal lawsuit he filed over the denial of a crop insurance claim.

Al Lindsay, the Butler lawyer who represented Wiser in the lawsuit, said he has the largest wheat growing operation in the state. Lindsay hadn?t heard of the Monsanto lawsuit and declined to comment.

The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau has no policy or position on the issue, said spokesman Mark O?Neill. From one perspective, this is a breach of contract lawsuit, and those are as common for farms as other businesses, he said.

Several farmers declined to discuss the issue on the record, but some informally said that farmers who sign the technology agreements with Monsanto are obligated to meet the terms of the contract.

Ellery Troyer of Waterford said one reason he uses conventional wheat seeds instead of Monsanto?s genetically modified seeds is so he can save seeds and replant them each year [GENET: there is no commercial RR GE wheat in the USA]. He does use Monsanto?s genetically modified soybean seeds and honors the technology contract for those seeds.

Farmers that sign a contract with Monsanto have to abide by its terms, Troyer said.

?In general, I?m not big fan of a corporation owning a patent on a gene,? he said. ?But nobody?s telling them they have to buy the seeds from them.?

Of more concern to him and other conventional wheat farmers is the threat of Monsanto suing them because cross-pollination can contaminate their fields with the company?s engineered seeds.

?It should be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for them to sue us,? he said. ?They?re fully aware of how crops are pollinated.?

Troyer said cross-pollination is even more a concern for organic farmers because if testing shows any contamination from nearby fields of genetically modified grain, they lose their crop.

?It?s a really messy situation when you start messing around with gene pools,? he said.