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More Examples Of Patent Incentives Making The World Less Safe

from the hoarding-the-info-needed-to-save-us dept

For years, we've written about how Indonesia has been hoarding bird flu samples and refusing to share them with researchers, because they're afraid that someone will come in and patent the cure, based on the samples they provide, and that will make it much costlier to Indonesia to get the vaccine. Of course, the end result instead might be no vaccine at all... It looks like we may be facing a similar issue with Ug99, a fungus that is aggressively killing wheat crops in Africa and the Middle East -- potentially having a massive impact on global food supplies. FormerAC alerts us to an article about the fight against Ug99, where it's noted that Pakistan won't share some important samples with the rest of the world, again out of fear that some big company will patent what they find:
As the breeders keep tinkering, South Asia is bracing for impact. The CDL recently tried to get its hands on a suspicious P. graminis sample from Pakistan that is said to knock out Sr31. But the country is reluctant to share: "Some countries regard isolates of their pathogens as part of their genetic heritage," CDL director Marty Carson says. "I guess there's a fear that we'll patent something off of it."
Well, given Monsanto's history of patenting disease resistant crops -- and then over-aggressively attacking anyone who uses such crops (even accidentally), it would seem like a rather legitimate fear. Perhaps, rather than brushing this fear off, the USDA's Cereal Disease Laboratory (CDL) should work to do something to fix things?

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Mar 2010 @ 6:10am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: stupid capitalists don't get it

    The fact is that there is absolutely nothing supporting the notion that patents help innovation and you know it. You just want your monopoly rents, just like the RIAA, and would come up with anything (ie: like the idea that piracy undermines humanitarian efforts in Hati) to persuade people to give you your unearned monopoly rents. That's all this is and you know it, just like with the RIAA and the cableco companies who don't want competition who would also claim anything, no matter how much of a lie it is, to convince people that it isn't the government sanctioned lack of competition that causes the U.S. to fall behind in broadband but it has something to do with population density (despite the fact that states with much higher population densities in the U.S. have worse broadband plans than countries with much lower population densities abroad, but they fail to mention that). There is incentive for you to lie, you want your monopoly rents, and I understand this but you must realize that patents cause a known economic harm and there is plenty of evidence suggesting they only harm innovation so in order for them to exist the burden of proof is on YOU to justify them.

    Not to mention 20 years is way too long being that the present value of future returns 20 years from now is hardly enough to justify further current investment in anything. A present value analysis alone should refute a twenty year patent length.

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