Archive for March, 2005

Sue Everyone for your genetic pollution

Monday, March 28th, 2005

How to fuck up the world and sue anyone else for it


A how to guide on polluting the world with your genetic creations, and sue everyone else for it, thanks to patents. It seems to me a lot of abominations which are generally attributed to genetics are actually effects of patents.

Keeping things closed

In the beginning, the world was simple. You had your bacteria, spliced
in the extracted or artificially made gene-sequence for producing
insuline, and you’ve got yourself something like a perpetuum mobile,
a living colony of bacteria endlessly churning out insuline. Put it
in tanks, and with relatively low cost, you can produce a worlds
supply of insuline. As long as your bacteria don’t get stolen, leak
out, or somebody else engineers something similar as well, that is.

In any way, in that scenario, you have a very strong incentive to
keep the product of your research by yourself. Since a leak, some
missing bacteria could cost you a fortune. This changes only if
something else happens:

Patents, Hooray!

With patents, you are granted a 20 year monopoly on anything you
might be granted a patent on. Most notable, you don’t have to be
the one who invented it, but only the first to apply for a patent.
And not only will keep a patent all your competitioners from stealing
the fruits of your labour, no, it also keeps them from finding these
things out by themselves, or applying them to anything without
paying you royalties — which you may or may not grant, since,
after all, its competition, and you might just not want the competition
to produce insuline as well. Might ruin your monopoly.

Neatly enough also, theres billions of species nobody ever has seen on
this planet. Since the patent-office does not know them, you just can go,
scour the amazonas and patent whatever new life-form you might find.

But now comes the best thing of all: You don’t have to give a damn what
happens to your creations. Set it loose, doesn’t matter, nobody can
make any profit out of it, since you got the monopoly on it. And if
somebody uses your product by accident he’s also eligible for a lawsuit!

Ain’t it perfect? Produce genetically enhanced grain which is immune to
a certain pestizide but infertile, sell it and the corresponding
pestizide, and sell both each year again. However, those damned
Aerobacteria you used to splice the genes into the grain in the first
place are at work out in the field too, and as it happens, the other
grain gets to get genes from your grain, and starts to get immune to
the pestizide as well, whereas your grain gets the capability for
reproduction back, plus along the way, some pests get immune to the
pestizide as well. No Problem! You just fucked up a whole ecosystem,
but thanks patents, everyone involved is now in violation of the patent
law and you can sue them blind.

Peter Keel,