February 10, 2010 Jairam Ramesh, India’s minister for environment and forests, announced yesterday that India would impose a temporary moratorium on the introduction of a genetically modified Aubergine (eggplant). Bt Brinjal, would have been the first genetically modified food allowed for commercial cultivation in India. The Aubergine had been modified with a gene from the […]
January 28, 2010 Western Australia recently decided to allow genetically modified (GM) canola to be planted in their fields. A statewide ban on GM food and crops was adopted in 2003. This from GeneEthics.org: “State governments agreed with widespread warnings that GM canola would adversely impact markets and trade in Australian food products. They used […]
January 18, 2010 Battle ahead: the two largest seed companies, Monsanto and DuPont, have gone to court over their seeds. Apparently DuPont created a new line of genetically modified seed by adding one of their genes to an existing genetically engineered Roundup Ready seed, which was created by Monsanto. DuPont “is challenging Monsanto’s licensing agreement […]
January 13, 2010 In a report (A Comparison of the Effects of Three GM Corn Varieties on Mammalian Health) published in the International Journal of Biological Sciences, “researchers found that agricultural giant Monsanto’s GM corn is linked to organ damage in rats.” Monsanto refuted the study, in Monsanto Response: de Vendomois et al. 2009, and […]
This video from the political advocacy group Greenpeace, provides an overview of the contentious issues of biotechnology (genetic engineering) as it applies to food production. In some ways, biotechnology is the equivalent of the abortion rights issue of the agriculture world. Both sides of the debate hold entrenched views. Those in opposition to its use […]
In Claire Hope Cummings book, Uncertain Peril, she writes about the importance of preserving biodiversity, and native plant species.
Claire Hope Cummings hones in upon the essential problems plaguing our food system: industrialized agriculture.
In this final post, I shift ground a bit to talk about a case the Supreme Court will consider in its new term starting this fall. The case is known Bilski v. Doll. The Bilski case raises the basic question, when is a process too abstract to be patentable? The answer to the question will obviously be most pertinent to patents on things like computer software and methods of conducting business (such as finance or marketing strategies). But, depending on how the Court explains its decision, the case could have broader implications for whether people can patent other processes, such as a process for diagnosing an illness or for treating an illness.
Finally, I suggested two big questions that these new statutes left unanswered: (1) does a living organism other than a plant fall within the patentable subject matter categories for regular utility patents?; and (2) do plants, and seeds, fall within the patentable subject matter categories for regular utility patents? These questions, especially the second, are pressing because utility patent protection is stronger than either of the special protections designed just for plants.
Part 1: Monsanto sells a glyphosate-based herbicide called “Roundup.” Monsanto also sells seeds for crops – such as soy, corn, sugar beet, cotton, and others – that are genetically engineered to resist Roundup. Monsanto calls these seeds “Roundup Ready.” Patent law was critical to Monsanto’s business strategy, on both the herbicide and crop seed sides […]