Viewpoint: What farmers should know about ‘technology use agreements’ for GMO seeds

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Editor’s note: Peter Welte is a lawyer at Vogel Law Firm in Fargo, North Dakota

With the different varieties of crops carrying the “Roundup Ready,” “LibertyLink” or other genetically modified organism characteristics, I’m often surprised at how many farmers don’t blink an eye at the contract terms of the “TUGs” they enter into when they plant a GMO commodity.

A technology use agreement — or TUG — is entered into by any farmer who plants a GMO commodity. These agreements, also simply known as “technology agreements,” contain the terms under which a farmer may plant the seed of the company selling the seed.

But the agreement also contains the limitations for which the grown seed — the crop produced by the seed — may be used and how and where the crop may be sold. And the agreement also contains several other conditions that most farmers wouldn’t agree to if they were on a level playing field with the seed company.

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The biggest immediate ramification of the TUG is that “brown bagging” the crop is strictly prohibited. Unlike the good old days, a farmer can’t sock away a few bushels of seed in a bin and use it for seed the next year. Instead, the TUG dictates that the entire crop must be harvested and sold at the elevator, absent other arrangements made with a seed dealer.

Farmers who are concerned about the terms of their technology agreement should consult their attorney before proceeding with their concerns unaddressed.

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Read full, original post: What does a technology agreement for seed mean to you?

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