Percy Schmeiser is not charged with a crime and is not charged with breaking a contract.
The Bruno, Sask., farmer is on trial in federal court in Saskatoon for allegedly breaching a Monsanto patent.
This makes his case different from those of other farmers in North America who have been sued by companies like Monsanto for growing patented crops without permission.
It is also different from a criminal trial, in which a person is accused of breaking a law in the criminal code.
In most breach of contract cases, many of which have been settled before trial, companies have sued farmers who had signed contracts to grow their crop. Growers who produce a crop protected by Monsanto’s technology use agreement agree to grow no more than a specific number of acres with the seed, and promise not to use any of the harvested seed to plant another crop.
Many of the civil charges Monsanto has laid against Canadian and American farmers claim farmers either grew more acres than they were allowed or they saved seed at the end of the season to plant another crop.
The Schmeiser case is different. He never signed an agreement with Monsanto and never legally purchased Roundup Ready seed.
Monsanto believes Schmeiser bought the seed from a third party. Schmeiser says he never planted any of Monsanto’s protected seed, so any of Monsanto’s gene that appeared in his crop resulted from cross pollination.
The company is suing him for breaching its patent on the genetic modification of the seed. Monsanto said it had Schmeiser’s crop tested and found it contained the company’s patented gene.
Monsanto will try to show that the only way Schmeiser could have produced a crop with this concentration of Monsanto’s gene is by obtaining the seed from someone who grew Roundup Ready canola.
The lawsuit is taking place in federal court, which is responsible for all patent trials.