Are Animals Patentable?

Monsanto Corporation has reportedly filed a request for a patent to a breed of pigs, seeking to control not just the method by which those pigs were bred, but the pigs themselves as well as their offspring. If the patent is granted, any farmers who breed pigs that are similar to the Monsanto pigs may owe royalties. Greenpeace reports:

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.

By the way, Monsanto is the same company that manufactured Agent Orange, which was used in Vietnam in the 1960s, and, more recently, the milk hormone rBGH, which has been suspected of causing cancer. They’re also the geniuses behind terminator seeds.

Link via Boing Boing.

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