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Canadian court rules against Percy Schmeiser

(March 30, 2001 --Cropchoice news)-- Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser has to pay Monsanto tens of thousands of dollars. That was the ruling yesterday in federal court in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Monsanto sued the farmer after pollen from transgenic canola plants blew onto his field, contaminating his conventional canola.

Farmers fear that they'll be held liable when transgenic traits inadvertently end up in their conventional crops. Cross-pollination is especially problematic with corn and canola.

Federal Judge W. Andrew MacKay ruled that farmers do not have the right to grow patented, transgenic crops unless they pay the company that owns the patent. And what if, as in the case of Schmeiser, pollen from transgenic crops blows onto their conventional crops? They still have to pay.

Margaret Mellon, director of the agriculture and biotechnology program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told The Washington Post: "This means that people who are in the neighborhood of genetically modified crops will have to pay royalties to the companies for products they never purchased and got no benefits from."

Monsanto hailed the ruling that it saw as protection for its patents.

Source: The Washington Post