Monsanto tangles with more Canadian farmers on licensing
July 19, 2001
SASKATOON (CP) - Fresh from its battle with Percy Schmeiser, Monsanto is set to tangle in court with another Saskatchewan farmer who it alleges has illegally grown Roundup Ready canola.
The company says it is now prepared to take on a number of concurrent actions against farmers in several regions of the Prairies to stop patent infringement of the gene it has licensed to seed companies and thousands of farmers.
The company filed suit in Court of Queen's Bench in Saskatoon last week against Yorkton-area farmer Kelly Ryczak. It wants an injunction to stop Ryczak from growing canola varieties which include a patented gene that makes the canola resistant to the herbicide Roundup or other generic glyphosate sprays.
Monsanto alleges Ryczak infringed its patent in his crops of 1999, 2000 and 2001. The statement of claim says Ryczak "improperly obtained glyphosate-resistant canola seeds" from his father Metro Ryczak or from several other farmers who had been granted a licence to plant such seeds by Monsanto.
Last year, the company took on farmer Percy Schmeiser of Bruno, Sask. Schmeiser is now appealing a Federal Court of Canada decision that he violated the Monsanto patent on its canola gene, ordering him to pay $19,000 in damages.
"We did have a number of people waiting in the queue, but (Schmeiser) was the first case where we attempted to find out if the patent was valid," said Monsanto Canada spokeswoman Trish Jordan.
"You don't know how strong that patent really is until somebody violates it and it's upheld in a court of law."
Jordan said Yorkton has tended to be a "hot area" for Monsanto investigators, as well as the Peace River area of Alberta. She said it isn't a surprise that some farmers still attempt to grow the crop without paying Monsanto the $15 an acre technology fee.
"We've been more than aware there are a number of blatant violators," she said, adding this annoys customers who pay the fee and who provide many of the tips to Monsanto about potential violators.
"For the people who are using the technology and paying for it, that's a message we hear loud and clear every single day." Schmeiser himself maintained his fields must have become contaminated from seed which blew off trucks or from cross-pollination. Ryczak could not be reached for comment.
© The Canadian Press, 2001