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Biotech Company To Patent Pigs 285

Anonymous Swine writes "Monsanto, a US based multinational biotech company, is causing a stir by its plan to patent pig-breeding techniques including the claim on animals born by the techniques. 'Agricultural experts are scrambling to assess how these patents might affect the market, while consumer activists warn that if the company is granted pig-related patents, on top of its tight rein on key feed and food crops, its control over agriculture could be unprecedented. "We're afraid that Monsanto and other big companies are getting control of the world's genetic resources," said Christoph Then, a patent expert with Greenpeace in Germany. The patent applications, filed with the World Intellectual Property Organization, are broad in scope, and are expected to take several years and numerous rewrites before approval.'"


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Biotech Company To Patent Pigs

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  • by mcfatboy93 ( 1363705 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @07:11PM (#27668629) Homepage

    It better taste good

  • by yoder ( 178161 ) * <> on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @07:14PM (#27668655) Homepage Journal

    "Do only evil."

    So far they're on track.

  • I think i'm going to invent a pair of scissors and extend the patent to cover anything you cut with them.
  • by larry bagina ( 561269 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @07:19PM (#27668709) Journal
    I was going to suggest some prior art, but I realized that cowboy neal has never been laid.
  • by sir_eccles ( 1235902 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @07:20PM (#27668717)

    Did anyone else notice the 2005 date on the press release?

    As far as I can tell, no patents have been granted from WO2004/003697 which seems to be the most likely application in question.

  • patents and insanity (Score:3, Interesting)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @07:20PM (#27668721) Journal
    In general, I am opposed to patents because I feel they stifle innovation, and especially software patents for the more selfish reason that it keeps me from doing things that I want. However, this guy:

    "We're afraid that Monsanto and other big companies are getting control of the world's genetic resources," said Christoph Then, a patent expert with Greenpeace in Germany.

    Isn't Greenpeace against GMO? Why do they care then? It's not like Monsanto suddenly owns all pigs ever born.....they can still keep using normal, everyday, unmodified pigs like they do now. In fact, they should be HAPPY, because Monsanto's patent protection will prevent other people from researching and developing GMO pigs based on these techniques. It gives me the feeling that Greenpeace just wants to protest anything. Kind of reminds me of the tea-party protesters, who mostly seemed like they were out there to have fun in the name of a protest.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by phantomfive ( 622387 )
      Scratch that, I think the real motivation here for Greenpeace is that they hate Monsanto, and they are willing to do anything they can to try to hamper them in any way, even if it makes their position appear illogical. The only way Monsanto could satisfy them is by going out of business. Which is fine, I guess, but it's kind of annoying to have someone who doesn't represent their position in a straightforward way.
    • by conlaw ( 983784 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @09:37PM (#27670125)

      It's not like Monsanto suddenly owns all pigs ever born.....they can still keep using normal, everyday, unmodified pigs like they do now.

      Yeah, right...if one of the Monsanto boars gets loose, all the pig farmers in the area will get sued on the theory that the Monsanto pig impregnated all of their sows and they now owe Monsanto royalties on all the progeny. Just look at their history of suing farmers whose crops were contaminated by pollen from nearby Monsanto-licensed fields of the same crops. For the full saga of one such case which the farmer had to take all the way to the Canadian Supreme Court, see []. Mr. Schmeiser's fight, along with Monsanto's other dirty tactics, is also covered in []

      • I don't know much about raising pigs, but I know a lot about raising cows. It's a lot harder for semen to get spread around than it is for pollen. In the first case, you're not going to have one pig running around everywhere inseminating all the females, because the females are kept in pens. A pig would have to not only escape from one pen, but also break into another pen.

        In the second place, farms are kind of big, so a male cow (or pig) would have a moderately long trot to even find another cow, eve
    • The tricky thing with patented GMO stuff is that it isn't always voluntary. Those genes spread, through the usual mechanisms, just like the wild ones do. And when they do, your normal everyday unmodified stuff isn't unmodified any more, and you are liable to be sued.

      It isn't a theoretical issue, just ask Percy Schmeiser [].
      • I don't know what your point is. From the article you linked to:

        In fact, the courts at all three levels noted that the case of accidental contamination beyond the farmer's control was not under consideration but rather that Mr. Schmeiser's action of having identified, isolated and saved the Roundup-resistant seed placed the case in a different category.

