E-mail this article to
yourself or a friend.
Enter address:


Schmeiser gets his day in the Supreme Court

(Friday, May 9, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- Percy Schmeiser, the Saskatchewan farmer whose been engaged in a two-year legal battle with Monsanto over its claims that he infringed the patent on its Roundup Ready canola seed, genetically engineered to resist the glyphosate herbicide (sold under the Roundup trade name), has won the right to present his defense before the Supreme Court of Canada. Past rulings against Schmeiser have held him liable to the company for more than $170,000 in damages and legal costs.

Schmeiser's lawyer , Terry Zakreski, told the Globe and Mail: "It's a big thrill and it's great news to hear this. I'm sure Percy will have a smile on his face as big as Saskatchewan when he finds out. I compare this to Mount Everest. We've come all this way and we are only at about base camp. All the tough climbing is still ahead."

To see the full story, visit: http://www.cbc.ca/stories/2003/05/08/percy_monsanto030508

What follows is a Council of Canadians press release on news out of the Supreme Court.

OTTAWA, ON - In a decision rendered today by communique, the Supreme Court of Canada has confirmed it will hear the case of Percy Schmeiser. The Council of Canadians views this decision as a victory for farmers who currently stand liable for the accidental contamination of their fields, and a battle won in a larger war against the patenting of GE seeds. This is a key moment for Percy Schmeiser and countless farmers who are legally challenged by Monsanto. After the Federal Court of Canada (FCC) decided against him and after seeing the Federal Court of Appeals (FCA) throw out his appeal, the Supreme Court of Canada will now tackle the issue of patenting seeds and the burden of responsibility in the case of contamination.

Percy Schmeiser was never accused nor condemned of stealing Monsanto's GE canola seeds. He was accused of infringing Monsanto's patenting rights by having Round-up Ready canola in his fields, regardless of the fact that these seeds got there accidentally.

As part of his ruling, the original judge agreed a farmer can generally own the seeds or plants grown on his land if they blow in or are carried there by pollen, but not in the case of genetically modified seed. "The last two decisions basically mean that the cost of the contamination by GE seeds is to be assumed by the victims of it and that Monsanto, who was the cause of the contamination in the first place, has a legal right to profit from it," explains Nadege Adam, biotechnology campaigner for the Council of Canadians.

"This interpretation might make sense under a very old copyright/patent law... but a law that punishes the victim and rewards the perpetrator has to be changed. "We are very confident that the Supreme Court will do the right thing by reversing the Federal Court of Canada's decision, and exonerating Mr. Schmeiser and all farmers. The Oncomouse case last December demonstrated how inadequate the federal patenting legislation is vis-a-vis genetic engineering."