Monsanto wants to patent the farmyard pig, according to the anti-GM Organic Consumers Association:
Monsanto Company, already a world powerhouse in biotech crops, is shaking up the swine industry with plans to patent pig-breeding techniques and lay claim to the animals born as a result.
"We're afraid that Monsanto and other big companies are getting control of the world's genetic resources," said Christoph Then, a patent expert with Greenpeace in Germany.
Ooh, this sounds bad: Monsanto shouldn’t be allowed to patent life forms. Wait a minute – they’re not. Something only qualifies for a patent if it is useful, novel and non-obvious. Now, I’m not an attorney but I think that means you can’t patent the pig’s genome but you could patent (say) a method you developed for determining if a pig had genes that would be advantageous for breeding purposes. Yes, the article goes on to say:
The practices Monsanto wants to patent basically involve identifying genes that result in desirable traits in swine, breeding animals to achieve those traits and using a specialized device to inseminate sows deeply in a way that uses less sperm than is typically required.
That’s what I thought. If they have developed a method for determining breeding stock to give desired traits, or if they had developed a new insemination procedure, they should be able to patent it. This wouldn’t stop farmers from continuing to use their traditional methods for the same thing if they want. They would presumably only use the patented Monsanto procedures if it is more profitable for them to do so.
So why the sensationalist article? Well, the truth never got in the way of organizations like Greenpeace and the Organic Consumers Association, who have launched a writing campaign to bombard Monsanto executives with dross like this proposed pro-forma complaint:
I am deeply concerned about the direction Monsanto Company has taken in the past decade with respect to sustainable agriculture and farmers' rights. Right now we are at a critical crossroads in history, and I fear that Monsanto Company is not contributing to the nation's welfare with a "profits over people" attitude.
Monsanto Company has embarked on a vicious campaign against family farmers in the North American heartland, as well as across the world. These hardworking farmers are the backbone of our nation's food supply and national security. The current climate of insecurity has been exacerbated by your company¹s policies of intimidation, lawsuits and defamation.
Monsanto's legal actions against Percy Schmeiser, the Rodney Nelson family, and the Oakhurst Dairy for example, are deplorable attacks, and do not reflect your "Stake in the Ground" pledge to honesty and decency.
The “profits over people” comment reveals their true motive: anti-corporation / anti-capitalism. Not that that matters in and of itself, but it is dishonest to pretend this is about “sustainable agriculture”.
And there are the usual porkie pies: allegations of a “vicious campaign against family farmers”, and the obligatory reference to Percy Schmeiser. Heard of Schmeiser? The anti-GM groups claim he was sued by Monsanto because some Roundup-ready seed was spilled and accidentally grew on his land. Sounds unfair, right? Well, if that was what happened, it would be. The true (short) version is that Schmeiser stole the seeds. The true (longer) version is that:
- Some Roundup-Ready seeds were accidentally spilled on Schmeiser’s property
- Schmeiser sprayed “a good three acres” of his non-GM fields with Roundup, to kill any crops (ie those non-GM crops he planted himself) that were not the Roundup-Ready volunteers
- Having successfully isolated the Roundup-Ready crops, he collected the seeds and next year planted them on 1,030 acres of his land
- Schmeiser sprayed these fields with Roundup, thus gaining the advantage or the Roundup-Ready crops without having paid for them.
- In 2001 he was found guilty of the above, and in 2002 his appeal was rejected.
Anyone applying a little common sense here would realize that there must have been more to this case than a simple farmer being sued because some GM seed had accidentally blown onto his land. Obviously, a case like that wouldn’t fly. The fact that Greenpeace etc still refer to Schmeiser as the poor innocent farmer, victim of the big evil Monsanto, demonstrates that the facts count less than their agenda.
Of course, with the pig patent case, it will be a few years before it is determined if Monsanto have a legitimate claim to a patent or not. I don’t know what the result will be but I do predict that the anti-GM groups will not report the legal battles honestly. Mark my words! (Randi, watch out, that million is in danger.)
This is what you will see if the Anti-GM groups report this story honestly