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Monsanto files patent for new invention: the pig

  1. Aug 22, 2005 #1
    I don't know if this goes in this forum or in the politics and world affairs, take a look:

    The patent applications were published in February 2005 at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in Geneva. A Greenpeace researcher who monitors patent applications, Christoph Then, uncovered the fact that Monsanto is seeking patents not only on methods of breeding, but on actual breeding herds of pigs as well as the offspring that result.

    "If these patents are granted, Monsanto can legally prevent breeders and farmers from breeding pigs whose characteristics are described in the patent claims, or force them to pay royalties," says Then. "It's a first step toward the same kind of corporate control of an animal line that Monsanto is aggressively pursuing with various grain and vegetable lines."

    There are more than 160 countries and territories mentioned where the patent is sought including Europe, the Russian Federation, Asia (India, China, Philippines) America (USA, Brazil, Mexico), Australia and New Zealand. WIPO itself can only receive applications, not grant patents. The applications are forwarded to regional patent offices.

    Take patent application WO 2005/017204. This refers to pigs in which a certain gene sequence related to faster growth is detected. This is a variation on a natural occurring sequence -- Monsanto didn't invent it.

    It was first identified in mice and humans. Monsanto wants to use the detection of this gene sequence to screen pig populations, in order to find which animals are likely to produce more pork per pound of feed. (And that will be Monsanto Brand genetically engineered feed grown from Monsanto Brand genetically engineered seed raised in fields sprayed with Monsanto Brand Roundup Ready herbicide and doused with Monsanto Brand pesticides, of course).

    But again, Monsanto wants to own not just the selection and breeding method, not just the information about the genetic indicators, but, if you pardon the expression, the whole hog.

    Claim 16 asks for a patent on: "A pig offspring produced by a method ..."
    Claim 17 asks for a patent on: "A pig herd having an increased frequency of a specific ...gene..."
    Claim 23 asks for a patent on: "A pig population produced by the method..."
    Claim 30 asks for a patent on: "A swine herd produced by a method..."
    This means the pigs, their offspring, and the use of the genetic information for breeding will be entirely owned by Monsanto, Inc. and any replication or infringement of their patent by man or beast will mean royalties or jail for the offending swine.


  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 22, 2005 #2
    That's a bit like saying a record company copyrighted music. It's a real half truth.
  4. Aug 22, 2005 #3
    But I wouldn't put it past Monsanto to try it.
  5. Aug 22, 2005 #4
    Do you remeber when Microsoft wanted to patent letters M and S, for MS :)))

    sentence total: 7$
    1$per letter ;)
  6. Aug 23, 2005 #5


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    The link to the patent doesn't show all the claims, and with Greenpeace's site only providing snippets of quotes without the full sentence, there's no way to know they are quoting or interpreting the claims properly. This could be a method patent on the breeding of the pigs, or it could be a patent on a transgenic line of pig (just as transgenic mice can be patented). From the snippet, they could be claiming the pigs produced using a certain method, not pigs with a certain mutation.

    It could also be that the two have to go together, that once you get the particular leptin receptor variant, the pigs have fertility problems and need a special method of estrous cycle synchronization to breed them.

    However, if it turns out this is a naturally occurring genetic variation, and not something they've mutated, then there's no reason to believe they'll get their claims to be accepted unless they get a patent examiner who's completely sleeping on the job.
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