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Percy Schmeiser looks forward to his appeal

By Robert Schubert
CropChoice editor

(April 12, 2002 – CropChoice news) – The Canadian Federal Court of Appeal will hear farmer Percy Schmeiser’s appeal against Monsanto Co. on May 15 and 16.

"Basically, mine was (and is) a test case to see how far they can go in challenging farmer rights," Schmeiser said.

The Bruno, Saskatchewan resident wants the three appellate judges to set aside the 2001 lower court ruling, which found that he had infringed the patent on the biotechnology company’s Roundup Ready canola – so named for its resistance to the herbicide Roundup (glyphosate).

During the trial, Monsanto withdrew allegations that he had obtained and planted the seed illegally. Nonetheless, the judge ultimately agreed with the claim that the mere presence on the Schmeiser farm of canola with the patented transgenes constituted an infringement of the company’s property rights. "He knew or ought to have known," the judge wrote in his decision.

The case came down to what Schmeiser and his lawyer, Terry Zakreski, view as a poor judicial interpretation of patent law and the legal test for infringement.

"The mere presence (of the canola) does not constitute patent infringement," said Zakreski, who also is representing Saskatchewan organic growers in their lawsuit against Monsanto and Aventis over genetic contamination that they say has made it impossible to organically grow canola; organic standards disallow any presence of genetically modified organisms. They also are seeking an injunction on any commercialization of transgenic wheat, something that Monsanto hopes to do in 2005. (See story: It's official, Saskatchewan organic growers are suing Monsanto, Aventis over GM contamination; http://www.cropchoice.com/leadstry.asp?recid=553.)

One issue that both lawsuits have in common, Zakreski said, is Monsanto’s failure to take responsibility for the genetically modified varieties it has patented.

The Schmeiser appeal is based on 17 points and facts of law that, in Schmeiser’s view, the trial judge ignored; they are available on his website at http://www.percyschmeiser.com.

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