4-Patents: American Seed Trade Association on terminator and rice patents
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---------------- Begin Forwarded Message ----------------
Date: 25.03 16:31 Uhr
Received: 26.03 12:32 Uhr
From: GRAIN Los Banos, firstname.lastname@example.org
TITLE: Protecting Technology and Encouraging Development -and-
Misunderstandings, Different Laws Cause Unnecessary Flap Over Basmati
AUTHOR: American Seed Trade Association
PUBLICATION: Seed Industry Announcements, News and White Papers section
DATE: 22 January 1999
NOTE: TPS is more popularly know as "Terminator technology"
Seed Industry Announcements
News and White Papers
Updated 22 January, 1999
The American Seed Trade Association is pleased to provide the following
information on two emerging technologies that have received significant
attention since their respective patents were granted:
* Technology Protection System -- Delta & Pine Land Company/USDA
* New Varieties of Basmati Rice -- RiceTec, Inc.
Our responsibility as an organization is to provide timely and useful
information to those interested in learning more about the emerging
technologies that are influencing and affecting agriculture, especially
seed. Internally and externally, the ASTA seeks to provide educational
materials and links that update and inform farmers, consumers and
interested in learning more about efforts and systems that affect all of
that support and participate in the food system. While ASTA does not
specifically endorse any particular technology system, we remain
supportive of those efforts that provide choice and excellence by farmers
and consumers alike. We believe that strong intellectual property rights
protection is a necessary foundation for those who develop and provide
 PROTECTING TECHNOLOGY AND ENCOURAGING DEVELOPMENT
The Technology Protection System (TPS), developed through the efforts of
United States Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service
(USDA-ARS) and Delta and Pine Land Company (D&PL), has received
attention since the patent was awarded last spring. To insure that D&PL
employees and others in the agricultural industry have accurate
we have prepared this information on TPS.
This technology will insure North American farmers a more level playing
field when competing in commodity production with farmers worldwide.
American farmers have been paying for advanced seed technologies for the
past several years based upon the value of proven enhancements. Some of
these advanced technologies have leaked into other countries without
payments by the farmers receiving the advantages of these traits,
an uneven playing field.
TPS will also stimulate breeding and marketing efforts in countries which
have not benefited from advances currently available in the developed
due to lack of protection of intellectual property. Critics of TPS say
technology will limit choices these farmers have. However, it will
result in growers, particularly in Third World countries, having more
options available to them, including high-yielding, disease-resistant and
even transgenic varieties. We expect this new opportunity to present
farmers in the Third World with the option of moving into production
agriculture rather than their current subsistence farming.
Biosafety realized through TPS
Biosafety produced by TPS prevents the remote possibility of transgene
movement. There has been some concern that biotech-derived genes might
cross to wild relatives. This slight possibility should be prevented by
activated plants, as even the pollen, if it happens to pollinate flowers
a wild, related species, will render the seed produced non-viable. In
addition, the non-viable seed produced on TPS plants will prevent the
possibility of volunteer plants, a major pest problem where rotation is
Understanding the system
TPS is a transgenic system comprised of a complex array of genes and gene
promoters which, in the normal state, are inactive. This means the plant
normal and produces normal seeds which germinate when planted. Seeds
carrying TPS produced for sale to the farmer will simply have a treatment
applied prior to the sale of the seed which, at time of germination, will
trigger an irreversible series of events rendering the seed produced on
farmers' plants non-viable for replanting. It's important to note that
like hybridization, will have no effect on the seed product whether for
feed, oil , fiber or other uses.
Other Germplasm Protection
While TPS is a first in biotechnology-based germplasm protection systems,
there are other means of protecting genetic breakthroughs. The most
type of protection system is hybrid seed production. Although primarily
system for increased yield via hybrid vigor, it is also a protection
Hybrids are seen in many cross-pollinated crops such as corn, sorghum,
sunflower and canola. Reduction in performance and changes from the
seed leads to little saving of hybrid seed. Farmers, recognizing the
added from increased yields, are willing to buy new hybrid seed each year
instead of saving and replanting seed from their previous crop. Their
purchase of new seed each year insures quality and funds new research
leads to new and improved products.
