Patent-like claims on two coloured cotton varieties raise many questions and concerns about the ownership and control of coloured cotton, and the lack of compensation for indigenous knowledge and germplasm from the South.
Importance of Cotton as a Foreign Exchange Earner. What Impact on Farmers?
Agracetus, a subsidiary of W.R. Grace, receives a shockingly broad US patent covering all genetically engineered cotton varieties. This is the first reported case where one patent covers all transgenic plants of an entire species.
Early Warning for Third World Farmers. Update: Bovine Growth Hormone in Mexico
Genpharm claims that its bio-engineered human proteins have the potential to make infant formula more "nutritionally complete." Will infant formula manufacturers revive unethical marketing practices that have led to death and illness for millions of children in the Third World?
Preservation Versus Conservation; Intellectual Property Rights
RAFI warns that the Human Genome Diversity Project's outrageous proposal to collect human DNA from 722 communities around the world has serious implications for indigenous peoples. Will profits be made from the genes of poor people whose physical survival is in question? Who will have access and what benefits will accrue to indigenous communities?
What Benefit for Ethiopia? New and Controversial Developments in Intellectual Property
The University of Toledo applies for a patent on Ethiopia's Endod to control zebra mussels, but royalties will not go to the plant's original innovators.
Early Warning for East African Pyrethrum Farmers
Research on genetic engineering of Pyrethrins, the insecticidal compounds derived from the pyrethrum flower (Chrysanthemum spp.) . A US based biotechnology company seeks to produce "unlimited supplies of pyrethrin" in the laboratory.
In 1987 RAFI first reported on the efforts of two biotech companies to produce natural vanilla flavor in the laboratory. If commercially successful, this technology could displace over 70,000 farmers who grow vanilla beans in Madagascar. Here is RAFI's update four years later.
The USDA's Terminator Defence
Embarrassed by the deluge of more than 1850 letters from concerned farmers, scientists, and other individuals from 54 countries, the USDA's "Fact Sheet" is a muted re-hash with no new arguments or data.
Seed industry rankings have a shorter shelf life than tomatoes. As RAFI predicted, the frenetic pace of seed industry mergers has made our list of major seed companies and their subsidiaries out of date in a matter of weeks (see the July/August RAFI Communique, Seed Industry Consolidation).
So Bad, Even Monsanto Can't put a Spin on It
Monsanto appears apoplectic in the face of global criticism over the seed-killing Terminator technology. In recent weeks the company has taken a drubbing across the globe, from India to New Zealand, Zimbabwe, the UK, and even in cyberspace. But so far Monsanto's legendary spinmasters have been unable to counter the criticism and articulate any good reason why the world needs the Terminator. Who, after all, wants a dead seed?
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