Supreme Court ruling strongly signals that cells and genes are patentable, says Eileen McMahon in The New York Times

May 22, 2004

Canada's Supreme Court ruled on Friday that Percy Schmeiser, a 73 year-old Saskatchewan farmer, infringed Monsanto's patent on its Roundup Ready genetically modified canola.

The court deemed that because Schmeiser had not financially benefited from the plants' engineered ability to withstand Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, Schmeiser is not subject to a financial penalty. The ruling merely upholds Monsanto's patent rights.

Schmeiser and his supporters, including numerous farmers and environmental groups, expressed disappointment at the ruling. From the outset, Schmeiser had claimed that Monsanto's genetically modified canola seeds had landed in his fields by accident.

Eileen McMahon called the ruling "a fantastic decision in terms of biotechnology and patents," and said that with this ruling, "we have a strong signal that cells and genes are patentable."

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