Saskatchewan farmer violated patent, court rules
CANADIAN PRESS / Globe & Mail 6sep02
recommended: Percy Schmeiser telling his story in
Heartbreak in the Heartland: The True Cost of Genetically Engineered Crops
Also translated into Spanish, French, Chinese, and Hindi
Saskatoon — The Federal Court of Appeal has upheld a ruling that a Saskatchewan farmer violated a patent held by Monsanto on a herbicide-resistant canola.
In March 2001, farmer Percy Schmeiser of Bruno, Sask., was ordered to pay $19,000 in damages for using Roundup Ready canola. He was also ordered to cover Monsanto's court costs of $153,000.
Mr. Schmeiser had argued that either Roundup Ready canola seed blew into his field from a passing truck or his crop may have been contaminated by pollination.
On Thursday, the three-judge appeal court panel unanimously ruled in Monsanto's favour, dismissing all of Mr. Schmeiser's 17 points of contention.
However, they also rejected a bid by Monsanto to see the damages raised to more than $100,000.
Mr. Schmeiser was not available for comment but his lawyer, Terry Zakreski, said his client was disappointed.
"We're still reviewing it and considering whether to seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada," Mr. Zakreski said.
Trish Jordan of Monsanto said the money Mr. Schmeiser has been ordered to pay will be put into the corporation's fund to reinvest into the agriculture community as part of a larger corporate charity program.
"We have always said we will not profit from people doing illegal things," she said.
Despite his loss in court, Mr. Schmeiser has become somewhat of a folk hero among farm and consumer activists around the world who are opposed to genetically modified foods and their use in agriculture.
Some groups from as far away as Australia have paid Mr. Schmeiser to travel to speak to them.
Ms. Jordan said she is not surprised that Mr. Schmeiser became a cause to rally around for those opposed to genetically modified foods or biotechnology in agriculture.
"Obviously, there's always been people against either GM technology or multi-national corporations or corporate control or patents," Ms. Jordan said.
"I think in this particular case Mr. Schmeiser chose to do it through the wrong avenue. On legal grounds, this case was open and shut."
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