What real piracy looks like: biopirate loses patent over century-old latinamerican staple crop


34 Responses to “What real piracy looks like: biopirate loses patent over century-old latinamerican staple crop”

  1. JB NicholsonOwens says:

    These companies are more properly known as bio-privateers, not bio-pirates:

    It is indeed wrong for biotech companies to convert the world’s natural genetic resources into private monopolies–but the wrong is not a matter of taking someone else’s rightful property, it is a matter of privatizing what ought to be public. These companies are not biopirates. They are bioprivateers.

  2. Red Leatherman says:

    Obviously Loosing the patent rights for a seed, how ignorant to even try to patent a seed or naturally occurring biologic when your name isn’t Monsanto.

  3. Anonymous says:

    If you think that’s evil, check into what Monsanto has been up to.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Enola beans? Man, they must cause serious explosions.

  5. Anonymous says:


    “real Intellectual Property Theft”

    Real piracy is what they do off the coast of Somalia

  6. ill lich says:

    I’m in the wrong business.

  7. Anonymous says:

    How can you patent prior art?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Has it been struck down retroactively? i.e. Can the importers create a class action suit to have tolls returned?
    The patent system is too old to effectively apply at the genome or software level, people like Larry Proctor prove that.

  9. johnphantom says:

    What I don’t understand is how someone/company can patent something they had nothing to do with creating.

    Monsanto is a horrible company, foisting genetically modified soy beans that are modified to resist the pesticides Monsanto makes.

    I won’t eat or drink soy – too much of Monsanto playing God with soy…

  10. Anonymous says:

    It’s a strange coincidence that my old boss, Dan Kevles, got a shout-out in the previous post (on eugenics) and is now working on a history of the topic outlined in this post, the patenting of biological organisms. Larry Proctor sounds like a real sleaze ball, but the issue gets more complicated and less clear-cut very quickly. For example, Starbucks has been trying to patent certain indigenous African coffee beans (boo!!!). But when these seeds are recognized as a commodity that can be owned (which has been the case since the plant patent act of 1930) one starts to wonder if a trust could be established to protect and enrich ethiopian coffee-growers, or another collective group. Would it be better if these things were seen legally as common resources and un-ownable? Perhaps, but if Monsanto and other corporations have the right to patent seeds they develop and enrich themselves, why should indigenous groups, peasants and struggling farmers miss out on the profits that come from commodification?

  11. jgreenhall says:

    #7, go back to #5. Its time for a complete re-architecture. The legacy intellectual property system is simply over its head and trying to kludge it around modern issues is a recipe for injustice and disaster.

    Lets take it down to brass tacks – what are our objectives, what are our tools, how do the variables interact? As you point out, the problem is endlessly complexified by the historical economic and political context that has co-emerged with it.

    Which implies that the re-architecture is going to have to be extensive.

  12. shadowfirebird says:

    “Hello, yes, patent office”

    “Hi, I found these beans lying on the floor in mexico. Despite being completely edible, no-one there has ever grown or eaten the beans in the last 50,000-odd years. I’d like to patent them.”

    “What do you take me for, sir? An idiot?”

    So, why didn’t this happen?

  13. Anonymous says:

    shouldn’t prior art be easily determined?

  14. Anonymous says:

    why is Latin America spelled “latinamerica” several times here? Is this new? Is it supposed to be some kind of challenge to colonialism in language?

    I don’t like it. I think it’s ungraceful and silly.

  15. cmaceachen says:

    @6, there is plenty of organic, non-GMO soy out there.

    Monsanto has it down to an art. Sell farmers insecticides and herbicides that’ll kill everything but their GMO crop. Sell farmers the GMO seed. If the farmer doesn’t buy again next year, go check his crop to see if he saved any seed and replanted or if any just happened to grow back naturally. Sue. While you’re there, check the neighboring farms for cross-pollination. Sue. Repeat.

