Seminar Examines Biotech Concerns

Article excerpt

Byline: Joe Harwood The Register-Guard

Percy Schmeiser ran afoul of agrochemical giant Monsanto Co. nearly six years ago over genetically modified canola plants found growing in a ditch on his Saskatchewan farm.

Monsanto sued, claiming that Schmeiser had illegally obtained and profited from the company's patented, bioengineered canola seeds, which are resistant to the popular Roundup herbicide.

Schmeiser, a third-generation farmer, insisted that he never bought Monsanto's "Roundup Ready" canola seed, contending that his canola crop was cross-fertilized by pollen from a neighboring farm's genetically modified Monsanto seed.

The company, with $4.6 billion in 2002 sales, argued that because the genetically altered plants were found on Schmeiser's land, the farmer had violated the company's patent. In 2001, a judge ruled for Monsanto, according to reports in the Canadian media. The judge said the mere presence of the modified transgenes on Schmeiser's farm infringed on the company patent rights.

Since then, Schmeiser has become the poster boy for the worldwide movement against bioengineering.

Schmeiser will give the keynote address at today's "Malthus, Mendel and Monsanto: Intellectual Property and the Law and Politics of Global Food Supply" symposium at the University of Oregon. …