Whoever invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant, including cultivated sports, mutants, hybrids, and newly found seedlings, other than a tuber propagated plant or a plant found in an uncultivated state, may obtain a patent therefor, subject to the conditions and requirements of this title.
The provisions of this title relating to patents for inventions shall apply to patents for plants, except as otherwise provided.
This is the law that allows people or corporations to patent life.
The site administrator, Paul Wheaton, has clearly stated his intent to stay clear of political discussion.
This thread offers great potential for becoming political, particularly when the dynamics behind the creation and use of this law are brought to light. Self-moderation of posts will be appropriate in responding here.
The use of GMO and patented crops opens an environmental Pandora's Box. The law allows licensing of crops and penalties for unlicensed use. There are no controls required for preventing cross-pollination of non-GMO crops by growers of GMO crops. Natural growth of plants releases pollen into the wind, from there the genetically modified genes are able to spread, contaminating any and all non-GMO crops which are encountered. Once the genetic material has combined with non-GMO crops, subsequent generations of those plants become the property of the patent owner.
Biodiversity is placed in peril by the existence of this practice. The genetic integrity of heirloom cultivars, typically grown in small quantities on small farms, are at great risk as the variety of patented species expands. The most commonly plants patented so far have been high volume crops: corn, wheat, soy, and canola for example. Today I found a source of patented blueberry plants. One was U.S. Patent PP20,181.
Leaving aside the court/defense/litigation costs which can easily bankrupt a small grower even before a judgment is reached, a reduction in biodiversity resulting from crop contamination affects us all. The ways of nature demand diversity. Plant patenting with uncontrolled release of genetic material into the environment threatens our food system. Currently, 20 species of plants and 10 species of animals account for over 90% of the food humans consume in the world. The law is allowing ownership, not of a single crop, but of an entire species of crop by a select few corporations and individuals.
Cunning, greed, corruption and unscrupulous ethics furthers the endeavors to control our food. It is all too easy for these players to destroy the competition, shut down farms and silence the growers. How far the control of our food will progress is anyone's guess at this point. History shows us that control over a critical resource in the wrong hands is a recipe for disaster. While it may be possible, with monumental effort, to correct the law and stop the use of GM crops, the damage is already done. Whatever is out there already is here to stay come hell or high water. We can't uninvent it. There is no way to get it back into the box.
This whole topic really gets my dander up, but I'll try to remain calm, I promise. I feel that the ability to patent a plant variety, GMO or not, is the most unethical thing that the greed of modern corporations has dreamed up. I save seed because in this location we are totally isolated from commercial farmland, and I feel that these "pockets of protection" are going to be the only thing that saves us from our own scientific folly.
The cost of a legal defense in such cases is used to financially destroy the competition. The patent owners don't have to use the LAW, rather they only have to use the SYSTEM. Right or wrong is less important than the ability to bankrupt the smaller growers. Another tactic in favor of the GM crops is the time it takes to claim copyright infringement. In several cases, by the time the paperwork is first filed, the crop in question has been harvested and sold, with crop residues turned under. Any evidence the grower might use in his defense is routinely destroyed.
See? I can't stay calm about this. I have to turn my full attention towards actively planting and saving heirloom seeds. Or else I cry. I'm considering writing my senator? As if they ever read letters random people send them anyway. Can't get a thing accomplished in washington with out a fully funded lobby group silver spoon feeding it through legislation.