  16. Hans says:

    Patent abuse and drug patents need to be front and center of any Pirate Party platform. It is not clear to most people that patents and copyrights are killing people. Not indirectly killing people, not sort-of kind-of killing people, but directly taking drugs out of the hands of the sick and food out of the mouths of the starving. Directly killing people.

    33 million people with HIV, most of whom can not get proper treatment because of prohibitions on the local manufacture of drugs which, due to overwhelming poverty, drug companies could not market locally anyway.

    Yes, I think the RIAA sucks, but at least they are not responsible for the deaths of millions.

    Now that is a catchy slogan.

  17. Spencer Cross says:

    Glad to hear there’s some positive resolution to this story, but when did we start calling it “latinamerica?”

  18. george57l says:

    If Latin America is too much to type, what with all those different case letters and spaces and all, why not just type LA? Oh, wait …

  19. PaulR says:

    shadowfirebird @ 9:
    Because if you wear an Armani suit (as the Madoff/Ponzi scheme made abundantly clear), then everything you say is gospel and unquestioned.

  20. Brainspore says:

    My hope is that Proctor does appeal this decision to the Supreme Court and loses. If everything works out just right it could create a legal precedent making it illegal to patent a life form.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Patenting food and using the legal systems of rich countries to enforce said patents( read: the might makes right concept ) against humanity is an evil of epic proportions. It sets up a Stalin-esque control hierarchy that will only lead to horrific abuse.

    These kinds of ideas need to be purged from humanity. Oh, the irony in that.

  22. Anonymous says:

    It’s not even that bad for Monsanto if all of this crap was outlawed. Even if they only sold a single batch of GMO seed to any given farmer, they still get to sell their “blades” — the pesticides themselves — which are consumables.

    From what I can see, this patent was informed by a pervasive American attitude that only American uses, laws, and copyrights count. To some, America is not the center of the universe, America *is* the universe!

    As for the CIAT, I just wanna know if they have my fuzzy peaches!

  23. Anonymous says:

    To receive a patent takes funding. Was this just a hoax that Larry Proctor used to get attention. Any proper educated person knows he would have had to generate this bean on his own and prove the bean to be safe for human consumption, then have funding to enforce the misuse of this product under his patenting. Can I patent water and get a monatary return for its use and profits from all who have profited….

  24. Anonymous says:

    There’s a huge difference between patenting a seed that has existed as a regional cultivar for hundreds of years, and creating a brand new crop using millions of dollars of research and enforcing the patent.

  25. Anonymous says:

    I’m also curious about why the article calls Latin America “latinamerica”. Where did that come from? Besides being just bad grammar, that seems a bit disrespectful, too.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Imagine using chinampas to save lake Chad.
    Chinampas could decrease the surface area of the lake making it deeper, create shade and a windbreak, and provide an alternative livelyhood for the people that rely on the lake.

    Just a thought . . .

  27. insert says:

    This is slightly tangential, but I wonder if any farmers sued for growing soy/maize cross-pollinated from patented Monsanto stock have ever sued their neighbors for trespass. The trespassing pollen certainly caused a harm which was not de minimis.

  28. Anonymous says:

    I would like to see someone genetically investigate some of the worst offenders, like this Larry Proctor, find certain genetic characteristics that he exhibits- that are unique to him, then file for a patent on that particular combination of genes without naming the person it came from in the patent application- just using some generic scientific lingo. Once awarded, that person could lay claim to everything Larry Proctor has achieved and possibly make him pay for “usage of patented gene combination” for the rest of his life.

  29. Anonymous says:

    stumbled arcoss website …interesting, mind provolking, liked the pic of two hands with beans. Classic example of what happened to the weight of a gentlemans word….

  30. Anonymous says:

    This is one of the many problems that occurs when we allow the patenting of life in general. The whole idea is f-ed up.

  31. Anonymous says:

    For me, the saddest thing about this article is the realization that, of the number of Americans reading it, a significant portion of them are probably admiring Larry Proctor and trying to think of something similar they could pull.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Brainspore, and you KNOW that won’t happen …

  33. Sork says:

    Solution – just stop selling stuff to US. Why would the world care about US laws?

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