In the beginning Monsanto patented the earth

Sam SmithHaving been involved in farming on and off much of my life, I was stunned to hear on CSPAN radio the justices of the Supreme Court speaking of soy beans as though they were a product of Monsanto.

At least that’s how it sounded. To be sure, Monsanto had fired a gene gun into some seeds that gave them a friendly attitude towards the corporation’s Roundup herbicide but apparently unrealized by the justices is the fact that soybeans are a product of nature and not of capitalism and the legal system. 

In the portion of the debate I heard, no one bothered to mention this.

As I understood Monsanto’s successful argument, if it invented a DNA twister that would allow inoculated prospective parents to have their child avoid measles, those parents’ payment for the shots would be good for their baby but not for the baby’s children, in which case another license fee would be required even if another shot wasn’t. And all three generations were be considered effectively patented by Monsanto  even if there is more to life than the avoidance of measles. They might even have to wear a shirt that confirmed the fact.

If I were a soybean I would be totally insulted by the court’s decision, for it implies that it is my herbicide resistance and not my delicious and nutritious taste that defines my being.

If I were more godly, I would consider it atrociously anti-Christian. What’s next? In the beginning, Monsanto patented earth?

And as one with some farming experience – including working on an organic beef farm my parents started before Silent Spring – I can promise you I have never heard the term “exhaustion doctrine” used in connection with any living creature or plant until the Supreme Court took up the matter.

There are a lot of other reasons to worry about Monsanto but I’m also worried about a Supreme Court that refers to a plant as a “self-replicating technology” that was “invented” by a corporation.

Did Monsanto plant the seed, care for it, harvest it and sell it?

It’s role in the whole process was, in fact, pretty damn small. That’s the way nature works.

And if you don’t believe me, ask any farmer. Or God.

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