Soy Seeds as Technology?

.: Corvallis Gazette-Times :. News

Perhaps it is time for me to return to my roots. I have spent many an hour reminiscing about my days in what was then known as “The Future Farmers of America” (now, officially known only as “The FFA”). At the time, I remember being proud to be part of a family-centric tradition. Family farmers, passing down land, and practices, from generation to generation, and instilling in each generation a love for the land and for what it can produce.

Of course, I also remember the discussions about how “corporate farming” was taking over, and driving the family farmer to extinction. If left to their own devices, the agri-business folks would control the world. I, of course, scoffed.

My how times have changed. We still have family farmers, and agribusiness has contributed greatly to their success, and their ability to produce significantly more than ever before–feeding hundreds of people per farmer, where before the average farmer would feed 25, to 75, people.

But now we face a new challenge–seed as technology.

Monsanto’s claim that saving some seed, and replanting it, is the moral equivalent of bootleg copying music, would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious. Let me explain.

Stealing software, music, or movies generally requires one person making a copy, and then giving or selling it to another. Generally speaking, we have allowed (through the courts) for people to make copies for their own enjoyment and use. It’s why we have MP3 players in the first place, and why Apple is able to sell music through iTunes. People want to be able to listen to their music. But also, we understand that these items are truly technology. They are collections of machinery combined to provide a capability that didn’t exist before. essentially they are “things” that did not exist.

It seems to me that this is somehow fundamentally different. Soy Beans have always existed. Scientists have adjusted the DNA perhaps, and somehow twisted it to kep it from responding to “round up” herbicide, but it’s still “Soy beans.” Soy beans are natural, but somehow if you start with something natural, and you perform experiments on it, you gain “rights” to it that weren’t there before.

Perhaps God should consider suing Mansanto. After all–he owns the original rights, don’t you think?