Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies
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Could open-source GMOs bring down Monsanto at last?

George Dvorsky


July 16, 2013

Frederick Kaufman has penned a provocative article for Slate's Future Tense column in which he makes the case for open-source genetically modified foods. "It will help fight climate change," he says, "and stick one in Monsanto's eye." What's more, it's an approach that still favors scientific advancement.


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Posted by threelaws0_1  on  07/16  at  10:14 PM

Open-source can and may undermine Monsanto’s market. But ca expect long costly legal battles.  To get rid on Monsanto you need to make the needs for herbicides and pesticides obsolete.  Super-weed will created by using open-source GMO also.  the answer is new technology to replace chemicals and chemical resistance crops.

Time for killer robots to save the planet

Posted by rms  on  07/21  at  04:51 AM

The article picks up common misinformation from the software field and
transfers it to the field of food genetics.

The operating system that the article refers to as “Linux” is really
the GNU system, whose development I started in 1984.  See

GNU is an activity of the free software movement—free as in
freedom.  We developed GNU so users could have control of their own
computing.  We reject nonfree or “proprietary” software as an
injustice because it gives the developer power over the users.

Developers often employ this power to impose spy features (see or worse

The term “open source” was coined in 1998 to co-opt our work and bury
our ethical values.  Evgeny Morozov explains what happened, in

“Open source” is typically associated with a naive technical optimism,
“Let people improve the program and they will make work well”, which
substitutes for the free software movement’s political concern: “Your
computing should be under your control, not others’ control.”

These same philosophical issues and disagreements transfer to
biotechnology.  If we encourage farmer to do genetic engineering, will
that produce great crops?  Maybe, but we can’t count on that.
However, there is no doubt that it will restore to them the freedom
that Monsanto and such currently deny them.

I wrote about these freedom issues in regard to genetic engineering in
1997 in an article, Biopiracy or Bioprivateering.  See

Another confusion is in the use of the term “intellectual property”
which leads people to suppose that copyright law and patent law are
similar.  In practice, they are totally different.  If you think of
them as “two kinds of intellectual property”, that will lead you to
misunderstand both of them.  The first step in thinking clearly about
either of these laws is to discourage anyone from trying to generalize
about the two.

Since recognizing this, in 2004, I have shunned the term “intellectual
property”.  See

Posted by Megmelodia  on  07/22  at  01:42 PM

Unfortunately waiting for open source GMO’s to become established in order to overcome Monsanto is too little too late. In a recent interveiw with physicist and activist, Vandana Shiva, stated that over 270,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide. With the cost of cotton seed having risen 8,000 percent and Monsanto owning 95 percent of the seed stock in India, there is no future for many farmers. Although science is now able to unlock the genome, it should not claim ownership over a plant that humans have selectively bred and “engineered” over millennia.

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