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The quest for diversity in our fears


We aren't leaving any stones unturned in our modern search for things to be frightened of.  Someone sent me this email a little while ago:

You might want to check this out or at least keep it in the back of your mind.  I had heard something similar about Monsanto seed being found in fields, where it was not to have been planted.  I gathered that it had to do with non-Monsanto product being fertilized with the spore from Monsanto plants in a neighboring field rather than a situation where farmer 2 illegally got seed from farmer 1 and planted it on his farm.  This thing with the pigs is something else.  Seems sort of far fetched, but then we live in a world of lawyers.  What was it Shakespeare said about all lawyers?  Hmmmm? 
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Wednesday, August 24, 2005 6:58 PM
Subject: Disturbing


Greenpeace researcher uncovers chilling patent plans

02 August 2005

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. 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.

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

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 belive 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

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.

Monsanto's GMO corn threatens biodiversity.

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

You can take action against Monsanto at


Entry #216


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