What Does The Supreme Court Have To Say About GMOs?
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Politics and Activism

What Does The Supreme Court Have To Say About GMOs?

The Supreme Court examines challenges behind the new technology of genetically modified organisms.

What Does The Supreme Court Have To Say About GMOs?

Genetically modified organisms have been part of several Supreme Court cases regarding patent law. A genetically modified organism (GMO) is a type of organism where part of its DNA was modified through methods such as splicing, transgenic technology, etc.

The earliest question to come before the Supreme Court regarding GMOs was in 1980, regarding whether the organisms could garner a patent.An engineer for General Electric developed a GMO that can be used for cleaning up oil spills. The United States rejected General Electric's patent request, because living things were not able to have patent eligibility. General Electric appealed to the Supreme Court to decide on significant issue on a new technology. The Court sided with General Electric by ruling a GMO as patentable. The justification is that GMOs could be viewed as a "manufacture" rather than a living creature that already exists in nature.

A major recent decision regarding GMOs was reached in 2013 with Bowman v. Monsanto Co.Vernon Bowman was a farmer who bought seeds that were patented by Monsanto Co. One of the conditions behind the patent was that the seeds couldn't be planted for more than one season. Bowman ignored the requirements and instead planted the seeds multiple seasons. The Court ruled in favor of Monsanto Co. by stating that Bowman should have requested the company's permission to replant the seeds for another season in accordance with the patent rules. The Court wasn't directly clear if the decision applied to self-replicating technologies that will become more prevalent over time.

The case Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc. didn't deal with GMOs but could implicate future cases regarding the certain type of organisms. The Court ruled in the case that naturally occurring DNA sequences could not be eligible for a patent. However, the Court would allow for artificial DNA sequences to be eligible for a patent. Critics have argued that the decision may be applied to GMOs in the future, but it has still yet to be determined.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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