View Poll Results: Should we be able to patent genomes?

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Thread: Should we be able to patent genomes?

  1. #1
    Advisor Sanitas's Avatar
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    Should we be able to patent genomes?

    Should we be able to patent genomes? As in, certain plants, or plant mutations.

    It's already been happening.

    Canada Rules in Favor of Monsanto over Seed Saving Farmer Percy Schmeiser

    The Supreme Court of Canada made biotechnology history Friday with a 5-4 ruling that a Saskatchewan farmer violated a patent Monsanto Canada Inc. held on genes of genetically engineered canola seeds
    With the ruling, Canada follows the U.S. Supreme Court in deciding on patent issues involving plants and seed genes.
    The litigation commenced in 1997, when Monsanto found its genetically engineered canola plant growing on Percy Schmeiser's farm. Mr. Schmeiser contended that since a plant is a higher life form and cannot be patented, he had done nothing wrong.

    Monsanto did not claim protection for the genetically modified plant itself, but rather for the genes and the modified cells it is composed of.
    Read the rest of the article.

    I think this is an example of how corporations can control of our lives. A species of plant is not an invention, no matter how you genetically modify it.

    Also, Monsanto has been patenting certain seeds, effectively controlling the diversity of other species of plants.

    I was also told that it is unconstitutional to patent a plant-item, though the supreme court overruled that in a case. If someone knows about this, could they try and find it for me?
    "All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language...No man is an island, entire of itself...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee." - John Donne

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    Re: Should we be able to patent genomes?

    So Monsanto would argue that all the naturally occuring mutations of the same nature as theirs would be their property? What are they going to do, sue nature?

    This is really stupid, and it's going to end up with a few companies controlling every variant of every plant in a few decades.
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    Re: Should we be able to patent genomes?

    Patent law is already horribly broken, and it is completely unable to handle the unique nature of biology. I think it is possible and maybe even beneficial to create a incentive system for developing genomes, but trying to use our current laws would result be a disaster.

  4. #4
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    Re: Should we be able to patent genomes?

    Hell no.

    The process used to engineer them, perhaps, but the genes themselves?

    No.

    The point someone made about having to sue nature was amusing.
    Education.

    Sometimes I think we're alone. Sometimes I think we're not. In either case, the thought is staggering. ~ R. Buckminster Fuller

  5. #5
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    Re: Should we be able to patent genomes?

    Any engineered gene sequence that they can show does not naturally occur in Nature, yes. If it is later discovered that the sequence does occur in Nature, the patent should be void. That would just be the risk they take.

    Any gene sequence that gets into the wild should be considered a contamination. If it is a 'benign' contamination, they should not be held responsible for any damages. Otherwise, they should have to pay (out of an escrow account which they have set up for each genome they intend to produce and bring to market) for any costs to contain and eradicate it. If this makes it difficult and expensive to engage in genetic engineering, I would rather the risk be on them than on the public at large.

    One specific kind of contamination is when a sequence invades someone elses property. For example, if some farmer plants Monsanto Wonder Corn and it gets into Farmer Joe's Organic Corn through cross pollination. Once this kind of thing occurs, they should have to reimburse Joe for damages if either he or they discover it, and pay for any eradication. Alternatively, if they want, and Joe is agreeable to it, Joe can now use the seed he gets from his own crops that contains the genome.

    In short, I am not opposed to, or even hostile to, the notion of patenting engineered genes. There is a very real possibility that such engineering could solve much hunger in the world. However, all the risk in their doing so should be on them, not on the people in the society's where they profit. Unfortunately, some companies appear to want to externalize that risk, and we should not let them.

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    Re: Should we be able to patent genomes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dezaad View Post
    Any engineered gene sequence that they can show does not naturally occur in Nature, yes. If it is later discovered that the sequence does occur in Nature, the patent should be void. That would just be the risk they take.
    Just a quick question, how do you determine if the gene sequence they create can naturally occur? I'd imagine that every possible gene combination would happen at some point or another, over time.

    Besides that, I completely agree with you.
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    Re: Should we be able to patent genomes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sanitas View Post
    Should we be able to patent genomes? As in, certain plants, or plant mutations.

    It's already been happening.

    Canada Rules in Favor of Monsanto over Seed Saving Farmer Percy Schmeiser







    Read the rest of the article.

    I think this is an example of how corporations can control of our lives. A species of plant is not an invention, no matter how you genetically modify it.

    Also, Monsanto has been patenting certain seeds, effectively controlling the diversity of other species of plants.

    I was also told that it is unconstitutional to patent a plant-item, though the supreme court overruled that in a case. If someone knows about this, could they try and find it for me?
    No you shouldn't.
    Once you release a living thing, you have no reasonable expectation of control over the thing.
    I was discovering that life just simply isn't fair and bask in the unsung glory of knowing that each obstacle overcome along the way only adds to the satisfaction in the end. Nothing great, after all, was ever accomplished by anyone sulking in his or her misery.
    —Adam Shepard

  8. #8
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    Re: Should we be able to patent genomes?

    Quote Originally Posted by repeter View Post
    Just a quick question, how do you determine if the gene sequence they create can naturally occur? I'd imagine that every possible gene combination would happen at some point or another, over time.

    Besides that, I completely agree with you.
    A lot of these seeds have built in terminator genes which make them sterile.
    It works 99% of the time but not always.
    I was discovering that life just simply isn't fair and bask in the unsung glory of knowing that each obstacle overcome along the way only adds to the satisfaction in the end. Nothing great, after all, was ever accomplished by anyone sulking in his or her misery.
    —Adam Shepard

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    Re: Should we be able to patent genomes?

    Patent laws need a lot of reform.

    Humanity needs to get past this "ownership" thing so we can make some real progress.

  10. #10
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    Re: Should we be able to patent genomes?

    From my understanding we already have a problem with this in the US. Seed companies that have modified food crops can pattent the genome. This in itsself seems bad enough but from what I have heard when the wind (or other methods) pollinate neighboring properties and the next generation has traces of the patented DNA these people CAN be sued and it has driven many farmers into an agreement to purchase only said companies seeds causing a huge manopoly in the seed industry. Agree to purchase seed exclusivly from them or fight very costly court battles with the seed corporations.

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