November 15, 2011 by Elias Lyberogiannis
Elias Lyberogiannis is a JD candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School and is enrolled in Professor Ikechi Mgbeoji’s Patents class in Fall 2011. As part of the course requirements, students are asked to write a blog on a topic of their choice.
I recently came across the research paper by Paul J. Heald and Susannah Chapman entitled Veggie Tales: Pernicious Myths About Patents, Innovation, and Crop Diversity in the Twentieth Century.1 The article is yet another attempt to analyze whether the patent system is beneficial or detrimental to a particular field. The particular field in this case is vegetable crops and the authors try to settle a debate between (1) economists on one side who “assume that patent law stimulates innovation, [and] result[s] in increased diversity of goods”, and (2) ethnobotanists on the other who “have long argued that patent law leads to monoculture, genetic erosion, and diminished crop diversity”.2 After conducting their research, the authors conclude that, “[b]oth sides appear to be wrong…patent law has not reduced crop diversity, nor has it significantly contributed to the introduction of new varieties”.3