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PubPat Kills Four Key Monsanto Patents

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the going-to-seed dept.

Patents 436

IP Ergo Sum writes "PubPat's request for reexamination resulted in the rejection of four key Monsanto patents. According to PubPat, those particular patents were being used to 'harass, intimidate, sue — and in many cases bankrupt — American farmers.'"

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Naaaah (1, Funny)

AlphaLop (930759) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980041)

You mean there was a victory for the little guy? Surely you jest....

Re:Naaaah (5, Insightful)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980077)

Yea, it's one step forward after the 2,401,323 steps we've taken back in the last few years!

Re:Naaaah (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19980119)

Error: mysql_connect() [function.mysql-connect]: Too many connections

Unfortunately there are a few little guys ruining it for the rest of us...

Re:Naaaah (0)

arth1 (260657) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980181)

No, this is not a victory for the little guy. It's a victory for the medium sized guy who grows genetically modified (GM) crops. The little guy who grows the same crops as his grandfather had no problem to begin with.

Re:Naaaah (5, Insightful)

KillerCow (213458) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980401)

The little guy who grows the same crops as his grandfather had no problem to begin with.


You're obviously not up-to-speed with Monsanto. What happens is that a neighboring field cross-pollinates, or some seeds blow off of a passing truck, and all of a sudden, your "grandfather's strain" has been contaminated with the patented Monsanto genes. Somehow, they test your field and they sue you. You can't argue with the DNA, so you are SOL and they shut you down, even though you never wanted their genes to start with.

Re:Naaaah (1, Insightful)

terminal.dk (102718) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980459)

Nope, you sue the bastards for contaminating your crop. Trying to destroy what your family has been trying to breed to perfection for many years. The DNA does not lie. You can see who is behind the attacks.

Re:Naaaah (4, Informative)

erroneus (253617) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980885)

Until recently, that hasn't been successful. You really haven't been following this tragic, unreported story-line. See, their [Monsanto] lawyers are bigger than the farmers' lawyers and that's who has historically won. So on one hand, when they sue for their accidental contamination, they use various arguments such as "it can't be helped, it's nature and nature's function" or "these GM seeds had made your crops better and we counter-sue" or "no, you must have stolen it! and we counter-sue" and on and on.

Re:Naaaah (3, Insightful)

donaldm (919619) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980577)

I think you as the farmer growing normal crops could sue (IANL) for cross pollination but from what I can gather genetically modified plants should not cross pollinate. I do think that the "law" would require the farmer to prove he was innocent since it very easy for the producer of the genetic strain to prove that the farmer has their strain.

On a side note, From what I can gather the patent on GM grain is from 1994 (I thought it went further back than that) so there is still 7 years to go, however there are many groups and even nations opposing GM grains and other GM products. Monsanto really comes across as a company that does not care about anything except being a monopoly that controls all the world's food supply. It has even gone so far as patenting pigs http://www.greenpeace.org/international/news/monsa nto-pig-patent-111 [greenpeace.org] .

Re:Naaaah (2, Informative)

NearlyHeadless (110901) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980633)

You're obviously not up-to-speed with Monsanto. What happens is that a neighboring field cross-pollinates, or some seeds blow off of a passing truck, and all of a sudden, your "grandfather's strain" has been contaminated with the patented Monsanto genes. Somehow, they test your field and they sue you. You can't argue with the DNA, so you are SOL and they shut you down, even though you never wanted their genes to start with.
One Canadian farmer, Percy Schmeiser [wikipedia.org] claimed that, but that claim was rejected by the courts.

In the cases that are cited in the press release [prnewswire.com] the acts are all intentional.

Re:Naaaah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19980743)

Schmeiser's case is on appeal. They have not been fully rejected.

Re:Naaaah (0, Troll)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980693)

you people keep spouting this theory, but todate has this actually happened? as far as i was aware, GM crops are all sterile, so cross pollination is not possible.

not only that, but a strong argument can be made that should cross pollination occur monsanto won't have any claim on the derived crop since it's their duty to make sure it doesn't happen in the first place.

Re:Naaaah (5, Informative)

xaxa (988988) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980895)

This article: http://www.i-sis.org.uk/MonsantovsFarmers.php [i-sis.org.uk] suggests otherwise.
 

Researchers at the University of Manitoba, Canada tested 33 samples of certified canola (oilseed rape) seed stock and 32 were contaminated with GM. The Union of Concerned Scientists tested traditional US seed stocks of corn, soy and canola and found 50% corn, 50% soy and 83% canola contaminated by GM.
One hundred percent purity is no longer achievable, and even if non-contaminated seed could be purchased, some contamination can take place in the field either by transfer of seed by wind, animals or via farm equipment.

It goes on to say that because of cross-contamination 'organic' crops often aren't organic any more.

victory! (5, Funny)

The Clockwork Troll (655321) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980057)

VICTORY IS (nutra)SWEET.

Re:victory! (2, Funny)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980407)

Is that the taste of "Mission Accomplished"?

Re:victory! (1, Funny)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980797)

VICTORY IS (nutra)SWEET.


So what you are saying is that victory is proven to cause cancer in rats, is semi-toxic and make you fat?

Finally (4, Insightful)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980065)

It's about time - but attacking the patents one by one is not a real long term solution, changes to legislation is the only thing that can fix the problem of frivolous patents.

Re:Finally (0, Redundant)

PeelBoy (34769) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980145)

[quote]changes to legislation is the only thing that can fix the problem of frivolous patents[/quote]

Sorry I already have a patent on that.

Re:Finally (1)

BluBrick (1924) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980523)

I wonder if it's possible to prevent frivolous patents by increasing the cost of patents. Perhaps they could institute a sliding scale for the cost of patents. e.g. For each patent applied for, the fee shall be $n for 1-10 patents held 10*$n for 11-50 patents held 100*$n for 51-100 patents held 1000*$n for 101-500 patents held 10000*$n for 501-1000 patents held 100000*$n for 1001-5000 patents held 1000000*$n for 5001-10000 patents held and so on... I don't know how much a patent application costs, but imagine that my base figure up there (n) is $500.00 Getting patents suddenly becomes VERY expensive by the time you have a lot of patents. Patent holders may, of course, reduce their patent count by voluntarily releasing the patent to the public domain. This would have many useful effects. Financially punishing patent squatters; preventing frivolous patents; scads of IP being released to the public domain; reducing the workload on the USPTO so that they might actually be able to investigate patents rather than just rubber-stamping them (as they seem to do); and allowing the little guy with a few good ideas to still have affordable patents. It's probably a slightly simplistic view, but it seems like a good place to start. What do y'all think?

idiot (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980587)

inside 10 seconds I thought : hmm, it's cheaper to spin off a new company and let them patent 1-10 patents.

