ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

4 January 2002


On the 10 December 2001 biotech companies' patenting of not only genetically modified seed but also conventional varieties was legitimated by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, in the case of J.E.M. Ag Supply v. Pioneer Hi-Bred International.

The decision means firms like Pioneer Hi-Bred and Monsanto can require farmers to sign contracts prohibiting seed-saving of any patented seed and it also allows them to check farmers' crops for violations.
Writing up this Supreme Court majority decision, favouring corporate monopoly and bioserfdom, was Justice Clarence Thomas, a Bush Snr appointee and former attorney for... biotech giant Monsanto! [For confirmation of this see:]

Shortly before the decision, we reported on the pro-biotech activities of the Washington Legal Foundation, a lavishly-funded industry front which had filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court urging the Court to find that genetically engineered seed did qualify for patent protection under federal law.

Marcus Williamson <> pointed out that, "Whilst [the Washington Legal Foundation] don't have any exact info about who's funding them (to the tune of $4m in 2000!), the 'Links to other organisations' and 'WLF Clients' includes many of our old friends".

Among the "old friends" that Marcus noted were Elizabeth ("I've been called a paid liar for industry so many times I've lost count") Whelan's American Council on Science and Health, the Cato Institute [adjunct scholar, "the Junkman", Steven Milloy, whose 'junkscience' campaign was launched with the help of Big Tobacco - see item 4 below] and the American Enterprise Institute.

In 2001, as well as ruling on the seed patent issue, Justice Clarence Thomas received the Francis Boyer Award "established by [chemical/pharma giant] SmithKline Beecham in memory of Francis Boyer, a former chairman of SmithKline and a distinguished business leader for many decades"

As a Boyer Award-winner, Thomas got to give the Francis Boyer Lecture which is delivered at the annual dinner of the award givers ­ the American Enterprise Institute.

Justice Thomas used the lecture to emphasise that he early on turned his back on the civil rights movement - nothing wrong in that necessarily, but note his reason: that association with this movement was not good for his career.

Some associations, it seems, are better for a US judge's career than others!!

For the significance for farmers of the Supreme Court decision see: Saving conventional, non-GMO seed? Beware!;
It's THE case: J.E.M. AG Supply v. Pioneer Hi-Bred;
Pioneer v. J.E.M AgSupply may sprout rude awakening;

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