Companies Play the IP Card to Thwart Research on GM Crops and Seeds

seedsA group of university scientists issued a complaint against some biotechnology companies who use intellectual property claims to keep them from conducting research on the effectiveness and environmental effects of their genetically modified crops and seeds.

On the one hand, companies are playing the patent card to protect their interests. They are spending fortunes to do research. They are investing a lot of money and time on the trial-and-error tests. They are exhausting significant amounts of their resources just to get the results they want for their business. They have every right to protect their interest. They have all the right to put some restrictions on how their products are used.

On the other hand, the academe sees this move by biotechnology companies as not promoting progress in genetic engineering, but hindering it. As scholarly individuals, there is a need for them to examine whether the genetically engineered crops and seeds produced by these companies pose threats to health and the environment.

That the companies are preventing university scientists to conduct third party and unbiased evaluations about the long term effects of genetically engineered products begs the question. What are they afraid the researchers will find out?

Until they open up for a third party research, the public will be left thinking that something is wrong with those engineered crops and seeds. Do they produce natural toxins? Would they wipe out local ecosystems? The patent issue is not always about protecting interests and investments. Sometimes it is about making sure companies are not putting poison in our mouth while smiling and taking our money.

Many observers say that we are witnessing the natural evolution of IP from inventive incentive to protecting investments and interests. It seems that people now need more than just a patent. It looks as if they want is to fully own everything related to their inventions. Many patent holders are very much focused on profits.

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