Apparently, it doesn’t pay to be a clever farmer. Vernon Hugh Bowman had a brilliant idea. He bought a bunch of soybean seeds from a grain elevator. He figured that some subset of those seeds would contained the Roundup Ready gene, a patent of Monsanto. He planted the seeds, sprayed them to Roundup, and kept the seeds from the plant that survived. Then he had the Roundup resistant seeds that he wanted to sell as such. Monsanto pushed back, of course. And now the Supreme court, in a unanimous decision, found that Bowman had indeed infringed on Monsanto’s patent.
My thinking on this case is complicated. On the one hand, if we are going to have a patent system, we have to enforce patents. On the other hand, Monsanto is polluting the world. Farmers generally only buy seeds from grain elevators for animal feed and other low quality purposes. But one can’t do that if he wants to avoid GMO products. So our government protects the products of corporations but does not hold those corporations responsible for the effects of those products.
I am not saying that GMO seeds are necessarily bad. Pollution isn’t necessarily bad. Pollution is just something that you don’t want. And when it comes to GMO products, there are a lot of people who don’t want them. (I’m not one of those people, by the way.) But when it comes to wealthy people and corporations, we have a different approach to the law. If something makes Monsanto money, that it must be protected. If something cost Monsanto money, then it was me overlooked. This is, of course, exactly the situation with investment banking: privatized profits, socialized losses.
So I’m all for allowing Monsanto their non-free-market profits from their patented genes. But I’m against Monsanto getting to pollute our food supply with products that a good part of the country does not want. More and more, we are becoming a country where the laws are tilted excessively toward corporate profits. The government does everything it can to assure those profits. And we call this the “free market.” Meanwhile, the government does nothing to limit the harm that these corporations do. That would be “socialism.” I assure you, if the situation were reversed and Monsanto were trying to steal Bowman’s seeds, the Supreme Court would have come to the opposite conclusion. I even know the argument they would have made: stopping Monsanto from taking Bowman’s seeds would have been too big a burden on the free market.
“A government of the corporation, by the corporation, for the corporation, shall not perish from the earth.” Just ask the “liberals” on the Supreme Court.