Re:Finally (2, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980593)

the problem with this is patents main goal is to protect little guys who come up with a good idea and want to stop someone else stealing it.

increasing the cost of something will never stop companys with GDP's larger then many countries. you think a million dollars for a patent on a crop is a problem? fuck bio research companys SHIT $1000000 bricks, they will view it as a minor cost.

the only way to prevent frivolous patents, is to put a very short time frame on profiting from a patent. say i come up with an idea for the wear it all night condom. i have 2 years to turn more then $20,000 profit from my idea, or it's out in the public domain for someone else to have a crack out. this works because even if some asshole patents this, we can just wait them out, knowing their just patent squating and the moment their 2 years is up it's open season. If i CAN turn a profit on it, then it's obvious that i'm doing something with the idea, hence deserve it.

A great step, but only a small battle won.... (5, Insightful)

Bananatree3 (872975) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980071)

Monopolies are at best bad for the market, and at worst bad for Humanity. In this case, Monsanto's monopolizing has caused a lot of grief for many traditional farmers who save the previous year's crop seeds [i-sis.org.uk] . This kind of thing really makes me sick.

Re:A great step, but only a small battle won.... (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19980203)

To be fair not all of it is the fault of the monopoly, it's US law that any openly traded company has to maximize profits for it's share holders, I'm not certain of the exact wording of the law, but I'm quite sure it's ruthless. Now I'm not saying that monopolies are by and large a good thing, but they could have their place, just not with current laws and practices how they are

Re:A great step, but only a small battle won.... (0, Flamebait)

arth1 (260657) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980211)

I wouldn't call them traditional farmers if they grow GM crops.
The traditional farmers are in my opinion those who grow traditional crops, not frankenfood.

Re:A great step, but only a small battle won.... (3, Insightful)

3.5 stripes (578410) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980243)

The problem is that the frankenfood spreads pollen just like the normal plants, you can't filter pollen outdoors.

Re:A great step, but only a small battle won.... (5, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980265)

True, and it's clearly the responsibility of those who DO sell and grow GM food to prevent it from spreading. If they can't do that, why then they should not be allowed to grow it.

(Allowing sexually reproductive GM life in the first place seems to me to be a Very Bad Idea.)

Re:A great step, but only a small battle won.... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19980415)

Creating life has long been considered a bad move.

Re:A great step, but only a small battle won.... (4, Insightful)

logicnazi (169418) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980517)

Really? Why?

Why isn't it the responsibility of the non-GM crops to prevent their pollen from fertilizing the GM farmers crops? If I breed a new strain of corn using traditional techniques is it my responsibility to make sure that doesn't fertilize anyone else's corn as well?

Don't get me wrong I agree that GM crops should require more extensive testing before they are declared safe but the idea that they can never be declared safe is just absurd. Of course we can't ever know something won't hurt us but that doesn't stop us from making reasonable calculations about risk. Of course biotech companies shouldn't be allowed to shut down a farmer just because his crops happened to get pollinated by GM material (I have no idea if this really happens) but that's just saying that we should treat GM crops sanely.

Any chance from the past is a risk whether it is faster computers (they might take over!!) or a new variety of crops. Dogmatically insisting that no type of GM crop could ever be safe enough to be worth the risk of letting it's pollen out into the wild is just silly.

In other words what's wrong with just deciding about each GM crop on a case by case basis using the best available science at the time (including the certainty we have in that science)?

Re:A great step, but only a small battle won.... (5, Insightful)

ray-auch (454705) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980677)

If I breed a new strain of corn using traditional techniques is it my responsibility to make sure that doesn't fertilize anyone else's corn as well?

Not normally - but then you aren't suing those others for having corn fertilized by your corn are you ?

If you use a water sprayer to irrigate your land, is it your responsibility to make sure the water doesn't go onto my land ? Probably not. However, if you spray onto my land and then sue me for using your water, I ought to be within my rights to tell you it _is_ your responsibility to keep your water on your land.

Re:A great step, but only a small battle won.... (4, Insightful)

misanthrope101 (253915) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980781)

Well, if GM crops push out non-GM owned by you on your own land, you can sue the designers. If someone's non-GM crops push out your GM crops, you can sue the designer. That would be God, per the 90% of the population that believes in Him. Good luck with that. I hear the appeals process leaves a bit to be desired.

Re:A great step, but only a small battle won.... (0, Flamebait)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980601)

It's not supposed to be reproductive, it's supposed to be barren so they can sell you more seeds, but it turns out they aren't as good at genetics as they try and make us believe.

"Allowing" credits them with Godness.

Re:A great step, but only a small battle won.... (5, Insightful)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980547)

frankenfood
Frankenfood? You mean food that doesn't need to be sprayed with (as much) pesticide because it's biologically resistant to insects?

Genetic engineers notice an organism that does something that would be useful in another organism. If possible they isolate the protein(s) that create the useful effect. They then isolate the DNA that expresses that protein. They then insert that DNA into the other organism, and the protein is subsequently produced in the other organism.

Genetic engineering is just a way of putting useful proteins from one organism into another. Agriculture on a modern scale doesn't stand a chance without either genetic engineering or massive amounts of fertilizer and pesticide.

Genetic engineering isn't "natural", but then again agriculture itself isn't "natural". If you consider genetic engineering a "frankenfood" what about the walking udders, walking fur coats, unnaturally sized fruits, bizarre inbred wolves, etc, etc. Just because that genetic engineering was done with artificial selection doesn't make it any less natural.

If you want natural; starve, along with the billions of others that this planet couldn't naturally support. I have no idea what people have against genetic engineering. (Though I completely understand anti-Monsanto sentiment of course)

Re:A great step, but only a small battle won.... (1)

tropicdog (811766) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980637)

Thank you! You have typed very eloquently. Someone mod this post up, +5 insightful!

MOD PARENT UP (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19980657)

Anti-GM crusaders are even worse than the anti-nuke crowd

Re:A great step, but only a small battle won.... (0, Troll)

Calinous (985536) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980697)

Poor bees die by the thousands trying to pollinate species genetically engineered to be insect resistant (in fact insect killers)

Re:A great step, but only a small battle won.... (5, Informative)

Slayer (6656) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980703)

Sorry dude, but Mosanto's crops don't work like that. Instead they made their crops resistant to a certain herbicide. Farmers who use their crops can use that herbicide (called roundup, also owned by Mosanto) without hurting their own crops.

It has been proven scientifically that genes can spread across species (doesn't happen often but does), so who's going to be responsible if bad herbs become resistant and would have to be weeded out manually ? You think the world can't support its populace (which is definitely not true. Starving is not causes by drought or poor harvest, it's caused by war and corrupt politicians in the countries affected). But we definitely will have a problem if decades of herbicide research go to waste because one greedy irresponsible company releases random genes out into our environment.

