How Patent Law Relates to Food, Health, and the Fight for a Clean Environment

November 8, 2023 |

Written by Karen Farrell

The intersection of patent law, corporate greed, and our access to natural and organic foods has sparked a contentious debate, underscoring the corrupt dynamics of our current food system. The truth remains: one cannot patent nature. However, the manipulation of living organisms through genetic modification or chemical alterations enables corporations to exploit legal loopholes and assert ownership.

A significant illustration of this conundrum unfolded in 2018 when the renowned pharmaceutical behemoth Bayer acquired Monsanto, a prominent player in the GMO seed and glyphosate production industry. This unexpected maneuver perplexed many, prompting questions about the underlying motives driving this unprecedented union. The marriage between pharmaceutical giants and chemical agriculture, heavily reliant on GMOs and synthetic chemicals, seemed to be a calculated move to amplify profits and consolidate market dominance.

At the time of the acquisition, there was significant consumer pressure mounting against Monsanto. The acquisition of Monsanto presented a unique opportunity for Bayer to rebrand the company and mitigate the mounting public backlash against its practices. Removing the Monsanto name from the public discourse acted as a strategic shield, attenuating the fervor of grassroots movements such as Millions against Monsanto and various initiatives aimed at curtailing GMO proliferation.

In parallel, the rebranding of GMOs as “bioengineered” ingredients subtly obscured the controversial nature of these products, diverting attention from the fundamental issue at hand. The profitability of GMOs hinges on their patentability, fostering a symbiotic relationship between modified crops and the financial interests of the corporate entities holding the patents.

At the end of the day, Tomato’s grown without Roundup is just not as profitable. And those GMO profits are only fueling the industrial pharmaceutical fire. 

Per Reuters, Bayer’s 2023 drug research and development budget for the US was $1 billion dollars. How much of that $1 billion do we think was spent on the use of lavender flowers for anxiety? My guess – zilch. 

The discrepancy between the focus on profitable ventures and the neglect of potentially invaluable natural solutions underscores the urgent need to reassess our priorities and prioritize sustainable, holistic approaches to food and healthcare.