Re: SOC: AgBio industry may have tied their own hangman's noose

David Blenkinsop (
Sun, 10 Oct 1999 02:23:24 -0600

On Thursday, Oct 7, 1999, wrote:

> Biotech Scare Is Industry's Fault
> By Henry I. Miller
> Copyright 1998 Wall Street Journal
> December 16, 1998
> In the early 1980s, a few major agrochemical-biotechnology companies, led by
> Monsanto,
> requested more-restrictive regulation . . .
> . . . They argued that there is something fundamentally
> different and worrisome about genetically engineered crops, and disputed the
> consensus among the international scientific community that the new
> biotechnology is no more than an extension of earlier techniques, posing
> little risk and much promise.
> . . .
> The market for agbiotech products is being undermined and distorted by
> overregulation and the public misapprehensions that it engenders. Ironically,
> both are the industry's own Frankensteinian creation.

Wow, this *does* sounds like a kind of illegitimate government/business collusion, or a failed tactic by Monsanto to arrange things that way, the idea being that more environmental regulations would help them to monitor the use of their "intellectual property"? Now, I'm not totally against "intellectual property" if it means that corporations treat one another's technical investments fairly. However, this whole Monsanto thing seems almost like a case study in stupid "intellectual property" territorialism, trying to defend something that can fundamentally be *copied*, i.e., a technology, against all comers. If the above quoted article is true, they've done this "hold the high ground" strategy so "well" that they've risked destroying their whole business, promoting over-regulation and public opposition! For a link on how badly they've treated their immediate customers, the farmers, try, notice how they even seem to expect farmers to repel "patented" pollen away from their canola fields!

One point that occurs to me is that on Oct 1st Eugene Leitl cross posted an NGS-D article by Will Ware suggesting that technical patents could be done away with, if companies like Monsanto could just keep their technologies safe as a trade secret, then offer stock options of a sort against the possibility of finally releasing such secrets to the public. Is this a sound possibility, and are there other possible schemes for getting rid of "intellectual property"? Or, maybe "intellectual property" would work better, if only companies would do it right? I don't think companies should always just grab one another's hard technical work for free, but maybe industry anti-espionage guidelines, combined with ideas like Will Ware's, would work better than someone defending an idea or a technique as "mine, mine, all mine"??

David Blenkinsop <>