If Mosanto and their brethen cared about world hunger they wouldn't sue farmers for using grain that happened to have been fertilized with their GM pollen. At the moment it appears that GM is not bad by itself but it is unprofitable unless you employ highly questionable business tactics.

Re:A great step, but only a small battle won.... (2, Interesting)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980935)

Genetic engineering isn't "natural", but then again agriculture itself isn't "natural".
Don't be naive. The whole "genetic engineering is just another form of selective breeding" argument is pure bunk.

Genetic engineering enables changes that would take multiple generations to create and then even more generations to attain wide-spread use to happen in the span of a single generation.

So if a particular inbred line of "walking udders" were to product deficient milk, the damage would be very localized before it was noticed and corrected. But a particular line of genetically engineered corn might make it into every box of breakfast cereal in the country for a couple of years running before people notice that it is shrinking the pensis of our youth.

Re:A great step, but only a small battle won.... (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980617)

Traditional farmers here (UK) are few and far between, most farms here are owned by big business and have managers not farmers.

In turn they follow the dictat of the big supermarket chains - Asda (now owned by Wal-Mart) and Tesco (£1 in £4 pounds are spent at Tesco).

Re:A great step, but only a small battle won.... (2, Interesting)

Umbral Blot (737704) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980535)

I hate to be a jerk, but I have to question why the farmers just don't stick to their traditional crops (versus the GM versions) if Monsanto is so horrible. Not one is forcing them to buy GM seeds (they could have kept saving and resuing their old seeds forever, without having to buy anything from Monsanto). So either buying Monsanto seeds isn't a losing deal (i.e. the farmers still make more money than they would have otherwise) or the farmers have poor judgement. Am I missing something?

Re:A great step, but only a small battle won.... (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980581)

There have been cases where farmers who didn't think they were growing Monsanto GM crops were rather shocked to find that actually, they were. Cross-pollination from a neighbours field, see.

This didn't stop Monsanto from suing such farmers into the ground.

Re:A great step, but only a small battle won.... (1)

Umbral Blot (737704) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980715)

I agree with you that that is a misuse of patents, my comment was directed at the compaint that Monsanto doesn't allow farmers to save the seeds.

Re:A great step, but only a small battle won.... (4, Insightful)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980583)

The output of the GM crops are that much better. Thats why. When you spend X dollars to plant on the finite amounts of land you have control over and can plant the GM crops that not only increase yields by 30+ percent but cut cost on the X figures by needing less chemicals or pesticides the amount of monetary advantage they present is almost insane.

The people who are using the regular crops are traditionalist or people who see a use/market for the crops. Most of the people I know who are against the GM crops and are actually farmers are in that position because of the contracts and not any perceived threats from the genetic managment of the seeds. They don't like the idea of having to pay extra for seeds if they have a bad year.

Re:A great step, but only a small battle won.... (1)

Umbral Blot (737704) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980707)

If what you say is true (and that's basically what I thought) then the farmers don't really have any room to complain (minus the misuse of patents of course). If they are making more money by using GM crops even if they have to repurchase seeds regularly then they are better off. And if seed costs are too high then they could go back to non-GM crops. So it seems like the farmers are complaining just because they can't do things the way they used to and that they can't make even more money, which seems like an unjustified complaint if using GM is really a net gain (its like complaining that the things I bought could have been cheaper, and that it isn't fair that the store marks up their prices).

short-sighted (4, Interesting)

misanthrope101 (253915) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980763)

If GM crops nudge out the conventional ones, eventually we'll be in a position where a company can starve millions of people to death at will. Legally. And since capitalism essentially equates morality with legality and profitability, who will really argue with them? People really, really need to watch The Corporation [amazon.com] . I'm all about making a buck, but we really, really need re re-evaluate what we let corporations get away with. Do even the most materialistic among us really want a private corporation owning not only the food, but the capacity of the plants to reproduce?

Re:A great step, but only a small battle won.... (1)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980807)

The people who are using the regular crops are traditionalist or people who see a use/market for the crops.

Or people who wish to export their crops outside north america.

Feudalism... (4, Informative)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980799)

I hate to be a jerk, but I have to question why the farmers just don't stick to their traditional crops (versus the GM versions) if Monsanto is so horrible. Not one is forcing them to buy GM seeds (they could have kept saving and resuing their old seeds forever, without having to buy anything from Monsanto). So either buying Monsanto seeds isn't a losing deal (i.e. the farmers still make more money than they would have otherwise) or the farmers have poor judgement. Am I missing something?
It seems to me that a lot of them are pretty much suckered into it. They are made to think that this is the latest thing in modern agriculture and that it will benefit them with higher crop yields and thus higher profit margins. To people who are often already having trouble turning a profit this is hard to refuse. Not that is easy to get your hands on unmodified seed stock any more. To add insult to injury even if you inadvertently planted GM seeds you are also fucked. To quote TFA:

American farmers are hard pushed to find high quality, conventional varieties of corn, soy and cottonseed. Anecdotal evidence supports this. Troy Roush, an Indiana soybean farmer says, "You can't even purchase them in this market. They are not available." Similar reports come from the corn and cotton farmers who say, "There are not too many seeds available that are not genetically altered in some way.".....

.....Farmers are under pressure to confirm their identity as modern agriculturalists, particularly in developing countries. But replacing the traditional strategy of saving and replanting seeds from diverse varieties by a patented seed with all its restrictions threatens food security at household and global levels......
 
.....A further example is seed dealers who sell seeds in plain brown bags so farmers sow them unknowingly. This happened to Farmer Thomason who was harassed into court by Monsanto and sued for over a million dollars. He had no choice but to file for bankruptcy despite never intending to plant Bt cotton.
Here's another choice quote:

Researchers at the University of Manitoba, Canada tested 33 samples of certified canola (oilseed rape) seed stock and 32 were contaminated with GM. The Union of Concerned Scientists tested traditional US seed stocks of corn, soy and canola and found 50% corn, 50% soy and 83% canola contaminated by GM.

One hundred percent purity is no longer achievable, and even if non-contaminated seed could be purchased, some contamination can take place in the field either by transfer of seed by wind, animals or via farm equipment.

Monsanto dominates the sale of seed stocks yet puts the onus of finding markets for crops on the farmer. Within their contract is the "Technology Use Guide" which gives directions on how to find grain handlers willing to accept crops not approved for use in the EU. While Monsanto acknowledges that pollen flow and seed movement are sufficient to contaminate neighbouring non-GM fields their implicit rule is that "the growers of the non-GM crops must assume responsibility and receive the benefit for ensuring that their crops meet specifications for purity.".....
 
