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GM potatoes in Ireland and Europe – The Patent Holders
Tracking the money and power behind the science.
A look at the ongoing GM potato trials in Ireland, the European context, a little bit of history and analysis as well as important information on patent holders.
This article is presented as a work in progress. In the spirit of open source research and the liberation of all life it is hoped that others will build on and disseminate this information.
This project is an EU wide one involving, 22 partners in 15 EU countries and Argentina. It is called the AMIGA project; http://www.amigaproject.eu/web/partners/ and is co-ordinated by an Italian organisation called ENEA; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ENEA_%28Italy%29, http://old.enea.it/com/ingl/default.htm and funded by an EU Framework Programme, FP7; http://cordis.europa.eu/fp7/home_en.html (Tracking where this money comes from exactly might be a useful avenue of research). It involves transferring genes from within the potato family to create blight resistant potatoes. This process is known as cisgenic modification as opposed to transgenic, which involves gene transfer from outside biological families. The specific gene involved here is referred to as Rpi-vnt1.1.
The justification given for undertaking this work is to reduce the need for anti-fungal spraying against the blight organism Phytophthora infestans which apparently causes losses of e15 million per year in this country. http://www.epa.ie/news/pr/2012/name,33726,en.html
At first glance this appears to be a very different kettle of fish from the GM sugar beet that was planted, and in several cases dug up again or sprayed with herbicide in this country back in the late 90s. http://www.rte.ie/news/1999/0816/monsanto.html
Back then the project was clearly fronted by a well-known and widely -hated trans-national corporation, Monsanto. This time around there is little surface evidence of any corporate involvement. The picture being painted is one of dedicated scientists doing important research. This is mirrored in criticisms aimed at anti –GM protestors as being irrational, sentimental and anti-science . http://www.newsy.com/videos/are-anti-gm-wheat-protester...ence/ Another criticism leveled at protestors is that they are selfishly denying starving Africans the right to grow GM crops to feed themselves. http://billycarmichael.blogspot.ie/2012/07/feeding-afri....html Anyone thinking of mounting an effective PR campaign against GM will need to update their arguments.
Is this rational science image for real or is it merely PR for the same ancient agenda to gain money and power by controlling vital resources?
It is perhaps significant to note at this point that the Sarvari Research Trust based in Wales, who successfully developed the Sarpo range of blight resistant potatoes using non-GM methods, recently had their funding cut by the British government.
An important and revealing piece of information in all this that has not been widely circulated in the media up to now is who or what holds the patent on these potatoes? As a new invention the gene sequence will have been patented as Intellectual Property. This enables the patent holder to make a profit on it if it becomes commercially viable.Who Profits?
The patent on the relevant gene, Rp1-vnt1.1 is apparently held by The Sainsbury laboratory in the UK and is being developed as a piece of intellectual property by TSL using its subsidiary, PBL - Plant Bioscience Ltd . PBL was set up by TSL to take on the Intellectual Property and commercialisation aspects of its work. The link to the patent information follows:
Rather than a corporation they are a Charitable Company, part owned and funded by various other foundations and charitable entities. Namely
He is also known as Baron Sainsbury of Turville. According to his entry in Wikipedia he is a very rich and powerful man from a very rich and powerful British family. Sainsbury’s the supermarket was founded by his great grandfather John James Sainsbury. They are well represented on both sides of the house of lords with both labour and conservative peers in the family. Like all good dynasties they’ve been building up the wealth over several generations though they have now spread out from the supermarket business into other areas. As with many families with vast amounts of money they seem to enjoy setting up trusts and foundations with which to pursue their interests. They call this philanthropy (from the Greek words philos – loving and anthropos – humanity or mankind).
David Sainsbury himself was science minister in the Blair govt since 1998 and was member of the cabinet committee with responsibility for national policy on GM crops. He has also been a faithful donor to the labour party over the years having given over Ł11million by 2003, being made a life peer in 1997 and minister for science in 1998.
There were some issues of conflict of interest during his time as minister. To quote directly from Lobbywatch website:
“When he was made Science Minister, Lord Sainsbury resigned as Chairman of the Sainsbury's supermarket chain and put into a blind trust major investments in two plant genetics-related investment companies (Diatech Ltd and Innotech Investments Ltd). Innotech has a substantial stake in a firm called Paradigm Genetics involved in a joint GM-related venture with Monsanto. Between 1996 and 1999 Diatech was granted three patents for GM products that are said to have the potential to make millions of pounds in royalties. “
“Through his Gatsby Charitable Foundation Lord Sainsbury has also put millions into the study of plant genetics. Gatsby gives approximately Ł2 million a year to the Sainsbury Laboratory of the John Innes Centre, which does research into GM crops. Lord Sainsbury helped found the Laboratory in 1987 and his Gatsby Foundation remains its principal source of funding, although it also receives over Ł800,000 a year from the Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council (BBSRC) , for which Sainsbury is responsible in his ministerial role. Its grant has increased several fold during Sainsbury's time as minister.”
“. Professor Steven Rose of the Open University Biology Dept is among those who have commented critically on this emerging corporate science culture, ‘Well I think there is a very real problem from the point of view of university research in the way that private companies have entered the university, both with direct companies in the universities and with contracts to university researchers. So that in fact the whole climate of what might be open and independent scientific research has disappeared, the old idea that universities were a place of independence has gone. Instead of which one's got secrecy, one's got patents, one's got contracts and one's got shareholders.’ “
This information is confirmed and expanded upon in various other places, for example:
Readers will be able to draw their own conclusions from this information and act accordingly. Again, please check, build on and disseminate this information.
Yours for Liberation. Springing up from the ground.