Sunday, September 07, 2008


The pro-privatization courts paved the way for "life" to be "patented" (under Reagan?). I knew that there have been plant varieties that supposedly I can't reproduce or it would be "against the law". As if some person or persons "created" aster plants. It makes me all the more pro-native varieties. It makes plant swaps all the more important.


Our genes have been evolving for hundreds of millions of years. The basic food crops that sustain us all have been carefully bred for at least ten thousand years by farming communities. Yet individuals, institutions, and corporations have the audacity to claim to have invented these shared biological resources. In the two decades since the US Supreme Court first ruled in Diamond v. Chakrabarty that a genetically engineered bacterium could be patented, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has expanded patent rights to encompass not just microorganisms, but gene sequences, expressed sequence tags (ESTs), proteins, cell lines, genetically modified plants and animals, and even non-genetically modified species.

Meanwhile, similar patents on life are being forced on the rest of the world through the Trade Related Aspects of International Property Rights (TRIPs) agreement of the World Trade Organization (WTO). In an attempt to reverse this trend of patenting life, the Council for Responsible Genetics is now working with other groups throughout the United States to draft model legislation that would exclude living organisms and their parts from the patent system. We hope that this model legislation will help build a “No Patents on Life” movement in the United States, which not only supports the growing international movement but also successfully challenges US domestic policy on life patents...

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