.....Outcomes of lawsuits brought by Monsanto against farmers are mostly kept under wraps. If farmers are tempted to breach confidentiality they can face fines greater than the settlements. But where judgments have been publicly recorded, sizeable payments benefit not only Monsanto, but also partner companies.

Combined financial penalties have forced many farmers into bankruptcy and off their land. Agriculture is suffering losses all around because of the disappearance of foreign markets. The US Farm Bureau estimates that farmers lose over $300 million a year because European markets refuse GM corn. The US State Department says that as much as $4 billion could be lost in agricultural exports due to EU labelling and traceability requirements. Organic and conventional farmers alike have lost their premium markets through having no choice but to sell their contaminated crops into GM crop streams.
Which basically means that nobody at Monsanto bothers to tell farmers that once they are planting GM seeds they are effectively locked out of not just the EU market but any other market that bans GM crops or requires labeling and traceability. And the best part of it is (from Monsanto's point of view) that there is a nifty 'spill-over' effect on neighboring farmers who plant non-GM crops since due to cross pollination and other genetic pollution soruces their non-GM crops still end up being contaminated enough for these non-GM farmers to be shut out of the EU market. Non prizes for guessing who is standing by with a great deal on GM seeds when these non-GM farmers finally run out of money and find them selves on the rim of bankruptcy due to genetic polltion. From Monsanto's point of view it's all the non-GM farmer's own fault for taking no measures to prevent genetic pollution. What the fuck are the non-GM and organic farmers in the USA supposed to do? Build a glass dome over their land? The EU stance on GM crops isn't going to change because it isn't driven so much by protectionism as it's being driven by the electorate in EU nations who want these rules and who are highly suspicious of GM foods. EU politicians are unlikely to object (here comes the protectionism angle) since they have found restrictions on GM crop imports to be a convenient tool (due to the ease with which non-GM crops get contaminated) to curtail US Agricultural imports and protect their own farmers. The genetic pollution problem, however, is only going to get bigger every time Monsanto signs up a new farmer which means that as more countries adopt the same stance as the EU does on GM crops, losses to US Agriculture are only going to grow. This situation only benefits only Monsanto, its allies+shareholders and the politicians Monsanto bribed^W lobbied into allowing them to set up this scam.

Re:A great step, but only a small battle won.... (5, Insightful)

jimicus (737525) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980565)

Monopolies are at best bad for the market

The whole point of a patents system is limited monopolies to help the market. Without such a system, there's nothing stopping me from spending 10 years in a shed developing a revolutionary new vacuum cleaner, bringing it to market - and then you waltzing into a shop, buying one, copying it and selling it for half the price I do.

The point of a capitalist society is that the "10 years in a shed" bit gets rewarded with a time-limited monopoly, so instead of simply putting up with the status quo and accepting that all vacuum cleaners suck (if you'll pardon the pun), I have an incentive to do something about it above and beyond "making my house 4% cleaner".

Where monopolies do harm the market is where the system is abused. The obvious solution to that is a system which isn't terribly open to abuse. Many of today's patent laws were put together at a time when nobody imagined that a company might patent a genetically modified seed and then sue farmers for saving some from last years' crop for this year, or that a huge economy around software (which changes far faster than many other fields of innovation, and is thus not well served by 15-20 year monopolies) would develop.

Mod Point Time! (0)

pimpimpim (811140) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980591)

Good stuff at Parent's post, shame I just used up mine ....

Re:A great step, but only a small battle won.... (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980671)

Ok, we've seen it from their perspective, now can they see it from ours?

Why is that we, as consumers, have to put up with one company's product having great feature X and another company's product having great feature Y but no company's product having both X and Y because of patents?

In a market without patents the motivation to innovate is greater as only new innovations are profitable. A company's product is not measured by how many improvements they "own" but by how many improvements they come up with in a year. Eventually the product will be "perfect" and companies can compete on price and service and all those other things that matter too.

Re:A great step, but only a small battle won.... (3, Insightful)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980733)

I can't think of any product which has Y and would really benefit from X but doesn't have it. In any case in that scenario the maker of product Y would license the patent for X so that they could use it in their product and the consumer would get what they want. This is why you can have MP3 players in one unit rather than companies selling the battery, the headphones, the decoder chip, the circuit boards all seperately.

In a market without patents any new innovations or products would immediately be ripped off by the biggest company with the most money and manufacturing power and the original inventor would be screwed. Pretty soon people wouldn't share their inventions any more if they could actually keep the workings secret and if they couldn't they have trouble making any money from them so in the end no one would really bother.

Re:A great step, but only a small battle won.... (1)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980769)

>>nobody imagined that a company might patent a genetically modified seed and then sue farmers for saving some from last years' crop for this year

This has nothing to do with a patent; it's a licensing issue. Farmers want to continue doing business in the "old ways" while reaping the benefits of new tech. Also, note that this is an Agribusiness vs. Chemical Company issue. Both sides are equally evil.

>>a huge economy around software (which changes far faster than many other fields of innovation, and is thus not well served by 15-20 year monopolies) would develop.

You don't know what may or may not need 10+ years to turn a profit. Yes, Widget X probably could deal with a 18-month patent process. But if you spend 5 years writing some wiz-bang new applet, then you need time to recoup your expenses.

Think about virtualization. If you introduced something revolutionary, you'd be pissed if Zen or VMWare just waited 18 months to copy it. Ir if you developed a new compression algorithm.

We don't know what will be released tomorrow. Something released in 12 months might be so revolutionary that the creator deserves 14+ years to recoup his expenses.

Speaking of patent reform, read about Velcro. The guy "created" velcro and then major textile companies just waited for it to expire and then they copied it.

Re:A great step, but only a small battle won.... (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980845)

Speaking of patent reform, read about Velcro. The guy "created" velcro and then major textile companies just waited for it to expire and then they copied it.

Patents take years to expire for a reason.

The idea is to give time to market it. Clearly the major textile companies didn't think it would give them much of a business benefit - so the guy who created velcro has the task not only of inventing a product, but also finding someone who wants to buy it badly enough that they'll license his patent - or build it into a product to sell to the general public.

Let's look at this from another perspective. James Dyson has spent a lot of time and money suing companies for copying aspects of his vacuum cleaner - when it first came out, it genuinely was revolutionary and gave his product a definite edge over his competitors - but he's won those cases, and he did spend something like 10 years in his shed designing his vacuum cleaner.

Re:A great step, but only a small battle won.... (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980851)

Monopolies are at best bad for the market
The whole point of a patents system is limited monopolies to help the market.
Thanks for telling us all what we learned in high-school. However, the OP's point was that what we learned in high-school is often not necessarily the case in the real world.

