Monsanto Mistakenly Sues Farmers Over Seed Saving

On July 13, 2011 the agricultural giant Monsanto filed two lawsuits against Erie area farmers, accusing them, according to the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette, of planting seeds saved from plants grown from the company’s genetically engineered products.

According to the initial complaint, farmers Harold Wiser, of Carlton, PA, and Steve Wiser, of Girard, PA, bought Monsanto’s wheat, soybean and corn seeds, and, in 2003, signed an agreement, which, among other things, prohibited saving seeds for next year’s harvest. (See our discussion here on Monsanto’s iron-clad contracts).  According to the initial complaint, however, the two farmers were accused of seed saving in 2009 and 2010.  The initial complaint sought from Wisers triple any damages they allegedly caused the company. It also claimed that the Wisers still owe Monsanto $166,944 for seeds bought in 2010.

In a strange twist, on July 14, 2011, it was reported that the patent infringement clauses in the initial complaint were in error and an amended filing, seeking money for allegedly unpaid seeds, was to have been submitted.  A spokesperson for Monsanto released a statement saying:

The filing was submitted by a third-party vendor and mistakenly included a claim for patent infringement and named Monsanto as the plaintiff.  The filing will be amended today.

Although it appears that as of the evening of July 14, that has yet to be done.

Monsanto’s “oops” moment comes on the heels of the Anonymous hacking attack last month, which, according to CNET, disrupted the website and has “published publicly available information on approximately 2,500 individuals involved in the broader global agriculture industry.”  The online activist group, which, according to a statement released, has formed a splinter cell and has taken credit for the hacking, targeted the company, because it objects to “Monsanto’s corrupt, unethical, and downright evil business practices.”