They’ll want to know if farmers are replanting soybean seeds a second year, in violation of a contract they sign when they purchase bags of soybean seeds for planting.
If necessary, plant samples will undergo a form of agricultural forensics through DNA laboratory analysis.
“The investigations will be random, and the investigators will sit down with the farmers and help them comply,” said Randy Schlatter, manager of intellectual property for DuPont Pioneer.
Generations of farmers have saved seeds from one harvest to the next, in part to avoid buying new seed. But since the dawn of the biotechnology age in the late 1990s, seed companies have enforced their intellectual property rights.
Courts have generally backed the companies, but the U.S. Supreme Court agreed in October to consider how far the planting restrictions can go.
Monsanto, Pioneer’s rival in the seed business, has sued some farmers over violations of its Roundup Ready genetic trait used in soybeans.
Schlatter hopes matters won’t go that far with DuPont Pioneer customers. “We respect the growers, and want to keep them as friends and customers,” he said.
Monsanto has sued to protect its Roundup Ready trait, which is widely licensed to DuPont Pioneer and other seed companies. The seed’s DNA genetics have been modified to enable the soybean plant to thrive after Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide has been applied.
But the patent for Roundup Ready expires next year.
DuPont Pioneer and other seed companies are thus left on their own to enforce other biotechnology or breeding patents that may be in a single soybean plant.
“Monsanto’s been the bad guy for a long time, and now Pioneer has to step up,” said soybean farmer Roy Bardole of Rippey…”