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Genetically modified crops - February issue

Ben David b_david2 at netvision.net.il
Wed Feb 10 16:03:52 EST 1999

Wayne Parrott wrote:

> <deletia>
> > I was pointing out that, although I may have
> > potentially infringed on the original owner's (still debatable) IP rights, I
> > wasn't getting something for nothing, since I had invested money, care and labour
> > in growing the tomatoes.
> >
> IP protects new genetic combinations (traditional or otherwise) that are put together
> intentionally by a breeder and would not exist otherwise.  The protection accorded
> such varieties is analogous to copyrights.  As an example, think video tapes.  You can
> go to the rental store and rent a video tape of the latest movie, but you cannot make
> copies of the video and sell them..  I hope you would never argue that since you "had
> invested money, care and labour in" copying the videotapes, that you had a right to
> sell them.

(1) I buy oil paints from Winsor Newton, but they have no rights to the picture I create.
Growing plants is not as passive as watching a video (in fact, there's not much that's as
passive as watching a video...)
(2) There is well established legal precedent for the idea that certain things are the
common property of the community - even the community of humankind. The extension of legal
structures created to protect the two most "artificial" human endeavors (arti and
technology) to the most "natural" of processes (plant growth) is problematic.
(3) Most seed that breeds true is really a population of slightly varying genetic makeup.
So: I plant the seed company's seed, then select the strains that did best in my
microclimate. Voila - I am a plant breeder. Let them pay ME.


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