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Genetically modified crops - February issue

Alastair Rae arae at tertio.com.NOSPAM
Thu Feb 11 08:18:06 EST 1999


I'm told this has something to do with birdwatching. Perhaps someone
could explain what?
[uk.rec.birdwatching removed from crossposts]

> Wayne Parrott wrote:
> > (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...)
> 
> Your analogy is actually quite good.  In this case, the old varieties the plant breeders use
> as parents in their breeding programs are analogous to the oil paints you buy.  Once the
> breeders have put them together into new combinations (like you put the oil paints together to
> create a painting) the breeder-- not the owner of the old varieties, owns the end result,
> exactly like you would own the painting you would produce.
> 
> You don't infringe IP by growing the plant-- just like you do not infrige IP by watching a
> video or by looking at the painting you made.
> 
> However, if you harvest the seed and sell them for someone else to plant, you do infringe IP,
> just like you would if you copied the video you had rented.  Likewise, someone who
> photographed your painting and started selling the prints without your permission is equally
> in infringement.
> 
> > (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.
> 
> The Rio Treaty recognized this, and now the community source of the parental materials is
> starting to be granted some ownership rights to anything developed with their germplasm.
> 
> Above and beyond that, the natural process of plant growth is not what is being protected as
> IP.  It is a new combination of genes which were intentionally put together that is being
> protected.
> 
> > (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.
> 
> Again, this is not that far off from what can happen.  At least here in the US, a breeder must
> introduce or change more than just one gene to qualify for IP, but the threshhold is low.
> 
> > Ben

--
Alastair Rae, London, UK.
Remove NOSPAM from my email address to reply.
My opinions are not necessarily those of my employers.



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