Switzerland — It's official. Monsanto Corporation is out to own the
world's food supply, the dangers of genetic engineering and reduced biodiversity
notwithstanding, as they pig-headedly set about hog-tying farmers with their
monopoly plans. We've discovered chilling new evidence of this in recent
patents that seek to establish ownership rights over pigs and their offspring.
In the crop department, Monsanto is well on their way to dictating
what consumers will eat, what farmers will grow, and how much Monsanto will
get paid for seeds. In some cases those seeds are designed not to reproduce
sowable offspring. In others, a flock of lawyers stand ready to swoop down
on farmers who illegally, or even unknowingly, end up with Monsanto's private
property growing in their fields.
One way or another, Monsanto wants to make sure no food is
grown that they don't own -- and the record shows they don't care if it's
safe for the environment or not. Monsanto has aggressively set out to bulldoze
environmental concerns about its genetically engineered (GE) seeds at every
So why stop in the field? Not content to own the pesticide
and the herbicide and the crop, they've made a move on the barnyard by filing
two patents which would make the corporate giant the sole owner of that
famous Monsanto invention: the pig.
The Monsanto Pig (Patent pending)
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
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.
The patents are based on simple procedures, but are incredibly
broad in their claims.
In one application (WO
2005/015989 to be precise) Monsanto is describing very general methods
of crossbreeding and selection, using artificial insemination and other
breeding methods which are already in use. The main "invention"
is nothing more than a particular combination of these elements designed
to speed up the breeding cycle for selected traits, in order to make the
animals more commercially profitable. (Monsanto chirps gleefully about lower
fat content and higher nutritional value. But we've looked and we couldn't
find any "Philanthropic altruism" line item in their annual reports,
despite the fact that it's an omnipresent factor in their advertising.)
According to Then, "I couldn't belive this. I've been
reviewing patents for 10 years and I had to read this three times. Monsanto
isn't just seeking a patent for the method, they are seeking a patent on
the actual pigs which are bred from this method. It's an astoundingly broad
and dangerous claim."
Good breeding always shows
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.
Not pig fodder
When it comes to profits, pigs are big. Monsanto notes that
"The economic impact of the industry in rural America is immense. Annual
farm sales typically exceed US$ 11 billion, while the retail value of pork
sold to consumers reaches US$ 38 billion each year."
At almost every level of food production, Monsanto is seeking
a monopoly position.
The company once earned its money almost exclusively through
agrochemicals. But in the last ten years they've spent about US$ 10 billion
buying up seed producers and companies in other sectors of the agricultural
business. Their last big acquisition was Seminis, the biggest producer of
vegetable seeds in the world.
Monsanto holds extremely broad patents on seeds, most, but
not all of them, related to Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). Monsanto
has also claimed patent rights on such non-Monsanto inventions as traditionally
bred wheat from India and soy plants from China. Many of these patents apply
not only to the use of seeds but all uses of the plants and harvest that
GMO corn threatens biodiversity.
Monsanto's GMO corn threatens biodiversity.
Orwellian: "The Earth is flat, pigs were invented by Monsanto, and
GMOs are safe."
The big picture is chilling to anyone who mistrusts Monsanto's
record disinterest for environmental safety.
And if you're not worried, you should be: central control
of food supply has been a standard ingredient for social and political control
throughout history. By creating a monopoly position, Monsanto can force
dangerous experiments like the release of GMOs into the environment on an
unwilling public. They can ensure that GMOs will be sold and consumed wherever
they say they will.
By claiming global monopoly patent rights throughout the entire
food chain, Monsanto seeks to make farmers and food producers, and ultimately
consumers, entirely dependent and reliant on one single corporate entity
for a basic human need. It's the same dependence that Russian peasants had
on the Soviet Government following the Russian revolution. The same dependence
that French peasants had on Feudal kings during the middle ages. But control
of a significant proportion of the global food supply by a single corporation
would be unprecedented in human history.
It's time to ensure that doesn't happen.
It's time for a global ban of patents on seeds and farm animals.
It's time to tell Monsanto we've had enough of this hogwash.
— Brian Thomas Fitzgerald
Tell Monsanto to stop patenting life
* Let Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant (no relation to the actor who
plays a sleazy corporate executive in Bridget Jones' Diary) and the board
of Monsanto know you don't want them patenting your food.http://www.greenpeace.org/no-pig-patent
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