SB 194 - This act creates procedures that a patent holder of genetically-modified seed must follow before entering onto private farmland to take plant samples. Specifically, the patent holder must notify the farmer in writing of the suspected breach of contract or patent infringement; provide a copy of the notification to the director of the Department of Agriculture; obtain written permission from the farmer to enter the property; and inform the farmer of the required procedures described in the act.
The farmer must respond in writing to a request to take samples within 10 days of receipt of the request. The patent holder may petition a court for permission to enter the property and may also seek a protective order if the patent holder has reason to believe that a crop to be sampled may be intentionally damaged or destroyed. Once permission has been granted by either the farmer or a court, the patent holder may enter the property in order to take samples. The farmer or the patent holder may request to have the Department of Agriculture present at the sampling or actually conduct the sampling. The department may charge reasonable fees for any sampling activities it conducts, for which the patent holder is responsible for paying. The results from any sampling must be sent via registered letter to all parties involved within 30 days after the results are first reported.
A violation of the act by a patent holder is punishable by penalty of no less than $50,000 per violation.
The act creates certain immunity from liability for farmers on whose property is found evidence of a patented genetically-modified plant when the farmer did not knowingly buy or acquire the plant, otherwise acted in good faith, and the presence of the plant is minimal.
The act requires that any contract for the purchase of patented genetically-modified seed shall comply with the provisions of the act or else the contract shall be considered in violation of state law and shall be null and void.