Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

GMO patents

  1. May 24, 2010 #1
    How should patenting a GMO be even a viable option? Claiming intellectual property over something you just modified seems absurd. Following that logic I could just rewrite a few lines of Hamlet and claim it as my intellectual property instead of Shakespeare's
  2. jcsd
  3. May 24, 2010 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Modified, in this context, means taking a Boeing 747 and inserting the genes from an another aircraft to give it the ability to hover or take-off vertically - that's patentable.
  4. May 24, 2010 #3
    So if I change Hamlet to a different outcome I can patent/copyright it as my own, despite I only modified a tiny fraction of it?

    What about the fact companies like Monsanto produce GMOs that are sterile, but still can pollinate natural species over great distances, which is a threat to the natural biological diversity, plus they use this plague like tactic to infect natural crops and then unleash their lawyers with accusations farmers are illegally growing their crops, putting them out of business, instead of paying them compensation for contaminating their crops with strains that are sterile and pose health risks?
  5. May 24, 2010 #4


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    I didn't say it was a good thing - I just said that GMO wasn't simply shuffling genes that already exist in the organism.
    Plays aren't patented they are copyrighted - but yes you could modify and exiisting play to add new elements and copyright that new work.
  6. May 24, 2010 #5
    And there are no laws against such dangerous activity? GMO producers don't seem to be restrained by the law, they only seem to benefit from exploiting it...
  7. May 24, 2010 #6


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Is it the organism per se that's patented? Or the process to modify it?
  8. May 24, 2010 #7


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Both, for a crop you can patent the new combination of genes - since they never existedin that form before you created them

    A rather more dubious patent is for disease genes in humans, you can't patent the gene - since your parents 'invented' it and you can't patent it's operation or presence. So the companies patent the idea of a genetic test to discover disease X by looking at gene Y.
  9. May 24, 2010 #8
    I'd say it's the actual gene that has been patented, so every organism containing it can be viewed as a patent violation.
  10. May 24, 2010 #9


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    2017 Award

    See Pride, Predjudice, and Zombies. The author took the text from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, modified it, and now holds the copyright to his modified version.

    Monsanto considered modifying their GMOs to be sterile, but ultimately decided against doing so because of harsh popular opinion against such measures (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_use_restriction_technology). If Monsanto had modified their GMOs to be sterile, we would presumably have less problems with GMO pollen cross-breeding with conventional strains in nearby fields.

    There certainly are many laws that regulate GMO producers, and they are overseen by many government agencies including the EPA, USDA, and FDA. GMO foods undergo much more stringent testing than any other food on the market. There are certainly laws on the patent side of things that biotech companies exploit, but what company doesn't exploit our patent system for profit (see software companies, "patent troll" companies, pharmaceuticals, etc)?
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Similar Threads - patents Date
Patent Rights? Nov 21, 2015
Gene Patenting - Pro's vs. Con's Jul 12, 2012
Monsanto files patent for new invention: the pig Aug 22, 2005
Should genes be patented? Oct 15, 2003