Monsanto's patent on its first generation herbicide resistant Roundup Ready soybean is about to expire!
They had originally planned to force farmers to destroy all their first generation seed as they released their second generation (newly patented) Roundup Ready seed, but backed away from this stance, possibly under pressure from a Justice Department investigation. The original Roundup Ready trait will now be in the public domain and available to farmers and breeders (a very exciting development!).
Patent law and copyrights are critical to facilitate technological and cultural progress but it's a HUGE pet peeve of mine when organizations try to extend their claim beyond what's precedented. (If you're not fired up by this like me, download Free Culture, by Lawrence Lessig).*
At any rate, I'm glad that public opinion and government regulation continue to keep the big seed companies this side of evil.** Now if we could just do the same for the pharmaceutical and entertainment industries we'd be all set...
h/t: U.S. Food Policy
* Companies like Disney flaunt the public domain by continually lobbying congress for absurd extensions on their "ownership" of things like Mickey Mouse
** We'd be even better off (more competition, more disruptive technologies) if we loosened up genetic engineering regulation and let the small guys play