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The worlds' food giants are extending their control over world food systems by patenting everyday vegetables, such as broccoli, onions, melons, lettuce and cucumber.

Previously the European Union had resisted allowing patents on food items that involve natural processes such as this, but the new decisions are signaling a change in favour of giants Monsanto and Syngenta.

Processes that are essentially biological, involving natural phenomena such as crossing or selection are not patentable, but it is now being argued that if nothing is left to natural chance - through genetically modified seeds - then they should be able to exert ownership over food.

Now since the dawn of the agricultural age - more than 10,000 years - crop growers have been selectively improving their crops through seed selection and many are not happy that food giants in lab coats are capitalising on all of this knowledge for profit by accelerating such processes through science.

The implications of this are mind-boggling. Making it illegal for someone to grow food for any reason seems strange to me. But tightening the grip that these companies have on the world food market could have disastrous consequences.

 

More at Sam Judd: Sued for growing food - World - NZ Herald News

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Thank you Grant!

I am so happy to have experienced a life of 'freedom'! I still can grow any veg I like, I can save me seeds and sow again and again! As things are going, the generations after us won't have this freedom. Sadly!

I am sure they have even more BS on their books!

Has anybody seen the movie 'Soilent Green'?

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:rofl: this world is going 'nuts'!!!!

You might not be able to say that soon, as "nuts" is bound to be a trademarked name and covered by a multitude of patents... :whistle:

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The worlds' food giants are extending their control over world food systems by patenting everyday vegetables, such as broccoli, onions, melons, lettuce and cucumber.

 

err... not exactly. They're patenting their versions of everyday vegetables - a fairly important distinction.

 

Really, I wonder what the difference is between patent protection and PVR (plant variety rights) protection, which is commonly used when new varieties are developed by conventional breeding practices. Perhaps a patent might last longer than the 23 years afforded by PVR?

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err... not exactly. They're patenting their versions of everyday vegetables - a fairly important distinction.

 

Really, I wonder what the difference is between patent protection and PVR (plant variety rights) protection, which is commonly used when new varieties are developed by conventional breeding practices. Perhaps a patent might last longer than the 23 years afforded by PVR?

I would expect that PVR is for a clonal line of plants propagated through dividing/cuttings/meristem culture/grafting etc and wouldn't apply to seed - i.e. asexual reproduction rather than sexual (just a guess, not something I've read up on). I do find the idea that you could enforce a patent for an inserted gene beyond the initial seed sold to farmers very worrying.

 

Here's a hypothetical:

What if I could genetically modify a honeybee by inserting a gene that makes them completely impervious to Varroa and patent the bee carrying this gene? Very strong selective pressure for this in the field so I could release it and sit back and sue or collect royalties from anyone that ends up with my gene in their bees.

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I would expect that PVR is for a clonal line of plants propagated through dividing/cuttings/meristem culture/grafting etc and wouldn't apply to seed - i.e. asexual reproduction rather than sexual (just a guess, not something I've read up on). .

 

 

Good thought - had to go look it up now. reproductive material is covered, however.

 

from Plant Variety Rights Act 1987, Section 2, Interpretation:

 

"reproductive material, in relation to any variety, means any portion of a plant of that variety by means of which plants of that variety may be reproduced or propagated; and includes spores, seeds, and whole plants"

 

Section 19 goes on to lay out the rights of grantees to control the material.

 

But PVR protection really protects the VARIETY... ie, the whole organism, not just a single inserted gene.

 

I do find the idea that you could enforce a patent for an inserted gene beyond the initial seed sold to farmers very worrying.

 

Absolutely, and I hope that's not the case here.

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I would expect that PVR is for a clonal line of plants propagated through dividing/cuttings/meristem culture/grafting etc and wouldn't apply to seed - i.e. asexual reproduction rather than sexual (just a guess, not something I've read up on). I do find the idea that you could enforce a patent for an inserted gene beyond the initial seed sold to farmers very worrying.

 

Here's a hypothetical:

What if I could genetically modify a honeybee by inserting a gene that makes them completely impervious to Varroa and patent the bee carrying this gene? Very strong selective pressure for this in the field so I could release it and sit back and sue or collect royalties from anyone that ends up with my gene in their bees.

I would happily pay the royalties, too.
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I would happily pay the royalties, too.
\

 

But how are you going to feel paying the royalties five years later, Janice... when the gene has spread through the entire population (voluntarily or involuntarily on the part of individual beekeepers)... and as a result varroa has become extinct in New Zealand.

 

Suddenly you're paying a royalty on something to which there is now no alternative, because the gene is in all bees... but, even worse, you're paying for nothing because there is no varroa left to protect the bees from!

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But how are you going to feel paying the royalties five years later, Janice... when the gene has spread through the entire population (voluntarily or involuntarily on the part of individual beekeepers)... and as a result varroa has become extinct in New Zealand.

 

Suddenly you're paying a royalty on something to which there is now no alternative, because the gene is in all bees... but, even worse, you're paying for nothing because there is no varroa left to protect the bees from!

It would be a bit like paying for flu vaccinations each year whether you are getting the flu or not. Varroa could come back the same way it did last time or any number of other ways. Also, patents do expire, as drug companies know very well.
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