        He knew something was up with that seed, if he hadn't helped spread it around his field, he wouldn't have had any legal trouble. I can't say I particularly like Monsanto, nor do I like our current patent system, but Mr. Schmeiser doesn't come off as an innocent victim in this case.

        • My point is that genes spread between organisms, and between populations, and that what your neighbor is growing/raising will be part of what you are growing/raising soon enough. The Schmeiser case was a dramatic example of that. A situation in which a farmer is no longer free to selectively plant his seed as he wishes because a proprietary gene has entered the population. That was the point.
          • Nah, pig genes aren't going to spread like that, it's a lot easier to keep track of pigs having sex than it is to keep track of pollen floating through the air.

            It's kind of miserable for Mr. Schmeiser, and Monsanto does have some questionable legal tactics, but it's worth noting that the patent system is working just as intended: it encouraged Monsanto to invent new things, give them profit for a while, and eventually that new knowledge will be released into the public domain. Whether you like that new k
  • And still I have to wait for the future. Better method for breeding pigs? How about making bacon (and pork chops and all the other piggy goodness!) without breeding? Where's that cholesterol free bacon we were promised?

    I keep waiting for the militant vegans to give up ignoring the problem (which is all abstinence does) and move to economically crush their enemies - that's what boycotting is supposedly for after all, not that it works. Buy meat from organic farms that treat animals with the respect they

    • Shouldn't biotech companies be making vat grown meat by now?

      Remember the sci-fi story "Chicken Little"? - vat-grown chicken - NOBODY gets a drumstick!

      How about crossing a chicken with an octopus - 8 wings, no feet, great for "Wings Night".

      Or cross it with a starfish. Want more - just cut 'em up and throw them back in the vat ...

    • Obviously, that strategy only works if there were enough vegans to make a dent in the demand. Vegans have already boycotted all meat, and do try to get others to do the same. PETA is already promoting meat that grows in vats.

    • Wouldn't it be easier to just breed really masochistic farm animals that _enjoy_ being eaten? (Thank you, Douglas Adams)
    • by mcrbids ( 148650 )

      BTW: Here's your flying car.... []

  • Genetic Patents (Score:4, Interesting)

    by deemen ( 1316945 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @07:28PM (#27668813)

    Someone has to stop these stupid genetic patents. Patents and copyrights are both way out of hand these days. Software patents, now this. I've heard of companies attempting to patent viruses and such (the kind they use to get DNA into other organisms), but a pig? I think patent law has a clause saying you can't patent a living organism (when did genes become "inventions"?). Recently though, big pharma and biotech companies like Monsanto has been lobbying to let this shit happen.

    There was a movie that touched on this The Corporation []. It's a Canadian movie and I think Monsanto is mentioned in there more than once.

    I sincerely don't know how these companies get away with it. Giving them the same rights as people legally was a bad idea. Don't the people working at Monsanto realize how twisted this shit is?

    • RTFA. No pig or pig genes are patented.
    • Don't all of Dr. Evil's henchmen realize how twisted this shit is? Well, sure... but it's a steady paycheck, at least until some interfering megalomaniacal ladies man decides to butt in! You know... some modern corporation HAVE become indistinguishable from old Bond villains! Where is our man with a license to kill when we need him? And no, Michael Moore does NOT count!
    • Plant patents have existed for years, and what are they if not genetic patents, albeit in a less technical format? The Honeycrisp apple is patented for example. I fail to see what is inherently wrong with patenting a line of genetically modified organisms or an artificially developed gene so long as the patent is reasonable.

  • As other posters have already mentioned, this is OLD news. []
  • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @07:40PM (#27668951) Homepage

    FTFS: "its control over agriculture could be unprecedented"

    It already is. It holds 70-100% of the genetically modified seed market, and is the largest producer of non-GMO seed, not to mention a major player in Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH) and of course pesticides and herbicides.

    That's not including the lawsuits against farmers who's plants are fertilized by Monsanto crop due to airborne pollen.

    In short, the vast majority of industrial farmers in the Corn Belt rely heavily on Monsanto, and those that don't are sued by Monsanto.

    • by SuperCharlie ( 1068072 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @08:06PM (#27669297)
      I recently ran into a few documentaries and articles about Monsanto and was completely amazed at the depth and scope of the unadulterated greed and potential for catastrophic issues that stem from their genetic manipulation of nature.

