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4-Patents: Monsanto files patent for new invention: the pig

-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Monsanto files patent for new invention: the pig
        Greenpeace researcher uncovers chilling patent plans
SOURCE: Greenpeace International
        files attached: monsanto-shouldn-t-be-able-to.jpg
DATE:   2 Aug 2005

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please read the patent applications at:

Monsanto files patent for new invention: the pig
Greenpeace researcher uncovers chilling patent plans

The Earth is flat, pigs were invented by Monsanto, and genetically
modified organisms are safe. Right.

Geneva, 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 <
news/suicide-seeds>. 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 <http://>.

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 regulatory level.

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)

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.

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 believe 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

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.

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

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 result.

In George Orwell's classic "Animal Farm" it was the pigs who rewrote
history. In the dystopia Monsanto is creating, they'll own those pigs.

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.


European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
In den Steinäckern 13
D - 38116 Braunschweig

P: +49-531-5168746
F: +49-531-5168747
M: +49-162-1054755
E: coordination(*)
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