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Montgomery Education Foundation's Brain Forest Summer Learning Academy was spotlighted Wednesday at Carver High School.  The academic-enrichment program is for rising 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in the Montgomery Public School system.  Community Program Director Dillion Nettles, says the program aims to prevent learning loss during summer months.  To find out how your child can participate in next summer's program visit Montgomery-ed.org

A police officer is free on bond after being arrested following a rash of road-sign thefts in southeast Alabama.  Brantley Police Chief Titus Averett says officer Jeremy Ray Walker of Glenwood is on paid leave following his arrest in Pike County.  The 30-year-old Walker is charged with receiving stolen property.  Lt. Troy Johnson of the Pike County Sheriff's Office says an investigation began after someone reported that Walker was selling road signs from Crenshaw County.  Investigators contacted the county engineer and learned signs had been reported stolen from several roads.

NPR Politics presents the Lunchbox List: our favorite campaign news and stories curated from NPR and around the Web in digestible bites (100 words or less!). Look for it every weekday afternoon from now until the conventions.

Convention Countdown

The Republican National Convention is in 4 days in Cleveland.

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My husband and I once took great pleasure in preparing meals from scratch. We made pizza dough and sauce. We baked bread. We churned ice cream.

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A 13-year-old boy is among those arrested, Greg says.

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Farmer Tackling Monsanto's Seed Policy Gets A Day In Supreme Court

Oct 16, 2012
Originally published on February 13, 2013 10:57 am

Why do so many people hate Monsanto?

Is it because this multinational corporation pioneered some enormously successful genetically engineered crops, including corn, soybeans and cotton?

Maybe, but I suspect that much of the passion is inspired by Monsanto's hard-line approach to ownership of those crops. Monsanto claims those seeds — and all offspring of those seeds — as its intellectual property. Farmers aren't allowed to save and replant any part of their harvest; if they do, Monsanto takes them to court and demands large damages. Critics call the company bullying and ruthless.

Ruthless or not, in almost all cases, courts have found Monsanto's tactics perfectly legal. Now, in a move that surprised many observers, the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to take a look.

The court announced earlier this month that it will hear the arguments of a 74-year-old farmer in southwestern Indiana who says that Monsanto's far-reaching claims are unfair and illegal.

The details of this case are intriguing, and slightly different from the earlier "farmer vs. Monsanto" cases. This farmer, Vernon Hugh Bowman, has been a loyal customer for Monsanto's "Roundup Ready" soybeans — but only for the primary growing season, in the spring and early summer. After he harvested his wheat fields, Bowman sometimes tried to squeeze in a second soybean crop on those fields.

That "double crop" was no sure thing, so he didn't invest a lot of money in it. He planted the cheapest seeds he could find — including some ordinary soybeans that he picked up at a local grain elevator. (Peruse the full story yourself in the farmer's account and Monsanto's response.)

But here's the problem: Monsanto's soybeans account for 94 percent of all the soybeans grown in Indiana. So almost all the soybeans that Bowman could get his hands on contained the patented "Roundup Ready" gene.

Bowman went ahead and planted them anyway, without paying Monsanto's "technology fee." He also took advantage of the gene. It allowed him to spray Roundup (or a generic version of the same weedkiller), which made controlling weeds relatively cheap and easy.

Monsanto found out and took Bowman to court. A federal judge agreed that Bowman had broken the law and ordered him to pay $84,000. An appeals court affirmed that decision.

The arguments and counter-arguments that both sides have submitted to the Supreme Court mostly focus on the reach of Monsanto's patents — specifically, whether Monsanto really can demand a royalty for the planting of any soybean containing its patented genes.

But there's a practical issue, too, and it clearly troubled Richard Young, the federal judge in Indiana who first heard this case. "Monsanto's domination of the soybean seed market," he wrote, means that all the cheap "commodity" soybeans that farmers might use for seed are now encumbered by patents.

Young found Bowman's criticism of the "monopolizing effects" of Monsanto's patents "compelling," but the judge essentially threw up his hands. Finding a remedy, he wrote, would be a matter for policymakers, "but this court does not make policy; rather, it interprets and enforces the law, which, in this case, does not support Bowman."

It will be interesting to see whether the Supreme Court decides to wade into this policy question. The case won't be heard, or decided, until sometime next year.

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