      Even that pales in comparison to the back door government dealings that have landed multitudes of Monsanto employees and board members squarely in government position that control the very laws they are petitioning for. Do a simple google search, the numbers are astounding to the point of obscenity.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by drinkypoo ( 153816 )

      It already is. It holds 70-100% of the genetically modified seed market, and is the largest producer of non-GMO seed, not to mention a major player in Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH) and of course pesticides and herbicides.

      And if they get their way [], soon enough that will be 100% of the crops you eat; produced from GMO seed with the "terminator" gene [], fertilized with a synthetic fertilizer, and inundated with synthetic pesticides which destroy soil diversity and in fact make it impossible to grow healthy food.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        soon enough that will be 100% of the crops you eat; produced from GMO seed

        And, why is that bad? Oh, GMOs weigh more than a duck and are therefore bad, right? Newsflash: All food you eat has been selected for certain traits. Those traits are the results of genes. The methodology is different but it really isn't that horribly different in that all either is really doing is changing genes, and there is nothing wrong with that. Sure, there is the chance that a novel trait may turn out to have a negative effect, but that happens with all technology. For example, do you really, r

        • by Achromatic1978 ( 916097 ) < minus distro> on Wednesday April 22, 2009 @01:00AM (#27671369)
          On Terminator genes:

          You mean that thing they currently have no plans to bring to the market? I gotta hand it to Monsanto. Genes might spread, so they're evil. They develop terminator genes to prevent accidental genetic spread, so they're evil. They're damned either way, aren't they?

          That thing that they pledged in 99 to never pursue, and then went ahead and bought a company in 2007 whose sole marketable product was that very thing, yeah, that.

          Nice handy side effect of the terminator genes "helping" accidental genetic spread - means your farmer now has to buy orders of magnitude more seed. From you. (Realize that in many staple crops, Monsanto supplies between 70% and 100% of the commercially available seed). I think it's far more likely that "helping accidental genetic spread" is a side effect of "developing revenue maximization genetic technologies".

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by drinkypoo ( 153816 )

          And, why is that bad? Oh, GMOs weigh more than a duck and are therefore bad, right? Newsflash: All food you eat has been selected for certain traits.

          I've discussed this subject exhaustively with people smarter than you, so here goes: While it is true that nature is capable of transferring genes from one organism to another even across Kingdoms with retroviruses, in practice this almost never happens and when it does, the resulting organism doesn't get cloned out hundreds of times and planted in a monoculture, and protected. While in theory humans can work "faster" than nature (to produce a specific result) the results are unpredictable.

          However, the mark

  • A history of evil (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Reason58 ( 775044 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @07:42PM (#27668973)

    God help you if one of their seeds blows onto your property and one of their pigs eat it.

  • by cortesoft ( 1150075 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @07:55PM (#27669159)

    The practices Monsanto wants to patent basically involve identifying genes that result in desirable traits in swine, breeding animals to achieve those traits and using a specialized device to inseminate sows deeply in a way that uses less sperm than is typically required.

    Umm I think nature invented that device a long time ago....

    • You know their motto: "Build a better pig penis, and the world will beat a path to your door!" I think "Long" John Holmes' work counts as prior art on this "innovation", doesn't it?
  • by meist3r ( 1061628 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @07:56PM (#27669167)
    Needs to be stopped, burned and sealed away.
  • Pigs have been breeding for millions of years. Pigs in captivity have been bred for thousands of years. Methinks there might be some prior art here! Perhaps these pigs are breeding using a non-doggy-style position? I'm pretty sure the Kama Sutra contains prior art on that as well. I'm also pretty sure Mendel and others called "prior art" on selective breeding a long time ago. So what is left to patent?
  • Pigs have been breeding just fine well before Monsanto existed.

    It does lead to funny mental images of a pack of lawyers running around the farm yelling "Stop Fucking or we'll sue!"

  • No, they don't fly...unless you strap *enough* rocket-motors to them, and successfully ignite them at the proper time.

    Yes, let's "IP approve" something that has been happening for eons....and more importantly, patent it!!!!

    The whole concept of "IP", will be mankind's fall from prominence. It is our greatest weakness, and will be exploited in the future to our downfall!

    Base anything on something imaginary, and it will crumble on you! Why be surprised, except for stupidity?

