The wheels of justice grind slowly...but they do turn

Story: Naturally Occurring Human Genes Not Patentable - Myriad LosesTotal Replies: 17
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Jun 14, 2013
5:50 AM EDT
This decision is one of the best I have seen come out of the USA courts. As a person who beat cancer in 2000, I have nothing but sympathy for the American women (as well as those from the entire world) whose lives were held to ransom by Myriad. The ramifications of this decision are profound. It means that any natural genetic material cannot ever be patented and so research can at last proceed unfettered by greed. I salute the American justices who took this unanimous decision.

PS......I know this item is not strictly Linux.....but it's importance and implications are enormous and it's something that might impact directly on at least half the readers and users of LXer.......Ladies, you have been given a marvellous victory and by implication, we mere males as well. I am over the moon.

Jun 14, 2013
8:26 AM EDT
Indeed, the wheels of justice do turn.

It takes getting your own corporate shills into the judiciary, the executive, and at least bribing the legislature, to stop them. Obviously, Myriad wasn't quick enough.

Others have been far more effective, which is why genetics are still patentable. The prosecutions of farmers down-wind from GMO fields will continue.

Jun 14, 2013
8:28 AM EDT
Too bad this has not applied to food, as well.

Jun 14, 2013
5:42 PM EDT

The crop DNA is patentable under the new rules, it is not a naturally occurring gene / chemical. It is created to give resistance to Monsanto's synthetic herbicide. Unfortunately, some weeds have added this gene to their own armory. But don't worry everything is under control. Except for an unapproved wheat altered in the same fashion that was cleared years ago that showed up in a farmer's field in OR. But worry not, its an isolated case and no more exists. So say the experts that, so far in my view, have not explained the first instance.



Jun 14, 2013
8:59 PM EDT
TxtEdMacs.....again, while I know we are diverging from Linux et al., your remarks are precisely why I worry so much about GM products in pollinated plants, whether by wind or insects. Isolation of the crops is impossible.

Jun 14, 2013
9:47 PM EDT
> Isolation of the crops is impossible.

Exactly. And yet if they allow the spread of their DNA into the wild, they probably lose their rights to it. So they flounder about like a beached whale, trying desperately to prevent the inevitable.

Jun 14, 2013
10:32 PM EDT
[very serious (I kid you NOT)]


I suggest you reread B.R. comment again, carefully. That has happened and those farmers unlucky enough to have these beasts land on their soil and take route are the ones that pay NOT Monsanto. Think too what it does to certified organic farms, which find those uninvited guests have taken root. It becomes a (usually a small to medium) farm's problem NOT Monsanto's.

So far Monsanto never loses.

[/back to kidding where I am more comfortable]


Jun 15, 2013
2:21 AM EDT

It has become so ridiculously insane that farmers are petitioning the courts for protection from Monsanto's patent lawsuits when Monsanto's seeds cross into a farmer's field through no fault of the farmer.

Quoting:A three-judge panel at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled today that a group of organic and otherwise non-GMO farmer and seed company plaintiffs are not entitled to bring a lawsuit to protect themselves from Monsanto's transgenic seed patents "because Monsanto has made binding assurances that it will not 'take legal action against growers whose crops might inadvertently contain traces of Monsanto biotech genes (because, for example, some transgenic seed or pollen blew onto the grower's land).'"

Yet, Monsanto has already done exactly that numerous times.

Quoting:Monsanto's history of aggressive investigations and lawsuits brought against farmers in America have been a source of concern for organic and non-GMO farmers since Monsanto's first lawsuit brought against a farmer in the mid-90's. Since then, 144 farmers have had lawsuits brought against them by Monsanto for alleged violations of their patented seed technology. Monsanto has brought charges against more than 700 additional farmers who have settled out-of-court rather than face Monsanto's belligerent litigious actions. Many of these farmers claim to not have had the intention to grow or save seeds that contain Monsanto's patented genes. Seed drift and pollen drift from genetically engineered crops often contaminate neighboring fields. If Monsanto's seed technology is found on a farmer's land without contract they can be found liable for patent infringement.


