Presenter Information

Kelsey Gibbs

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Location

SURC Ballroom B/C/D

Start Date

21-5-2015

End Date

21-5-2015

Keywords

Patent, Policy, Analysis

Abstract

Protecting intellectual integrity of inventions is not a new concept. Protection in the form of patents dates as early as Ancient Greece. In the United States, patent laws have a very broad scope that have been very loosely interpreted. These laws were designed to protect man-made innovations. Until the 1980s this principle has been upheld. In 1980, a Supreme Court case ruled that a bacteria had been genetically modified by the insertion of genes. The inserted genes transformed the bacteria from a product of nature to a commodity. This case opened a floodgate of patents sought for genetically modified organisms. A patent is a mutually beneficial agreement between inventors and society. In exchange for full disclosure about a product, the inventor is granted a limited monopoly on a product. The shift that occurred in 1980, allowing a patent on genes, started a monopoly over plants and crops. Allowing patents on living organisms is causing a monopoly over certain crops. This monopoly is causing too many farmers to lose their livelihood due to patent infringement. The ethical debate regarding GMOs is constant; however, the real concern should be the ability to patent these genes. Allowing the patenting of genes is a slippery slope that has potential to devastate the food supply and subject farmers to a lifetime of debt and lawsuits. The purpose of this presentation is to analyze current patent laws with regards to genetically modified organisms and propose alternatives to protect farmers from unintentional patent infringement.

Poster Number

68

Faculty Mentor(s)

Rex Wirth

Department/Program

Environmental Studies

Additional Mentoring Department

Political Science

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May 21st, 11:30 AM May 21st, 2:00 PM

Patenting Genes: Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

SURC Ballroom B/C/D

Protecting intellectual integrity of inventions is not a new concept. Protection in the form of patents dates as early as Ancient Greece. In the United States, patent laws have a very broad scope that have been very loosely interpreted. These laws were designed to protect man-made innovations. Until the 1980s this principle has been upheld. In 1980, a Supreme Court case ruled that a bacteria had been genetically modified by the insertion of genes. The inserted genes transformed the bacteria from a product of nature to a commodity. This case opened a floodgate of patents sought for genetically modified organisms. A patent is a mutually beneficial agreement between inventors and society. In exchange for full disclosure about a product, the inventor is granted a limited monopoly on a product. The shift that occurred in 1980, allowing a patent on genes, started a monopoly over plants and crops. Allowing patents on living organisms is causing a monopoly over certain crops. This monopoly is causing too many farmers to lose their livelihood due to patent infringement. The ethical debate regarding GMOs is constant; however, the real concern should be the ability to patent these genes. Allowing the patenting of genes is a slippery slope that has potential to devastate the food supply and subject farmers to a lifetime of debt and lawsuits. The purpose of this presentation is to analyze current patent laws with regards to genetically modified organisms and propose alternatives to protect farmers from unintentional patent infringement.