Saturday, March 13, 2010

Who Wears The Genes in This House?

Monsanto, the most evil corporation on Earth if you have seen Food Inc., is currently in an antitrust suit with a bunch of states and companies. Again, all of this comes back to Monsanto's ownership of their RoundUp-Ready soybeans.

First off, Monsanto is not the most evil corporation in the world. They, like many other large companies, are taking advantage of a totally fucked patent, trademark, and copyright world to the detriment of, pretty much, everyone.

What's at issue is that Monsanto owns the genetics to the seeds, which means that if the seeds blow onto your land and grow, Monsanto owns those plants and any possible cross breeds that may arise.

This hasn't always been the case. Previously, it was understood that life could not be patented. This was generally recognized for moral reasons, but I have a different interpretation of the situation.

It has to do with what a patent does. Nominally, it provides a temporary monopoly on a product. It does not prevent people from owning something. For example, Eli Whitney makes the cotton gin. A competitor makes one illegally and sells it to me. I am now the owner of that cotton gin. Even if Eli sues his competitor, he cannot take the one that was already built away from me.

It is not a right of sale, since if Eli builds some cotton gins and sells them, I can lawfully sell them again. The only part left is manufacture. A patent is a monopoly on making the thing. Eli Whitney has the right of manufacture on cotton gins for a set time.

This cannot apply to life. Life is, by its nature, replicative. When a device is made that can reproduce itself, the maker relinquishes, by the very nature of their creation, the right of replication. A patent cannot logically apply. This would apply to any machine that replicates itself. If I create a robot that, when left to its own devices, wanders about, gathering materials, and builds a copy of itself, I cannot patent that.

It's absurd that life can be patented. Our legal system and the judges who allowed this should be ashamed and either throw themselves or be thrown off of a cliff. Morality need not be applied, it's logically nonsensical.

Change the law. Change it now. Life cannot be patented.

Monsanto’s Seed Patents May Trump Antitrust Claims (

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