[pp.int.general] patents for seeds

Reinier Bakels r.bakels at planet.nl
Sat Aug 15 10:47:15 CEST 2009

My newspaper today (NRC/H, a Dutch so-called quality newspaper) has a front page article on the patenting of seeds, wich is perceived as a threat by growers. Until recently, they were only subject to breeders rights - that allowed them to breed new varieties themselves. Which is perceived as essential, e.g. because varieties have to be adapted to remain vermin resistant. Else eventually the supply of food is endangered. But patent law now allows breeding seeds, and (after recent concentrations) the market is being dominated now by a handful of major players like Monsanto (US) and Syngenta (CH). They consider further bredding with the plants grown with their seeds as a form of piracy very similar to youngsters making "private copies" of music. Farmers and growers are pirates!

While some of you are perhaps primarily interested in copyright or software patents, such developments show that there are *structural* problems in these fields  - presumably to be classified under the common denominator of smart "rent seeking" action by major American (but also Swiss) players. ("Rent seeking" is a term for lobbying by firms to get legislation that allows them to make more money without producing more).

For those of you who read Dutch I can cut&paste the articles.

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