Unearthed: Are patents the problem?

If you’re at the right party — a party populated by agriculture wonks — the issue of patenting living organisms might get more of a rise than either religion or politics, demonstrating both that patenting is a hot issue and that agriculture wonks aren’t much of a hit at parties (trust me on this one).

A 1980 Supreme Court decision that allowed patents to be granted to living things kicked off the controversy. The basic genetic materials of the things we eat have been around, and have been tinkered with, for millennia, and the idea that a new version of one of them could earn protection that would prevent farmers from saving seed and, perhaps, give the patent holder inordinate control over our food supply has raised a number of concerns. I’m going to tackle the ones that seem to worry people most.

Read more in the Washington Post »