> But what if I was a canola farmer and wanted to save my
> own seed and it didn't germinate because the terminator
> gene blew into my field from 8 kilometres away? Would
> I have a case?
It appears that the producer of the seed is responsible for arranging
sufficent isolation in time and space. Genetic pollution from foreign
pollen is nothing new. Seed production (except in the case of
self-pollinated species) always carries this risk. Isolation can be very
expensive. In practice, it is often finessed through a combination of
temporal isolation (different flowering dates), and gentlemens agreements to
block compatible varieties into large geographic units. Communication among
neighbors and fieldmen is crucial. If you decide to save your seed without
advanced planning and community involvement, you will likely have a problem,
and it will be your problem.
The danger is great with bee pollinated crops such as canola since insect
behavior is unpredictable. Isolation distances of up to 3 miles are used to
isolate different color onions for example. Local government can be
mobilized to protect industries. For example, production of canola in Idaho
is geographically restricted according to type, and several counties in SW
Idaho hunt down and eradicate wild carrot in support of the seed industry.
In all these cases, the risk is contamination with a few percent of the
outcross, rarely a large percentage. Of course, a few percent wild-domestic
cross carrots in a carrot field, or glufosinate-sensitive corn in a
supposedly resistant field could cause serious problems for farmers using
> How can Monsanto claim to retain "ownership' of their
> precious transgenes when the pollen is so very mobile?
> Is this where Terminator, comes in?
You bet! IMO, a lethal mutation like the Monsanto terminator system makes
avoiding contamination much easier. A few percent dead seeds in your seed
crop is much preferable to a few percent off-types. What's more, such a
system would greatly reduce the possibility of transferring herbicide
resistance genes to wild relatives.
> If a neighbouring farmer "captured" the Bt or glyphosate
> tolerance genes, saved the seeds and sold them, would
> Monsanto really be in a good position to sue?
I believe Monsanto thinks so. I guess the idea is that the USE of certain
intellectual property is protected by the patent. Just having the gene
contaminating your crop is not infringement, but using it to allow herbicide
application is. Granted, it will be difficult to enforce.
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