Author Topic: Patented Hops  (Read 4649 times)

Offline gmac

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Re: Patented Hops
« Reply #15 on: February 04, 2012, 02:26:26 PM »
My assumption (risky, I know) is that these patents would be similar to the patents Cargill and ADM and others have on their pest resistant grains. 

My understanding is that these are GMOs where the DNA is altered so that the seeds that they sell do not produce seed plants (thus you need to keep coming back to Cargill) and that they have also modified the base plant by adding pesticide or whatever to the DNA such that it becomes the pest resistant variety.

Thus, the patent isn't necessarily on corn seed but on corn seed that has been genetically modified in a specific way.  They further protect this patent by making sure that the seeds they sell are sterile.

It's been years since I studied up on this, though, so I may be missing some of the exact technical details.



Sorry, gotta explain this one because there's a few basic pieces of mis-information in here.
Plants can and often are patented.  I am sure that these hops are patented which will provide 20 years protection.  PVP is another form of protection that is related to the breeder and breeding of crops.

The alteration of the gene to prevent fertile progeny that you mention doesn't really exist, at least not in any commercial crop.  The media called this the "Terminator" gene a few years ago to make it sound nice and scary and the technology does exist but it has never been put into a commercial product.  The reason for it is not to keep people from re-using the seed.  It was developed in anticipation of bio-pharmaceuticals and other traits that you don't want entering the food system and this prevents them from being used accidentally and entering the food system.  If you had a corn plant that produced insulin for example, you would want to control that production much differently than normal corn.  Like I said, that technology has never been commercialized.

To better explain the pest resistant corn that you mention, the corn has had genes from Bacillus thuringensis added to them that codes for the production of crystal proteins that are toxic in the alkaline gut of insects.  That is why they are so specific.  So, the "pesticide" isn't really in there but the protein that the plants produce is toxic to the insects. 

Corn is a hybrid crop meaning that if you keep the corn that you see growing in the field, you will not have the same crop next year.  It just doesn't work that way from a genetics standpoint.  Hybrids are uniform but the F2 progeny will begin to segregate based on basic Mendelian genetic principles.  Hybrids provide far more yield and better agronomics than open pollinated corn which is why everyone uses it, not because of patents. 

Regarding hops, by patenting the crop this ensures that the developers will have 20 years to re-coup their investments.  Whether or not you would ever see them on the market depends entirely on whether the developers see more opportunity for profit from broadly licensing the product or from maintaining control of it.

Offline richardt

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Re: Patented Hops
« Reply #16 on: February 04, 2012, 08:50:57 PM »
The point of contention seems to be if we (the taxpayers on the state and federal level) are paying for the R&D on good germplasms by Public Researchers which then gets "privatized"  and "patented" by private growers who claim "proprietary" rights and won't disclose their plant parentage, then the public has been wronged.  The challenge, of course, is to be able to prove that theft, fraud, deception, etc. actually occured.  IANAL, though.

Perhaps, in the future, DNA analysis will help sort out these issues.

Generally speaking, allowing individuals or organizations to patent "genes" is a bad idea, IMO.
Genes are not "created." I have no problem with "credit" being given to those who understand pollination/hybridization/Mendellian genetics with creating new plants, i.e., with naming rights to the new subspecies.

However, it is a slippery slope from plant genetics and patents to human genes and patents.

I feel strongly that human genes should never be allowed to be patented by any individual or organization.

Offline denny

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Re: Patented Hops
« Reply #17 on: February 05, 2012, 10:12:55 AM »
Actually DNA analysis is already being used on hops.  That's how it was determined that Columbus=Tomahawk=Zeus.
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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Patented Hops
« Reply #18 on: February 05, 2012, 12:03:08 PM »
and segments of the human genome have already been patented.
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Offline nateo

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Re: Patented Hops
« Reply #19 on: February 05, 2012, 12:55:38 PM »
and segments of the human genome have already been patented.

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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Patented Hops
« Reply #20 on: February 06, 2012, 12:53:37 AM »
and segments of the human genome have already been patented.
The validity of a lot of these patents is in question though, so it remains to be seen what will happen.
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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Patented Hops
« Reply #21 on: February 06, 2012, 09:02:40 AM »
and segments of the human genome have already been patented.
The validity of a lot of these patents is in question though, so it remains to be seen what will happen.

that's good to hear! Apparently there have also been quite a few patents on ancient 'heirloom' varieties of plants of late. It's big business to find a 1000 year old variety of corn in mexico and patent it. patents on plants is the worst idea ever in my opinion. without getting political it just seems a bad idea for all food (and it will end up being all food) to be owned by private individuals/organizations.
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