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Legal Roundtable: Monsanto Likely To Win Case, Gun Legislation, St. Louis Cards Rally Squirrel, Etc.

(via Flickr/mike matney)

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a legal battle between St. Louis-based Monsanto and a 75-year-old farmer from Indiana named Vernon Hugh Bowman.

While some Supreme Court justices have already tipped their hat signifying Monsanto will likely win the case, the issue revolves around whether Bowman violated Monsanto’s patent rights when he planted soybean seeds from a grain elevator.

The seeds purchased from the elevator were intended for animal feed and not for planting, though, as Bowman presumed, they contained Monsanto’s patented, genetically-engineered traits – genes that allow the seeds to survive being sprayed with the company’s widely-used Roundup herbicide.

A panel of legal experts weighed in on the issue. 

“A lot of university research centers weighed in on the side of Monsanto.  If you let a person buy a self-replicating technology, replicate it and suddenly own it, you are going to lose people who are making inventions at universities and other places like Apple and Microsoft,” Bill Freivogel said.

Catherine Hanaway of Ashcroft Hanaway Law Firm remarked that the case is a “David and Goliath story for individual farmers…This is a pitched battle in the agricultural community. I tend to believe agriculture benefits more from companies such as Monsanto but it’s a very emotional argument. It’s tough.”

Hanaway, Freivogel and Mark Smith joined host Don Marsh for our monthly legal roundtable discussion.

They also discussed a bevy of gun legislation proposed in Missouri, a potential trademark settlement in the case of the Rally Squirrel, which endeared itself to fans during the St. Louis Cardinals 2011 post-season run, and the possible local impacts of sequestration.

More information about our guests:

William Freivogel, J.D., Director, School of Journalism; Associate Professor, Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, Southern Illinois University – Carbondale

Catherine Hanaway, J.D., Partner, Ashcroft Hanaway Law Firm, former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri, former Republican Speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives

Mark Smith, J.D., Assistant Vice Chancellor and Director, The Career Center, Washington University in St. Louis

With assistance from Véronique LaCapra.

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Alex is the executive producer of "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.
Mary Edwards came to St. Louis Public Radio in 1974, just after finishing her Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She has served the station in a number of capacities over the years. From 1988-2014 she also taught an undergraduate class in radio production at Webster University. Mary was inducted into the St. Louis Media History Foundation Media Hall of Fame in April, 2017 and received the Gateway Media Literacy Partners' Charles Klotzer Media Literacy Award in 2012. Mary retired from St. Louis Public Radio in 2018, but still serves the station as a St. Louis Symphony Producer.
Don Marsh served as host of St. Louis Public Radio’s “St. Louis on the Air" from 2005 to 2019, bringing discussions of significant topics to listeners' ears at noon Monday through Friday. Don has been an active journalist for 58 years in print, radio and television. He has won 12 Regional Emmy Awards for writing, reporting, and producing. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, was inducted into the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame in 2013, and named “Media Person of the Year” by the St. Louis Press Club in 2015. He has published three books: his most recent, “Coming of Age, Liver Spots and All: A Humorous Look at the Wonders of Getting Old,” “Flash Frames: Journey of a Journeyman Journalist” and “How to be Rude (Politely).” He holds an honorary Doctor of Arts and Letters degree from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
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