Farmer vs. biotech: Supreme Court will decide if soybean seeds get copy protection


Today, the Supreme Court is set to begin hearing a case between agrochemical giant Monsanto and a farmer who figured out a way around Monsanto’s strict requirement that its customers buy new varieties of its genetically modified soybean seeds every year. The New York Times breaks down the fascinating case, which could shape the future of any self-replicating technology.

The farmer, 75-year-old Vernon Hugh Bowman, attempted to grow two soybean crops on his farm beginning in 1999. The first crop was Monsanto’s patented genetically modified soybeans, which are resistant to the company’s weed-killer chemical Roundup. Then Bowman planted another crop using cheaper mixed soybean seeds purchased from a grain elevator, which are usually used…

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