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Patents or Non-Labeling of GMO Foods: Pick One Only

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August 24, 2012

I have discussed genetically modified food a number of times in regards to the outcry for labeling. Obviously people feel they have the right to know what is in their food. However, producers of these genetically modified seeds continue to say that there is nothing to label. “Corn is corn,” as they would say. Organic corn is corn – just as Round-Up Resistent corn is corn.

Even if I fully believed that genetically modified food posed absolutely no health threat to society at all and that the Round Up Resistent corn was just as nutritious, I would still be lobbying for something to change in the GMO industry.

Why? Glad you asked.

History of the Patent

Patents were put into place in our great society to ensure that inventors who put their time and money into creating a product would receive the ability to market it and reap the benefits before anyone else. However, to receive a patent on a product you must prove that it is genuine, novel, useful, and not a copy of someone else’s copyrighted work.

Therefore, when large seed companies went to the patent office to obtain a patent for their genetically modified food product they had to prove these four things existed. This means that in the patenting process the company is asserting that this seed is “novel” – as it must be to receive the patent.

What is the definition of novel? To be new and not resembling something formerly known or used. This means that when one of these companies went to the patenting office to patent their Round Up Resistent corn seed they said it was completely new and did not resemble an item formerly known or used. In this case, it would mean they are saying it does not closely enough resemble corn to affect the patent.

Think on that for just a moment.

Non-Labeling of GMO Products

Now back to the issue of labeling GMO products. People say they want to know what is in their food, but these seed companies tell consumers there is nothing to label. They claim that GMO corn is simply corn with a few added benefits to farmers. Therefore, they feel there is nothing to be labeled, because after all corn is corn.

Putting it All Together

Knowing these seed companies have told the patent office their seeds are so novel that they require a patent, does their assumption that GMO corn is “just corn” make any logical sense? I think that these companies are trying to have the best of all worlds. It can’t be both. Either GMO corn is simply just corn, in which case a patent should not have been given, or GMO corn is a novel product that would then need to be labeled indicating such.

As a consumer you have the ability to change this. Question your legislators on the issue. Ask them how it is possible that large seed corporations can patent a completely novel product but then come back and say there is nothing novel at all about it.

Also use your purchasing power when you enter the grocery store. If the product or company doesn’t say it does not use GMOs, you must assume it does. Call your favorite brands and ask if they use GMOs in their food. If they do, let them know you will not be purchasing their products until that changes.

Do you think that GMOs should be labeled or patents revoked? Are they novel?

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