Without such a system, there's nothing stopping me from spending 10 years in a shed developing a revolutionary new vacuum cleaner, bringing it to market - and then you waltzing into a shop, buying one, copying it and selling it for half the price I do.
What you are describing is one particular market scenario, one that requires very strong government intervention in order to function. You should not assume that in any way shape or form said scenario is the only possible market scenario. For example - without patents, people would be forced to recoup their "10 years in the shed" during that limited market window between when their product makes it to market and when the competition shows up.

Surely some inventions would be impractical in that scenario, but on the other hand, the incentive to continuing inventing at a pace rapid enough to stay ahead of the competition would be much increased over the current patent-based one. Also the incentive to compete secondary attributes like manufacturing quality would be increased. In addition, the current patent system clearly retards the development of certain inventions too, so it would be foolish to argue that the current system is at all "perfect" even if there were no 'abuse.'

Re:A great step, but only a small battle won.... (1)

go_to2 (946644) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980829)

Patents do not equal monopolies. Patents should be about novel things, and if something is truly novel, there is no market for it to begin with, let alone monopolized markets. Think about it.

Wont somebody think of the farmers... (1)

spyder-implee (864295) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980079)

Please!

mirror request (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980095)

anyone have a mirror? either pubpat has just been slashdotted or the link doesn't seem to work.

I read up on this company monsantore and it sounds like they're denying scientific fact that shows that the products they create are harmful for animal and human consumption. I'm just checking, was I inferring correct or am I misreading? I'm not a "save the world" kind of guy but isn't the whole point of getting something natural to, well, at least try to create things More natural as opposed to less?

Re:mirror request (0)

sg_oneill (159032) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980133)

modX. Gorgeous little CMS, but anything with that much ajax is going to bleed a mysql server to death.

Also HOORAY! Monsanto are evil bastards. I wonder if this'll translate for the little farmer dudes in poorer places like india where the patent systems killing traditional seed-saving practices and putting farmers under.

Long live the little guy.

Re:mirror request (1)

tropicdog (811766) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980609)

Oh quit with the "killing the little farmer in India who saves back seed rather than using hybrid seed." routine.
One of the reasons the little farmer who saves back some seed for next year is poor is because the seed he saves back doesn't perform as well as hybrid or modified seeds. It's the nature of hybrid vigor also known as heterosis. If you're not familiar with the terms or concept, look it up on Wikipedia or Google.
I'm not an apologist for mega-corp agriculture companies. I don't whole-heartedly agree with what's going on with agriculture today. Legislation, farm programs and politics over the past 25-30 years have probably played more of a role in today's situation than the scientists.
People (not directing this at you) who use the term "frankenfood" are just showing how uninformed they really are about the food they eat.
Many, if not most, of the traits that have been developed in genetically modified crops address most of the issues all the frantic uninformed people rant on and on about. Genetically Modified (GM) crops typically have natural traits such as higher yield per plant; higher nutritional content; resistance to disease, drought, pests and chemicals introduced or usually just enhanced. "Genetically Modified" DOES NOT ALWAYS equate with "inserted genes from a bacteria into a pineapple" sort of thing. If more people realized that the goals of hybrid and GM crops are actually working towards more food availability for the world population, it would be a good thing.
More food for the population is one thing but politics and logistics of food distribution is another subject all it's own.
The "modified" portion of "genetically modified" usually is in reference to speeding up the process of bringing out desirable traits by injecting desirable genes rather than strictly using traditional breeding methods. Yes, sometimes it does mean introducing genes from other plant or animal species.
Crops that are enhanced to be drought resistant for example, can result in a more dependable crop for the local population. The "little farmer in India" can raise more of their own crop and be less dependent on foreign imports. Disease, pest and chemical resistance means that fewer chemicals need to be used to ensure a better crop. That's good for the environment and the people.
Personally I'm glad to hear Monsanto is getting hit on this, yes, they have not been playing nice with farmers for years. Good to hear that some of "what goes around , comes around."

Re:mirror request (1)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980683)

Well said, the problem here is not genetically modified food but the behaviour of Monsanto. Unfortunately some people tend to confuse the two.

I can understand Monsanto trying to protect their income but it sounds to me like they're being totally unreasonable with a lot of the action they're currently taking.

Re:mirror request (3, Informative)

sodul (833177) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980139)

Not a mirror but a short article on the case here [prnewswire.com] .

Re:mirror request (4, Informative)

eclectro (227083) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980279)

Here is another article [commercialappeal.com] to tide you over until the tech details are available again. It seems that they are centered around the roundup ready seeds.

Re:mirror request (3, Informative)

indy_Muad'Dib (869913) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980511)

years ago Monsanto actually got Fox News to kill a story about the adverse effects of BGH (Bovine Growth Hormone) in Humans.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axU9ngbTxKw [youtube.com]

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&safe=off&sa=X&o i=spell&resnum=0&ct=result&cd=1&q=monsanto+BGH+fox +news&spell=1 [google.com]

http://www.foxbghsuit.com/ [foxbghsuit.com]

the reporters got shit canned for it and Monsanto protected their bottom line.

Milk is very bad for you with all this BGH in it.

Causes Cancer.

Not done yet (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19980141)

Rejections can be overcome by amending the claims. Also, rejections can be appealed multiple levels, delaying this for several more years.

Patents on life are STUPID. (4, Insightful)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980143)

Patenting / copyright / other methods to articifially control something being copied are STUPID when applied to an entity who's sole purpose is to make copies of itself.

Re:Patents on life are STUPID. (2, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980219)

Heh, attempting to turn any non-rivalrous good into a rivalrous good is doomed to failure.

Just Hope it Stays Patents (1)

logicnazi (169418) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980545)

Purpose? Bacteria don't have a purpose they just do what they do. Besides, suppose a company finally succeded in creating a 3d printer capable of printing itself. Would that really make it suddenly unworthy of patent protection.

This is all irrelevant to the question that matters: Is the harm caused by giving one company a monopoly worth the benefits gained from incentivizing research. Now likely this calculation comes out against patents on naturally occurring genes since it is likely to encourage blanket patenting without real research but I don't see any different between patenting instructions for the biological machines in our cells and for the silicon machines in our computers.

So long as we can keep people form patenting obvious DNA sequences it seems like a reasonable policy to me. I just hope they don't take the analogy with software too far and start copyrighting DNA sequences. Then we would have the same mess as we do in the computer field where a fundamentally functional item gets protection for 75+ years without even being forced to reveal the internal workings. Maybe we will get lucky and the net effect will be to take software from copyright protection and put it under patent protection (this is not the same as software patents).

Re:Just Hope it Stays Patents (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980631)

In regards to the 3d printer.. if it can print anything then it can print physical objects with DRM built in. The result?