On the other hand, few germplasm protection systems have been
implemented for self-pollinated species, such as cotton, soybeans, wheat
rice. The difficulty in producing hybrids, combined with costly
implementation and poor product performance has kept companies from
investing heavily in some of these crops.
Farmers to receive choice and benefits
Farmers will continue to select those varieties which offer the highest
returns and most benefits to the farmer. As is currently the case with
transgenic varieties, farmers will be able to choose from TPS and non-TPS
varieties. It is the expectation of both D&PL and the USDA-ARS that the
benefits realized by planting TPS varieties, carrying advanced technology
traits, will be significant. Many farmers will be likely to choose TPS
varieties when given the opportunity.
TPS likely to increase research
TPS will be broadly available to both large and small seed firms.
of this, it is anticipated that TPS will encourage increased breeding
research in many crop species and geographic areas. Consequently, there
should be sizable improvements in technology. Delta and Pine Land Company
and the USDA-ARS believe that this is a distinct advantage to farmers
because they will have better varieties and transgenics more widely
available to them.
Genetic diversity in many important crops is a real concern of both
and public breeders today. There is no correlation between TPS and lack
genetic diversity. In fact, with the increased incentive for many
seed companies as well as universities to breed crops which have not
received sufficient attention in the past, it is entirely possible that
diversity will increase as breeders focus on providing unique and
versions of germplasm to farmers.
Timetable for development
Several years ago, a D&PL cotton breeder and researchers from the
generated the idea for a technology protection system during a casual
meeting. With research beginning in 1993, it progressed over the next
years to move the concept to reality. In the spring of 1998, D&PL and
USDA were awarded a patent by the US government. The system is being
developed further and we expect that it will be a few years before TPS
transgenic varieties are commercialized. Though research is progressing
well, there are no TPS plants, nor have there been any TPS plants of any
species, growing in a field, anywhere in the world.
In the end, it is the farmers who will decide if the TPS and other new
agricultural technologies have tangible benefits. Seed companies and
technology providers are dependent on helping farmers be more successful.
If a technology does not bring benefits and increased prosperity to our
customers, then they will not purchase the technology. It is in
interest that more choices be available to all of the world's farmers,
the TPS is a means of achieving this goal.
For additional information
Dr. Harry B. Collins, Vice President of Technology Transfer, leads the
effort for D&PL and is glad to discuss the TPS with media, seed and
technology companies, as well as individuals. He can be reached at D&PL's
headquarters in Scott, Mississippi by calling 601-742-4533 (8 a.m. to 5
CST), faxing 601-742-3795 or e-mailing email@example.com.
 MISUNDERSTANDINGS, DIFFERENT LAWS
CAUSE UNNECESSARY FLAP OVER BASMATI RICE
Contact: Gwen Griffen 281-461-4681 or Bruce Hicks 713-942-0002
ALVIN, TEXAS -- Since late 1997, RiceTec, Inc., a small, Alvin,
rice company has been entangled in an international controversy because
substantial misunderstanding about its patent on new varieties of
basmati rice. In September 1997, after 10 years of classical plant
RiceTec was issued U.S. patent #5,663,484 and that patent touched off a
firestorm of unnecessary concern in India and Pakistan, said Robin
president and CEO of RiceTec.
"This whole flap is totally unnecessary," Andrews said, "and has happened
only, I believe, because of the laws we have in the United States which
allow companies to protect their inventions. RiceTec invented a way to
produce basmati rice in the United States comparable to the best basmati
grown in India and Pakistan and we received a patent to protect our
method and seeds. Those countries do not have such laws and, thus, few
people there understand what they do and don't do.
