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4-Patents: Academics call for ban on patenting agricultural life forms

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TITLE:  Academics call for ban on patenting agricultural life
SOURCE: Nature, Vol 400, p. 8
DATE:   July 1, 1999

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The Council of the Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS), which
met in Budapest last Thursday (24 June) before the start of the
main conference, was cited as endorsing a call for a ban on the
patenting of all "agricultural life forms". TWAS vice-president
Muhammad Akhtar, emeritus professor of biochemistry at the
University of Southampton in England, was quoted as saying,
"Agriculture in much of the developing world is the result of the
collective experience gained from the sweat and toil of poor
peasants over thousands of years. Recombinant DNA technology is
unlikely to alter more than a fraction of one per cent of the
existing genomic make-up of edible plants. It is hence an affront
to the sense of fairness that multinational corporations should
be able to claim the ownership, through patenting, of living
systems, for such a minuscule contribution."

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