Second Life.

(aka, a nightmare of artificial scarcity).

Re:Just Hope it Stays Patents (2)

nagora (177841) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980645)

Purpose? Bacteria don't have a purpose they just do what they do.

I think it's a given that the purpose of any biological system is to reproduce; mules are a freak.

I don't see any different between patenting instructions for the biological machines in our cells and for the silicon machines in our computers.

Indeed: patenting software is a bad idea whatever the context.

Maybe we will get lucky and the net effect will be to take software from copyright protection and put it under patent protection

That's the sort of luck the world can do without. Patent duration would be extended to 100+ years within a month.

TWW

Re:Just Hope it Stays Patents (1)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980701)

Purpose? Bacteria don't have a purpose they just do what they do. Besides, suppose a company finally succeded in creating a 3d printer capable of printing itself. Would that really make it suddenly unworthy of patent protection.

Replace purpose with "biological imperative" and your printer analogy breaks down.

That's why standard IP law shouldn't apply - who's the 'distributor' if something copies itself without human intervention?

Basmati rice got patented by US company... (1)

fantomas (94850) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980775)

http://www.biotech-info.net/basmati_patent.html [biotech-info.net]

Grown in India for hundreds of years, now the rights to grow it in the USA are owned by a US company. You grow it in USA, you have to pay the patent owning company. How can such behaviour be permitted? Your system is really broken.

well, (1)

hxnwix (652290) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980199)

I, for one, welcome our emasculated overlords.

Patents in question (4, Informative)

evanbd (210358) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980247)

5164316: DNA construct for enhancing the efficiency of transcription

5196525: DNA construct for enhancing the efficiency of transcription

5322938: DNA construct for enhancing the efficiency of transcription

5352605: Chimeric genes for transforming plant cells using viral promoters

Yes, the first three have the same title. I haven't read any of them yet. You can find the full text on the USPTO web site. Search by patent number here [uspto.gov] .

Excerpt (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19980325)

I couldn't access the article. But here's an excerpt from the executive
summary from centerforfoodsafety.org:

Startling though these numbers are, they do not begin to tell the whole
story. Many farmers have to pay additional court and attorney fees and are
sometimes even forced to pay the costs Monsanto incurs while investigating
them. Final monetary awards are not available for a majority of the 90 lawsuits
CFS researched due to the confidential nature of many of the settlements.
No farmer is safe from the long reach of Monsanto. Farmers have
been sued after their field was contaminated by pollen or seed from someone
else's genetically engineered crop; when genetically engineered seed from a
previous year's crop has sprouted, or "volunteered," in fields planted with
non-genetically engineered varieties the following year; and when they
never signed Monsanto's technology agreement but still planted the patented
crop seed. In all of these cases, because of the way patent law has been
applied, farmers are technically liable. It does not appear to matter if the use
was unwitting or a contract was never signed.

Second try (5, Informative)

jeti (105266) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980341)

Sorry. Missed a paragraph when pasting. Here's the relevant text:

The largest recorded judgment made thus far in favor of Monsanto as
a result of a farmer lawsuit is $3,052,800.00. Total recorded judgments
granted to Monsanto for lawsuits amount to $15,253,602.82. Farmers have
paid a mean of $412,259.54 for cases with recorded judgments.
Startling though these numbers are, they do not begin to tell the whole
story. Many farmers have to pay additional court and attorney fees and are
sometimes even forced to pay the costs Monsanto incurs while investigating
them. Final monetary awards are not available for a majority of the 90 lawsuits
CFS researched due to the confidential nature of many of the settlements.
No farmer is safe from the long reach of Monsanto. Farmers have
been sued after their field was contaminated by pollen or seed from someone
else's genetically engineered crop; when genetically engineered seed from a
previous year's crop has sprouted, or "volunteered," in fields planted with
non-genetically engineered varieties the following year; and when they
never signed Monsanto's technology agreement but still planted the patented
crop seed. In all of these cases, because of the way patent law has been
applied, farmers are technically liable. It does not appear to matter if the use
was unwitting or a contract was never signed.

Can the farmers sue back now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19980441)

At least the ones who had to pay for these patents?

The impact is much bigger in India... (4, Insightful)

jkrise (535370) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980337)

70% of the Indian population is dependant on agriculture for their livelihood - it was closer to 80% a few decades ago. Monsanto has tied up with Indian companies, and it's business practices have driven several hundreds of farmers to debts and suicide. BT (Biologically Treated) cotton from Mahyco (if I remember right) has caused havoc in farmers' lives in several Indian states.

Monsanto specialises in technologies that make farmers dependant on these firms every year for seeds and patented techniques. Not only should such patents be outlawed; it should be made a crime to work against nature and create genetic modifications that prevent seeds from germinating.

Re:The impact is much bigger in India... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19980385)

Monsanto specialises in technologies that make farmers dependant on these firms every year for seeds and patented techniques. Not only should such patents be outlawed; it should be made a crime to work against nature and create genetic modifications that prevent seeds from germinating.

I dare say you haven't thought this through. Sterile organisms are used in legitimate science all the time, and for a lot of reasons. For example, fruit fly populations in some places are controlled by introducing large numbers of sterilized males; or in testing genetically modified crops, sterilized seeds have a much lower risk of being accidentally introduced into the wild.

Re:The impact is much bigger in India... (2, Informative)

jkrise (535370) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980423)

Sterile organisms are used in legitimate science all the time, and for a lot of reasons. For example, fruit fly populations in some places are controlled by introducing large numbers of sterilized males; or in testing genetically modified crops, sterilized seeds have a much lower risk of being accidentally introduced into the wild.
 

I feel there are so many other techniques, that are even more effective in producing desired results you have stated above - without genetically inducing sterility.

In any case, Monsanto's modus operandi is to introduce a BT variety of a seed, and claim it generates 30% more yield than normal varieties. But the catch is that seeds cannot be re-used, and the claims of increased yield are often spurious. Worse, these genetic strains propogate through pollen, affecting crops which were raised traditionally.

We aren't talking about fruit-flies and pests, we are talking about cash crops, commercial crops and livelihoods - not only of this generation, but posterity.

Re:The impact is much bigger in India... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19980529)

Ah, Hell. Ignore my other post [slashdot.org] , blame it on Slashdot's posting filter. I didn't see your response.

I feel there are so many other techniques, that are even more effective in producing desired results you have stated above - without genetically inducing sterility.

You "feel" there are other techniques? Well, what are they? Can they be abused in a similar manner? That being the case, wouldn't it make more sense to ban these specific abusive behaviors?

What you propose is the equivalent of banning hex editors, because evil hackers will use them for nefarious purposes: well-intentioned, but poorly considered.