"The biggest single misunderstanding . . . regards the term "basmati"
a misconception that RiceTec has somehow patented that name."
RiceTec has produced and marketed Texas basmati and American basmati rice
-- and labeling it as such -- for 20 years and exporting the products for
years with no objection ever raised previously, Andrews said of the small
company which has approximately 100 employees and $10 million in total
RiceTec's patent protects the company's seeds and breeding methods in the
United States, it does not in any way patent or trademark the word
"basmati," Andrews noted. "Basmati" is a generic term used by breeders
the trade for decades and consumers are familiar with its descriptive use
products such as American basmati, Indian basmati, Pakistan basmati,
basmati and Thai basmati, he said.
RiceTec is joined by the major U.S. Rice industry associations in the
position that the word "Basmati" is generic. The USA Rice Federation and
of the Federation's charter members, the Rice Millers' Association, have
adopted official position statements which say, ". . . the terms basmati
and jasmine refer to types of generic classes of aromatic rice and that
these terms cover many varieties and a broad range of qualities
Additionally, these terms are not restricted to products or varieties
produced in any specific country or groups of countries."
Andrews said there is a misconception that RiceTec was granted exclusive
rights to the name "basmati" in the U.S., a misconception that RiceTec
charge other companies for importing basmati rice into the U.S., and a
misconception that RiceTec's patent would prevent Indian farmers from
exporting their product.
"All of these and similar misunderstandings have caused undue concern,"
said. It is unfortunate that those spreading the misconceptions haven't
bothered to learn the facts or have ignored them.
In addition to the misunderstandings over the name and what the patent
protects, Andrews said there has also been misunderstanding over the
of germplasm and the method of breeding used by RiceTec to develop the
The germplasm used for breeding the new lines came partly from the World
Collection of Germplasm in Aberdeen, Idaho, which is operated by the
Agricultural Research Service of the United States Department of
Agriculture. The specific lines are identified in the patent and
to anyone for breeding purposes. And, RiceTec used traditional, classical
breeding over 10 years to develop the product. The germplasm did not come
from India and RiceTec did not use biotechnology or genetic
as has been erroneously reported at times.
"Just as durum refers to a class of wheat, basmati refers to a class of
rice," . . .
Andrews said that Indian and Pakistani officials apparently want to
reverse history over the term "basmati," suddenly declaring that basmati
only come from those two countries. However, not only have RiceTec and
other companies outside of India and Pakistan produced and marketed
rice for decades, India's own rice authorities have used the word as a
generic term for rice of widely varying qualities from many countries for
many years. For example, a 1979 scientific article from the Genetics
Division, India Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi by renowned
Indian rice breeder E.A. Siddiq uses basmati as a generic term in
fragrant rice from countries other than India and Pakistan.
"Just as durum refers to a class of wheat, basmati refers to a class of
rice," Andrews said, noting dozens of other examples abound including in
cookbooks by famous Indian chefs and others.
Andrews said there has been opposition to RiceTec's trademark
in the United Kingdom. The trademark action is in government procedural
process currently and, although there have been threats, there have been
lawsuits, injunctions or other legal actions which have been erroneously
reported on several occasions.
... although there have been threats,
there have been no lawsuits ...
"The fact is that RiceTec has not sold any product in the United Kingdom
to the European Union import levy which discriminates against U.S.
rice products in favor of India and Pakistan," said Andrews.
Andrews said that despite announcements that India and Pakistan would
some sort of legal action to overturn the patent in the U.S., nothing has
happened and he does not believe any such attempts would be successful
''RiceTec has operated honorably for more than 20 years, producing high
quality products and developing new breeding methods to help feed a
world and reduce land requirements " he said. "RiceTec did nothing wrong
its development of this new product and any scrutiny at all clearly shows
that. It is unfortunate there are some who would use RiceTec to further
their own agendas."
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