Jun 15, 2013
2:27 AM EDT
And in any case, the idea that some one or some corporation can "own" and control the use of seeds with a particular genetic strain after selling those seeds to a farmer is even more asinine and messed-up (and down-right scary) than the notion of still owning and controlling software after it's been sold to the customer.

Jun 15, 2013
7:24 AM EDT
> That has happened...

No. Controlled crops grown by farmers are not "in the wild". Once those genes find there way into completely unrelated plants (which will almost certainly happen), then it's demonstrated that hey are, in fact, "naturally occurirng", exactly as any non-bought and paid for genetic scientist would tell them.

I agree that the case Monsanto has won are ridiculous and that the very idea that genetics can be owned is even more ridiculous. All DNA is naturally occurring. The various recombinations of it is simply what DNA does. All Monstanto has done is speed up a natural process. The very idea that it can be patented is an insult to the intelligence of anyone who understands the process. Unfortunately, our judges don't seem to be in that class. :(

Jun 15, 2013
8:32 AM EDT
It's a regular corporate sewing circle, all the Monsanto foxes in the govt hen house:

Same-same with the USDA and meat packers, FDA and the National Milk producers, currently at war with natural organic raw milk dairymen, ad nauseum. It's a toss-up as to whether the human race dies off from world pollution or barely survives it by becoming GMO mutants. Glorp!

Jun 15, 2013
3:24 PM EDT
Quoting:No. Controlled crops grown by farmers are not "in the wild". Once those genes find there way into completely unrelated plants (which will almost certainly happen), then it's demonstrated that hey are, in fact, "naturally occurirng", exactly as any non-bought and paid for genetic scientist would tell them.

Ah, okay. You are referring to cross-pollination of one species to another. It happens in vegetable gardens if you plant some squashes and cucumbers too close to each other. The GMO cross-pollination from one species to another is very likely with rapeseed (commonly called canola).

A 2002 study by the European Environmental Agency (EEA) documented the likelihood of out-crossing for Europe’s most important crops:

Quoting:The pollen of rapeseed comes into contact with several related wild species that are compatible breeding partners. A wild plant known as turnip rape is likely to produce viable hybrid offspring with rapeseed. Wild cabbage and various species of wild mustard are compatible with rapeseed, but viable hybrids are less likely.

The appearance of herbicide resistant weeds due to the movement of genes from transgenic rapeseed is considered possible. Whether or not herbicide resistance genes become established in wild relatives depends on whether or not these genes offer an advantage to the plant within a certain ecosystem.

The study also revealed that the wild relatives of rapeseed are all very closely related, and it is not yet clear exactly where the limits to breeding compatibility lie. To shed more light on this issue, the EEA study suggests that gene movement (not of GM origin) between different species and populations of rapeseed relatives be investigated. Projects addressing this question are currently underway in several European countries.

I was referring to same species cross-pollination of GMO to organic. According to the Organic Authority website,

Quoting:For the first time in the United States, populations of genetically modified organisms were found to be growing in the wild in North Dakota – along roadsides, in ballparks and cemeteries- and in some cases, have been cross-pollinating to create new plants that are resistant to several strains of herbicides.

It may be a problem finding those genetic scientists who are not bought and paid for.


Jun 15, 2013
6:37 PM EDT
> It may be a problem finding those genetic scientists who are not bought and paid for.

That it may. It's even more problematic to find a court which isn't.

Jun 15, 2013
6:38 PM EDT
> It's a regular corporate sewing circle, all the Monsanto foxes in the govt hen house:

This always happens with government regulation. I think Bob has written about it here several times.

Jun 15, 2013
10:34 PM EDT
Government regulation is NOT the problem. The regulation, in theory, should prevent abuse. The problem is selecting the regulators from those who are supposed to be regulated. That conflict of interest must be legislated out of existence.