Re:The impact is much bigger in India... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19980447)

But then again, if you go off about "tampering with nature" or whatever, you probably don't think much of genetic engineering in the first place...

Re:The impact is much bigger in India... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19980389)

Why is parent modded Flamebait? WhineyMacFanboy has said pretty much the same thing - but that has been modded Insightful!

Will mods get a clue?

Re:The impact is much bigger in India... (1)

Umbral Blot (737704) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980487)

Patents aside that's just how captialism works, if you can make money creating seeds that don't germinate then someone will. Trying to regulate that away just isn't going to work, for example it might scare companies away from making genetically modified crops, and with our growing population (world wide) we desperately need more and better genetically modified crops. Instead of complaining take a page from the open source movement: make your own genetically modified crops and don't prevent them from reproducing, thus making them effectivelly free. I know, that's hard to do, but many people feel the same way about software (that it is too hard for anyone to do for free) and that didn't stop the open source movement.

Re:The impact is much bigger in India... (1)

jkrise (535370) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980569)

Patents aside that's just how captialism works

Captialism is not the answer for all problems facing humanity. In fact, many of the most keenly felt problems afflicting humankind are a direct result of capitalism. People do not die for lack of capital, millions die every year for want of seeds (food).

if you can make money creating seeds that don't germinate then someone will.
If it is made a capital offence to do so, that would be an effective deterrent.

Trying to regulate that away just isn't going to work, for example it might scare companies away from making genetically modified crops, and with our growing population (world wide) we desperately need more and better genetically modified crops.

Genetic modification is a very recent phenomenon, whereas humankind has been thriving with techniques that have thrived for millennia. Farmers in India have demonstrated much higher yields through practices like Organic Farming, and the use of Panchakavya (look it up on Google, if you will). Genetic modification is not the only answer to raising crop quality and quantity, it is also the most risk-prone in the long term, and unproven.

Instead of complaining take a page from the open source movement: make your own genetically modified crops and don't prevent them from reproducing, thus making them effectivelly free.

And I thought only Car Analogies were bad! To respond anyway, Genetic Modification and Closed Source propriatary software have things in common - they create scarcity where there is none, hinder progress and innovation, benefit fewer people, promote distrust and secrecy, cause headaches and crash often. None of these are desirable traits for all but a very smnall fraction of humanity.

I know, that's hard to do, but many people feel the same way about software (that it is too hard for anyone to do for free) and that didn't stop the open source movement.

Your analogy breaks down because of a phenomenon known as Cross Pollination. Waaaaitttt!!! I think you've hit on something. Cross Pollination between Open and Closed Software might produce highly undesirable consequences - so much so Mr. Stallman & co. had to create a new license to break the unholy Microsoft-Novell alliance.

Re:The impact is much bigger in India... (1)

Umbral Blot (737704) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980675)

Well if we don't need GM crops then its a mystery to me as to why farmers are buying them if the conditions attached suck so much. Again, from a free market standpoint if GM crops were a losing position then you wouldn't expect people to buy them, unless we absolutely needed them. Secondly, making certain forms of genetic engineering a crime is absurd, not just for free market reasons. It undermines the rule of law to make things crimes which aren't a form of one party befenitting unethically at the expense of another. That's what the patent lawsuits involved, but not the design of the crops. Because, as I mentioned, no one is putting a gun to anyone's head and forcing them to buy them. So getting the law to step in and say what kind of genetic engineering you can and can't do (outside stuff that is unsafe) is a bit like the law trying to say what you can and can't say or paint (limitations on what is essentially a creative act); in my opinion people have a right to create whatever they want (as a form of freedom of expression), so long as it isn't dangerous.

Re:The impact is much bigger in India... (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980623)

"with our growing population (world wide) we desperately need more and better genetically modified crops."

Evidence please?

So far the figures indicate that there's more than enough food being produced (some estimates indicate 17%, but you can see here: http://www.fao.org/docrep/x0262e/x0262e05.htm [fao.org] and not everyone needs 2700 calories ), the main problem is corrupt governments and distribution.

There's still plenty of arable land (and ocean) to grow food on if we need to expand.

Organic farms also produce plenty of food in 3rd world countries - they're just not all of one sort of food and labour intensive (but labour is cheap in those places).

Plus the fishing industry has this EXTREMELY wasteful "bycatch" thing: http://www.fao.org/DOCREP/003/T4890E/T4890E03.htm [fao.org]
You have a shrimp trawler throwing away > 80% of their catch (which usually die soon) because it isn't shrimp, then you have the crab ones throwing away > 70% because it isn't crab, and then the tuna boats throw away stuff that isn't tuna.

That's TERRIBLE. Heck even if I don't finish all the food on my plate, I sure don't regularly throw away 60-80% of it. Fix that and you'll see there's PLENTY of food to go around.

The corporations like GM stuff because they can patent stuff and get monopolies. You do NOT want to give the likes of Monsanto even more control over stuff.

There is no real need for GM stuff at the moment, and the "popular direction" (led by companies that IMO are evil) sure doesn't look like it's going to be good for the world.

Re:The impact is much bigger in India... (2, Insightful)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980757)

Organic farms also produce plenty of food in 3rd world countries - they're just not all of one sort of food and labour intensive (but labour is cheap in those places).


I think the goal is that people don't have to live as cheap labourers working the land all day, this sort of work is not actually much fun and uses up people who could be working in factories and industry modernising the country and bringing all the benefits of cheap power, mass industrialisation, improved communications and travel.

Looks like they can't keep up their pledge... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19980347)

On their webpage they have a link to a letter from the CEO about the Monsanto Pledge:

http://www.monsanto.com/monsanto/layout/our_pledge /letter_grant.asp [monsanto.com]

An interesting quote from the letter:
"Obviously, we still have challenges. They include how to secure our intellectual property in parts of the world where the legal protection is not yet mature."

Could farmers turn the tables? (3, Insightful)

beanless (1132589) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980395)

I've read reports of farmers being sued by Monsanto because their crops get contaminated by GM strains via wind, animals, or farm equipment. Could the farmers sue Monsanto for polluting their crops' gene pool?

Re:Could farmers turn the tables? (4, Insightful)

cliffski (65094) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980449)

in theory maybe, but farmers tend not to have the kind of finances or legal muscle required to take on a corporate entity the size of monsanto.
Really, it should be the governments job to keep an eye on situations like this, but when the political parties are allowed to take corporate donations, the whole system is b0rked before you start.

Re:Could farmers turn the tables? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19980727)

Really, it should be the governments job to keep an eye on situations like this, but when the political parties are allowed to take corporate donations, the whole system is b0rked before you start.
Taking a political donation from a corporation, particularly international/multi-national corporations should be treated the same as taking a bribe from a foreign government. We need a movement in this country to shut down as completely as possible corporate backing of politicians.

