The Supreme Court upheld Monsanto's biotech seed patents on Monday, dealing a blow to a group of organic farmers and other activists trying to stop the biotech company from suing farmers if their fields contain a few plants containing the company's genetically modified traits.
The Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association and a group of dozens of organic and conventional family farmers, seed companies and public advocacy interests sued Monsanto in March 2011. The suit sought to prohibit the company from suing farmers whose fields became inadvertently contaminated with corn, soybeans, cotton, canola and other crops containing Monsanto's genetic modifications.
A protester against Monsanto genetically modified food in New York's Bryant Park.Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Monsanto has genetically engineered its specialty seeds to withstand dousings of glyphosate, the main ingredient in the company's Roundup herbicide.
The group asked Monsanto for a pledge not to sue, but the company refused, saying: "A blanket covenant not to sue any present or future member of petitioners' organizations would enable virtually anyone to commit intentional infringement.''
The biotech crops are widely used throughout the United States. Monsanto has sued more than 100 farmers for patent infringement, winning judgments against those found to have made use of its seed without paying required royalties.