I am also not at all sold on all the paranoia and fear around GMO crops.

Jun 16, 2013
3:35 AM EDT
@caitlyn......I wasn't going to buy in on this thread any further, but your last sentence convinced me. As you already know, I have had a fair bit to do in the biological area and taught the subject to senior students, as well as completing a Biology I, II, III major at University level.

First, gene alteration/mutation is a natural occurrence in the real world, and DNA fragments alter all the time. Some of these are beneficial to the organism, some are not. Those that are beneficial survive, those that are not will ultimately cause the carrier organism to die earlier or have less chance to reproduce. know all that.

Now, normal plant selection by agricultural scientists means selecting those plants which survive under prescribed conditions, therefore they have the genes to permit this and thus are now bred further. Also, there may be wild strains of the plant which have desirable characteristics and these wild strains are bred into the food crop or whatever and when the results are desirable, the new variety of plant is kept and bred further. It's how agronomists stay ahead of wheat rusts. Note that in all these cases, no new genetic material is produced in the simply select to keep some and discard the varieties that you don't want.

Right, now all of the processes outlined so far are perfectly natural and totally harmless. What the big companies do is look for or artificially produce a gene that, say, makes the plant resistant to herbicide. This is then inserted into the normal plant's DNA. That means you can dump herbicides on the crop to kill competing weeds, but the crop doesn't care. Sounds good ? Right, it sure does.......but.....that gene did NOT exist in that plant's DNA until the big company came along...Moreover, you and I eat that crop with a herbicide resistant gene. We do NOT know what that gene will do in us as it is digested or incorporated in various ways into our bodies. Some effects are delayed but are then for instance, thalidomide.

Personally, I do not know what are the effects of big company genetic manipulation....but I retain a very, very healthy suspicion that it may yet prove to be that "something is rotten in the state of Denmark".

Jun 16, 2013
8:41 AM EDT
The issue, as I understand it, is that some of these gene transplants are NOT natural. We hear about frog and salamander genes being artificially introduced into food DNA. Is this why the crop does not die when sprayed with a herbicide? Cuz the crop is no longer all vegetable, but now part animal? Is that how Monsanto can easily track their seed, cuz there no Earthly way a frog gene could make it way into a soybean DNA unless Monsanto put it there!?

The problem arises, as ridicully sez, down the road and unplanned for. Now that animal is in the vegetable and it's working. So wild cross mutations DO occur and we now have what? Super weeds that are now also part animal and also resistant to the herbicide. What to do? Further unatural crossbreeding? It's like in Jurassic Park where ol' Jeff G sez, "Life will find a way".

But, that's not what rankles me. Let's face it, the damage is done. We've screwed the pooch, opened Pandora's box, unleashed the Krakan (pick one!). What chaps my hide is the govt preventing me from making a knowledgeable choice. I should be able to accept or reject the ingestion of a product, based on what I know about it, into my body. The govt is preventing this by not allowing me to be informed. It's bad enough we have these secret laws and courts and all that evil, but to make our food a secret, too!? That's unforgivable to the point of criminal and proves our gov.......

Oops! Nevermind. Crank post! ....crank post! ;)

Jun 16, 2013
9:20 AM EDT
> Government regulation is NOT the problem.

No. It's not. Government mis-regulation, on the other hand, contributes greatly.

> The regulation, in theory, should prevent abuse.

In practice, it;s only worked a fairly small percentage of the time.

> The problem is selecting the regulators from those who are supposed to be regulated. That conflict of interest must be legislated out of existence.

I can only wish you good luck with that. I agree that it would be a step in the right direction.

> I am also not at all sold on all the paranoia and fear around GMO crops.

Neither am I. I just have what I hope is a healthy skepticism about their benefits, and a large base of previous examples to draw from as to what can go wrong.

None of which changes the original point that giving a corporation a patent on the basic building blocks of life is nonsensical.

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