Supreme Court favors Monsanto in oral arguments Tuesday

Rebecca Harrington

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the Bowman v. Monsanto Co. today, and the majority seemed to be on Monsanto's side, The New York Times reported.

Monsanto argues that subsequent generations of its gentically modified Roundup Ready soybeans cannot be planted without compensating the company, as outlined in its patents and licenses, according to a previous MN Daily article. But Indiana farmer Vernon Bowman, 75, argues the crop's patents have been "exhausted" because the seeds from the next generations shouldn't be protected.

Chief Justice John Roberts at one point in the arguments blatantly sided with Monsnato, The Wall Street Journal reported. "Why in the world," he asked, "would anybody spend any money to try to improve the seed if as soon as they sold the first one anybody could grow more and have as many of those seeds as they want?"

The case could have effects on other self-replicating technologies like medical inventions, which is why more than a dozen universities signed on to a friend-of-the-court brief in support of Monsanto. The University of Minneosta did not sign it.

Research and development funding accounts for $1.5 billion of Monsanto's budget per year, according to The Wall Street Journal. To patent and sell a single technology, it takes $100 million.

The Supreme Court is expected to make a decision in June, according to NPR.