  • They didn't patent pigs so much as pig fucking? Perhaps they should change their slogan to "World leader in the field of pig fucking".
  • by gadabyte ( 1228808 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @08:31PM (#27669561)

    from []

    In 2007, Monsanto sold Monsanto Choice Genetics to Newsham Genetics LC of West Des Moines, Iowa. The transaction was completed in November 2007, and Monsanto is no longer in the swine breeding business.

    Since a Greenpeace publicity announcement in 2005, rumors have continued to circulate among activists and on the internet that Monsanto is trying to patent pig genes. When Monsanto owned the business, the company performed research work for a patent application related to a specific gene marker for a pig trait, but not for the trait itself, and also a patent application for a unique set of breeding processes, including an artificial insemination method. Monsanto never filed a patent application for a pig gene.

    Thereâ(TM)s been some rather wild speculation that these patent applications would prohibit pig farmers from breeding lines of pigs to which they had always freely bred. This isnâ(TM)t true. Any claims issued from these patent applications would apply to only animals and their offspring which had been bred using marker technology covered by patent claims.

    In any case, the sale to Newsham Genetics included any and all swine-related patents, patent applications, and all other intellectual property. Weâ(TM)re out of the pig business.

  • The Next Move (Score:5, Informative)

    by DynaSoar ( 714234 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @08:39PM (#27669625) Journal

    Monsanto patented some corn strains. The patent covered any corn found to have their patented genome. They planted it, it grew and pollinated. The pollen drifted into nearby fields and pollinated the crops there. Monsanto got some of the resulting corn, tested it, found their genome, and sued the farmers for theft of intellectual property. I don't know if they finally won or not, but at the time they prevented the farmers from farming until it was resolved causing loss of income, as well as proving themselves to be willing to use the high cost of defending one's self in order to keep from losing. And that was in the US, just prior to them releasing the same strains in third world countries. The strain they distributed had the trait of not producing viable seed. They wanted all the farmers to have to buy seed every year rather than grow their own, and they feared cross pollination would produce a viable strain overriding the nonviability genes.

  • Patents run out in 20 years. What's the problem? We had food before any Monsanto patent. For a lot longer than 20 years.

    I think I understand though. Some company might make some money by inventing something that helps people. That's a problem for anti-corporate haters. They'd rather companies not invent and people not be helped. If just one company can be denied a profit, all the damage to human potential and standards of living is worthwhile!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Monsanto is an evil, evil company. One needs only to scratch the surface of a google search on the company to come to this conclusion.

      The way they have perverted the natural process of pollination - a process by which nobody has any real control - and turned it into a way to force farmers out of business and create a monopoly market is nothing short of evil.

      The way they force third world countries to continue buying their products by selling them plants which create infertile seeds, rather than allowing the

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kohath ( 38547 )

        Except none of these arguments matter because patents run out in 20 years.

        And they only have "control" when you give it to them in exchange for a benefit. If it's not a good deal, don't buy it.

        I don't mindlessly buy into your groupthink. "If you disagree, then you're stupid" tends to be an argument typical of those who promote ideas that are false.

    • by db32 ( 862117 )
      You might want to do some research on this particular company. This is way beyond anti-corporate stuff. These guys are grade A evil shit assholes. Microsoft looks like a bunch of saints next to the kind of shit these assholes put out.

      Agent Orange, Round up, Aspertame (and the associated FDA/Reagan tap dancing act that got it unbanned), Bovine Growth Hormone (and all of the associated information suppression via media pressure and lawsuits), and we have the whole terminator gene lawsuit business...
    • by cheros ( 223479 )

      make some money by inventing something that helps people

      I'm OK with people making money off a good invention that indeed brings the world forward.

      However, the only people Monsanto helps is their executives and shareholders, and if you do some research you'll find that the methods by which they do so appear to put Microsoft and the RIAA very much in the shade. The mess in the finance industry (and thus globally) because they were left uncontrolled: no money for people to go round. Now do this to teh food i

  • Do you like:
    1) Bacon
    2) Ham
    3) Pork chops
    4) Pork roasts
    5) Any pork product
    6)many vegetables,
    If answer is yes to any of the above, BOW DOWN TO YOUR MONSANTO MASTERS!

    Don't like that?
    Then fight back, it is happening currently.

    DNA, Genetics, and Genes all need to be exempt from patent law!
    Or, reap what you sow!

  • but Monsanto's are more equal than others?

    I think that what they're saying :-)

    (just wait until they try to apply this to designer babies...)

With all the fancy scientists in the world, why can't they just once build a nuclear balm?