The Supreme Court is being petitioned to hear a case regarding whether farmers can save and replant genetically modified seeds. Monsanto Company sued an Indiana farmer for purchasing and replanting its Roundup Ready soybeans. The courts have upheld that Monsanto’s patents for its GM seeds can be used to stop farmers from saving and replanting them.
Although the Federal Circuit Court upheld the ruling for Monsanto, Indiana farmer Vernon Bowman has petitioned the Supreme Court to hear the case. He claims his use of the seeds is covered by patent law’s “exhaustion doctrine.” This doctrine holds that a patent holder’s rights in a product are “exhausted” when the product is sold to an end user, according to Wired Science. Bowman further argues that because he was not required to sign a licensing agreement when he purchased the seeds, he was free to plant them.
This week, upon the vote of at least four Justices, the Supreme Court asked the Obama administration to weigh in on the petition, requesting that the Solicitor General, the official in charge of representing the Obama administration, file briefs expressing the views of the United States, Patently-O reported. Although the case remains to be heard—the court can still opt not to do so—a study of 30,000 petitions found that those for which the court requests a response from the Solicitor General are four times more likely to be granted.