Corporations have a long history of getting special treatment by the US government, including the government acting as enforcers for the corporations. Monsanto should have received a corporate death order years ago and many times over. Their is plenty around the web on the evils of Monsanto, they were killing people before most Slashdotters were even born and getting the federal government to help cover it up. Agent Orange and PCBs are just the tip of Monsanto's stack of bodies.

OT but karmically fitting: please type the word in this image: morbidly

Much alarmed (1)

psaunders (1069392) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980425)

My thoughts upon reading the heading for this story (no kidding):
1. How terrible! Those poor patients...
2. Where is Monsanto hospital?
3. What made them 'key' patients, exactly? Does that express favouritism, and if so, does it violate the triage system that is so important in modern medical practice?
4. Who is Pub Pat (and what kind of a name is that, anyway), and why would he or she do such a thing?

Naturally upon reading slightly lower, I realized how far off I was. Still, for a while, the story looked promising.

Two things (1)

future assassin (639396) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980499)

A million dollars and bankruptcy. I'd rather use that money to pay someone to perform some magical tricks to make certain individuals vanish then to pay the money out to some GM crop mafia.

From http://www.i-sis.org.uk/MonsantovsFarmers.php [i-sis.org.uk] >One hundred percent purity is no longer achievable, and even if non-contaminated seed could be purchased, some contamination can take place in the field either by transfer of seed by wind, animals or via farm equipment.

So If I was a farmer and saw some strange crop growing in my field could I charge Monsanto with trespassing or some kind of environmental pollution/contamination since their property is illegally growing on my land?

Why were the patents rejected? (1)

jeti (105266) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980649)

The articles concentrate on the way Monsanto (ab)used the patents.
Is there any mention why they were rejected?

Are they trivial?
Was there prior art?
Or were rejected because they were abused? (Is that possible?)

Company evilness correlates with amount of lawyers (1)

Wolf von Niflheim (945658) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980713)


Unfortunately the Pub Pat website is still suffering from connection problems so I couldn't read the full article. However, I am familiar with Monsantos actions. In a way Monsanto could be seen as the Microsoft of biotechnology: monopolizing, buying out smaller companies, shooting people down with patent claims, etc. The thing is that when companies become bigger (or gigantic as is the case with Monsanto) they start hiring additional lawyers. That's where it all goes wrong, the evilness of a company is positively correlated wit the amount of lawyers it has on its payroll.

Scientists do what scientists do: research stuff and build stuff while making a living on the side. Lawyers do what lawyers do: try to find every possible way to use laws and legislation to keep a company safe and have it generate money while making a living on the side.

The problem is that with a growing amount of lawyers a technology company starts gravitating away from its initial ideals and slowly changes into a Jabba the Hut like all consuming, greedy creature.

Actually, there are non-economic, patent related reasons why a plant biotech company would want to restrict seed access: containment. Although sufficiently tested GM seeds still hold a potential danger when used incorrectly. When a farmer is able to retain seeds of a GM crop, the crop is effectively out of control of the developing institute. The farmer could distribute the seeds and perhaps use them in an inappropriate manner. I don't want to point fingers here, but I'm pretty certain your average farmer does not have the expertise to assess the safety of working with a certain GM crop. This could lead to the uncontrolled spreading of GM crops into the wild without anyone knowing where, what and how many. This is basicaly a two front war: ecologists on the one side who want to control spreading of potentially hazardous GM crops in to the wild. And on the other side people who are against the fact that farmers of GM crops are tied to the manufacturers of said crops. But hey, biotech will never be the good guy (apart from medical biotech that is)

It is evident, that this "precaution principle" is severely misused by Monsanto and has to be controlled in some way. What originated as a biologically sound plan has become lawyer ammo. A sad day for science

Why Is Everyone Opposed To Biological Patents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19980737)

I do not understand why there is such opposition to biological patents. It is not as though Monsanto did not invest considerable time and effort to develop seed strains resistant to disease and various weather conditions. If Monsanto contends farmers are selling the seed Monsanto developed without doing the years of research and breeding required for the result, what are the farmers contributing to the development of these strains? Why should I as a stock holder not get the benefits of their research?

Monstrous (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19980749)

Everything about genetically modifying plants so they cannot reproduce, patenting the genes used to do this, then suing farmers that accidentally have those plants growing in their fields is simply monstrous.

There is no surer sign that humanity's future is grim than corporations owning the rights to plants that humans grow for subsistence.

They own the water, they own the mineral wealth, they own the forests, they own the food, they own everything there is to own.

Truly, truly monstrous. That's the only word I can think to use to describe the situation.

Monsanto is not your friend (5, Informative)

cromano (162540) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980771)

For an interesting look at the Monsanto history, GM foods, gene patenting, risks and impact across North America, I recommend you watch the documentary "The Future of Food" (torrent [isohunt.com] ).

Description:

THE FUTURE OF FOOD offers an in-depth investigation into the disturbing truth behind the unlabeled, patented, genetically engineered foods that have quietly filled U.S. grocery store shelves for the past decade.

From the prairies of Saskatchewan, Canada to the fields of Oaxaca, Mexico, this film gives a voice to farmers whose lives and livelihoods have been negatively impacted by this new technology. The health implications, government policies and push towards globalization are all part of the reason why many people are alarmed by the introduction of genetically altered crops into our food supply.

Shot on location in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, THE FUTURE OF FOOD examines the complex web of market and political forces that are changing what we eat as huge multinational corporations seek to control the world's food system. The film also explores alternatives to large-scale industrial agriculture, placing organic and sustainable agriculture as real solutions to the farm crisis today.

IMDB link. [imdb.com] ... and don't get me started on the "terminator gene".

-Sin Maíz no hay País-

Why Is There Such Opposition To Biological Patents (0, Troll)

LowlyWorm (966676) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980833)

I do not understand why there is such opposition to biological patents. Monsanto has spent the time and research to develop seed strains for disease and weather resistant crops. I feel they have a right to protect that investment. I see a lot of people shaking their fists complaining that Monsanto is bulling farmers. I live in a rural area. There are farmers here. I haven't seen that. Indeed, they likely benefit from the seed Monsanto sells. As a stock holder why should I not benefit from the advances they make?

Lots of people own it. It is disheartening to see that while we are willing to put our money where our mouth is, others just want to see Monsanto punished for their inovations.

patented closed source genetic kernel? (1)

m1h41 (1119765) | more than 7 years ago | (#19980889)

If we would have wide spread compilers, debuggers and IDEs for genetic code this would be just another software patent discussion, and Monsanto just another patent troll.

imagine building our own free open source genetic operating system... and then the posibilities....
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