OSA’s Kiki Hubbard testified at the USDA’s hearing on seed competition and intellectual property rights (IPR) on August 24, 2022. The public listening session is part of the department’s ongoing inquiry into competition concerns in the seed trade and the role that IPR plays. As OSA shared at the event:
We know that seed is unique from other agricultural input markets. As a living, natural resource seed represents generations of natural evolution both alongside and in absence of human intervention. I want to inject a missing point from what I’ve heard today which is that grower decisions pertaining to seed are not only economical – at times these decisions are also ethical and cultural. And it’s the cultural heritage of our seed supply that makes ownership claims that much more fraught when considering our nation’s history of appropriation, not to mention the original intent of IP laws, which was to foster innovation, not to monopolize entire markets.
Of all the IP tools associated with seed, we are most concerned about the immediate and long-term impacts of utility patents on plant varieties and genetic traits. These patents have disrupted the balance of power in agriculture by effectively tipping that power toward IP owner rights and away from the public interest.
Click on the image below to watch Kiki’s testimony and to hear our ideas for actionable solutions (her testimony begins at minute mark 48:25). And be sure to read our more detailed written policy comments.