Monsanto files patent for new invention: the pig


Richard Moore

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Monsanto files patent for new invention: the pig
Greenpeace researcher uncovers chilling patent plans
02 August 2005

The Earth is flat, pigs were invented by Monsanto, and genetically modified 
organisms are safe. Right.

GENEVA, Switzerland ‹ It's official. Monsanto Corporation is out to own the 
world's food supply, the dangers of genetic engineering and reduced biodiversity
notwithstanding, as they pig-headedly set about hog-tying farmers with their 
monopoly plans. We've discovered chilling new evidence of this in recent patents
that seek to establish ownership rights over pigs and their offspring.

In the crop department,  Monsanto is well on their way to dictating what 
consumers will eat, what farmers will grow, and how much Monsanto will get paid 
for seeds. In some cases those seeds are designed not to reproduce sowable 
offspring. In others, a flock of lawyers stand ready to swoop down on farmers 
who illegally, or even unknowingly, end up with Monsanto's private property 
growing in their fields.

One way or another, Monsanto wants to make sure no food is grown that they don't
own -- and the record shows they don't care if it's safe for the environment or 
not. Monsanto has aggressively set out to bulldoze environmental concerns about 
its genetically engineered (GE) seeds at every regulatory level.

So why stop in the field? Not content to own the pesticide and the herbicide and
the crop, they've made a move on the barnyard by filing two patents which would 
make the corporate giant the sole owner of that famous Monsanto invention: the 

The Monsanto Pig (Patent pending)

The patent applications were published in February 2005 at the World 
Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in Geneva. A Greenpeace researcher who
monitors patent applications, Christoph Then, uncovered the fact that Monsanto 
is seeking patents not only on methods of breeding, but on actual breeding herds
of pigs as well as the offspring that result.

"If these patents are granted, Monsanto can legally prevent breeders and farmers
from breeding pigs whose characteristics are described in the patent claims, or 
force them to pay royalties," says Then. "It's a first step toward the same kind
of corporate control of an animal line that Monsanto is aggressively pursuing 
with various grain and vegetable lines."

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There are more than 160 countries and territories mentioned where the patent is 
sought including Europe, the Russian Federation, Asia (India, China, 
Philippines) America (USA, Brazil, Mexico), Australia and New Zealand. WIPO 
itself can only receive applications, not grant patents.  The applications are 
forwarded to regional patent offices.

The patents are based on simple procedures, but are incredibly broad in their 

In one application (WO 2005/015989 to be precise) Monsanto is describing very 
general methods of crossbreeding and selection, using artificial insemination 
and other breeding methods which are already in use.  The main "invention" is 
nothing more than a particular combination of these elements designed to speed 
up the breeding cycle for selected traits, in order to make the animals more 
commercially profitable. (Monsanto chirps gleefully about lower fat content and 
higher nutritional value. But we've looked and we couldn't find any 
"Philanthropic altruism" line item in their annual reports, despite the fact 
that it's an omnipresent factor in their advertising.)

According to Then, "I couldn't belive this. I've been reviewing patents for 10 
years and I had to read this three times.  Monsanto isn't just seeking a patent 
for the method, they are seeking a patent on the actual pigs which are bred from
this method.  It's an astoundingly broad and dangerous claim."

Good breeding always shows

Take patent application WO 2005/017204. This refers to pigs in which a certain 
gene sequence related to faster growth is detected. This is a variation on a 
natural occurring sequence -- Monsanto didn't invent it.

It was first identified in mice and humans. Monsanto wants to use the detection 
of this gene sequence to screen pig populations, in order to find which animals 
are likely to produce more pork per pound of feed. (And that will be Monsanto 
Brand genetically engineered feed grown from Monsanto Brand genetically 
engineered seed raised in fields sprayed with Monsanto Brand Roundup Ready 
herbicide and doused with Monsanto Brand pesticides, of course).

But again, Monsanto wants to own not just the selection and breeding method, not
just the information about the genetic indicators, but, if you pardon the 
expression, the whole hog.

  €  Claim 16 asks for a patent on: "A pig offspring produced by a method ..."

€  Claim 17 asks for a patent on: "A pig herd having an increased frequency of a
specific ...gene..."

  €  Claim 23 asks for a patent on: "A pig population produced by the method..."

  €  Claim 30 asks for a patent on: "A swine herd produced by a method..."

This means the pigs, their offspring, and the use of the genetic information for
breeding will be entirely owned by Monsanto, Inc. and any replication or 
infringement of their patent by man or beast will mean royalties or jail for the
offending swine.

Not pig fodder

When it comes to profits, pigs are big. Monsanto notes that "The economic impact
of the industry in rural America is immense. Annual farm sales typically exceed 
US$ 11 billion, while the retail value of pork sold to consumers reaches US$ 38 
billion each year."

At almost every level of food production, Monsanto is seeking a monopoly 

The company once earned its money almost exclusively through agrochemicals. But 
in the last ten years they've spent about US$ 10 billion buying up seed 
producers and companies in other sectors of the agricultural business. Their 
last big acquisition was Seminis, the biggest producer of vegetable seeds in the

Monsanto holds extremely broad patents on seeds, most, but not all of them, 
related to Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). Monsanto has also claimed 
patent rights on such non-Monsanto inventions as traditionally bred wheat from 
India and soy plants from China. Many of these patents apply not only to the use
of seeds but all uses of the plants and harvest that result.

Monsanto's GMO corn threatens biodiversity.

Orwellian: "The Earth is flat, pigs were invented by Monsanto, and GMOs are 

The big picture is chilling to anyone who mistrusts Monsanto's record 
disinterest for environmental safety.

And if you're not worried, you should be: central control of food supply has 
been a standard ingredient for social and political control throughout history. 
By creating a monopoly position, Monsanto can force dangerous experiments like 
the release of GMOs into the environment on an unwilling public. They can ensure
that GMOs will be sold and consumed wherever they say they will.

By claiming global monopoly patent rights throughout the entire food chain, 
Monsanto seeks to make farmers and food producers, and ultimately consumers, 
entirely dependent and reliant on one single corporate entity for a basic human 
need. It's the same dependence that Russian peasants had on the Soviet 
Government following the Russian revolution. The same dependence that French 
peasants had on Feudal kings during the middle ages. But control of a 
significant proportion of the global food supply by a single corporation would 
be unprecedented in human history.

It's time to ensure that doesn't happen.
It's time for a global ban of patents on seeds and farm animals.
It's time to tell Monsanto we've had enough of this hogwash.

‹ Brian Thomas Fitzgerald

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