Jun 23

The problem started with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case Diamond v. Chakrabarty (1980). Suddenly it was OK to patent life forms, were before life forms were considered a part of nature and were not patentable.

This ruling lead to corporations patenting the genes of everything they can think of that could later on bring them profit.


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Should conventional breeding techniques be patentable?

German Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner has spoken out against the patenting of varieties of livestock and plants. Her comments come as the European Patent Office prepares to rule in a test case with far-reaching implications for biological patents in Europe.

The German government wants to prevent the patenting of agricultural livestock and plants. “There are limits that we should not cross,” Germany’s Minister of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection Ilse Aigner told SPIEGEL. In order to preserve genetic variety, farmers and breeders should not be handcuffed by biological patents, she argues.

Aigner, who is a member of the conservative Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, wants to make European rules regarding biological patents more precise. Although the agriculture minister does not oppose the patenting of new breeding procedures, she argues that the resulting whole organisms should not be patentable.

She is supported in her position by the parliamentary group of the opposition center-left Social Democrats (SPD). The SPD even goes one step further, arguing that neither conventional breeding methods nor whole organisms should be patentable. Continue reading »

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Jul 17

Beef prices are likely to increase as rising food and fuel prices threaten many cattle ranches

The American beef industry is in trouble. Though the financial strain of rising fuel and food prices is being widely felt across the U.S. economy, the livestock industry, which consumes about 5 billion bushels of corn annually, is suffering more than most.

Feedlot operators, who fatten their animals on corn before sending them to a slaughterhouse, are losing $150 a head with corn prices near record levels because of demand for corn-based ethanol. In Texas, the country’s largest beef-producing state, a quarter of the once-packed feedlot space is unoccupied. Some operations are shutting their doors, and “liquidation”-the culling of herds-has become a frequent escape hatch for the seriously struggling.

Continue reading »

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Jul 17

“Production has been halved to 300 kilos (661 pounds) per 1,000 square meters (250 acres), even in well-irrigated parts of the region, as rainfall declined to one-fortieth of normal levels, Referans daily said on Wednesday, citing farmers and farming associations.”

The government has selected 35 of its 81 provinces as eligible for financial assistance, Erdogan said. Farmers who have lost more than 30 percent of their harvest to drought can claim assistance and also postpone any agricultural loan payments by a year, he added. Continue reading »

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