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Sent: 24 November 2003 10:32
Subject: 30: Re: Use of licensed genomic technology
In response to Pablo Corva (Message 29, November 21):
Also I am not a lawyer, I do know a little bit about patents, and there are several misconceptions in your note.
- First, patents only apply to the country in which they were granted. That is unless a patent was granted in your country (Argentina) you can do whatever you want within your country with a gene that was patented in the US.
- Second, a patent is a "negative" right, and only refers to profit from the patent. As long as you are only doing research, and not making money from the patent you are OK, even if there is a patent in your country.
- Third, in most cases with respect to genes, the patent has been filed, but has not been granted yet. It takes at least several years for the patent to be granted, and this procedure is far from automatic. However, if the patent is granted, then it becomes effective retroactively.
Again, I am not a lawyer, and I would appreciate it if someone who knows more about this topic would also respond.
Joel Ira Weller
Institute of Animal Sciences
A. R. O., The Volcani Center
P. O. Box 6
Bet Dagan 50250
E-mail: weller (at) agri.huji.ac.il
Phone : 972-8-9484430
Fax : 972-8-9470587
[This message and the next two (nrs. 31 and 32) follow up on the theme of patenting and intellectual property rights in the context of marker assisted selction in developing countries, raised by Pablo Corva in message 29. We would also appreciate some viewpoints/experiences from conference subscribers working in the private sector, including multinational companies, on this issue, as the private sector is obviously a key player here...Moderator].
Sent: 24 November 2003 10:32
Subject: 31: Re: Use of licensed genomic technology
I am S. Saravanan working towards the doctoral degree in plant breeding and genetics at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, India.
With regard to message 29 (November 21) of Pablo Corva, I submit to state that any of the technological inventions that are directly and indirectly effecting mankind welfare projects should be very well allowed to be utilized freely. Anyhow, any biotechnological tool should have been patented for security point of view. I suggest that the patent laws should impose a restriction to patented material only at the market level and not at the research level. Research is a continuous and cyclic process, any new finding will form a base towards the next finding. Hence, patenting of biotechnological tools should stand only at the marketing level and not the research level. Any biotechnology tools should be allowed to be used freely by researchers for their new findings so that it will pay the way for further developments in the society.
Centre for Plant Breeding and Genetics
Tamil Nadu Agricultural University
sarapbg2002 (at) yahoo.co.in
Sent: 24 November 2003 10:32
Subject: 32: Corporate patents on particular genes
I'm Eric Storlie from the University of Southern Queensland, Australia, where I'm working as a project officer for a collaborative wheat breeding project with Chinese scientists.
After reading a few of the messages posted so far, I feel scientists in developing countries are worried about lagging behind a blossoming technology. The farmers, especially, of these countries probably have something to worry about. I don't think they need to worry about missing out on miraculous offerings of the technology, but conversely, they may become constrained by corporate patents on particular genes, which may require a company's authorization for possession and use.
Growing food is basic to the livelihoods of humans; if we have plants, animals, soil, water and air, people all over the world can take care of themselves. We will have trouble improving on the agricultural accomplishments of the past. I think we easily forget that the germplasm we cherish was developed long before the development of modern technologies and methodologies, and the people who have most recently inherited these landraces etc... have not insisted on patent rights to their heritage.
I don't think we should justify biotechnology on a desire to "help" other people or countries, nor should it be advocated as a panacea, because I don't think this is true. It is simply a tool that may expedite an existing potential. I think we overlook the possibility that we may make things worse.
Faculty of Science
University of Southern Qld
Toowoomba, Qld 4350
storlie (at) usq.edu.au
Sent: 24 November 2003 10:44
Subject: 33: MAS and animal breeding
I am Juan F. Chavez from Peru. I work with animal genetic resources in my country, specially the native ones.
I would like to place the following question: Have the studies realized until now, about the economical advantages of MAS compared to conventional artificial selection, taken into account the magnitude of their effects on reduction of reproductive performance due to variability shortage of the gene pools? I think one not-addressed advantage of MAS could be, besides more rapid responses to selection, its less harmful effect on reproductive traits because of more precise targetting to the desirable alleles we are looking for.
Related to the use or not of MAS for improving our livestock, I think it all depends on the goals we want to achieve. Within our "Criollo" cattle there are some valuable genes related to traits that could be in demand from countries with well developed livestock industries (i.e. dairy cattle). These genes could be identified and concentrated by MAS into a breed developed from Criollo cattle and become a "live library" of desirable genes that could be offered to anyone interested in "reshaping" the make-up of their cattle overseas.
Now we have other priorities related to animal breeding. More than 80% of our livestock is owned by small farmers, who have very low levels of education; they raise their animals on natural pastures which have low nutritional value. They are poor and besides their own traditional selection systems, there is no possibility for them to pay for MAS. Under these circumstances, more rapid responses to genetic improvement (genotype) could be reached by selecting and interchanging males among small farmers flocks, within and among communities. Also we need to help them to educate, organize and integrate with the industry and commerce as part of Chains of Value.
Juan F. Chavez
Calle Las Copaibas 145. Urb. Remanso II
La Molina. Lima,
chavram (at) terra.com.pe
[Regarding the first paragraph, to my knowledge there is no evidence that MAS, per se, will have a less (or more) harmful effect on reproductive traits and reproductive performance then conventional selection. Also, whether selection (be it MAS or conventional) might reduce reproductive performance depends on the selection programme, the traits selected etc. etc. (e.g. if the trait selected for is increased fertility, neither MAS nor conventional selection are likely to result in reduced reproductive performance...Moderator].
Sent: 24 November 2003 10:49
Subject: 34: cost effectiveness of MAS
This is from P.M. Priyadarshan again. I am a plant breeder by profession, with 20 years of experience on spices and rubber. Actively involved in breeding rubber for non-traditional areas especially with stresses like low temperature, wind and diseases. Currently working at the Regional Research Station, Rubber Research Institute of India, Agartala, India.
I must fully agree with the opinions of Ashok Seth (Message 26, November 21) on the cost effectiveness of MAS. Developing countries, in many cases, cannot afford to keep apart their financial resources for MAS, since the money spent so far for related studies, I am doubtful whether it has yielded appreciable results.
Rubber Research Institute of India,
Regional Station, AGARTALA - 799 006,
Tel: Off : 91-381-2355287/2355143 - Extn:205
Tel: Resi : 91-381-2354325
pmpriyadarshan (at) hotmail.com
alternate e-mails: pmpriyadarshan (at) rediffmail.com pmpriyadarshan (at) yahoo.co.in
personal web page: www.freewebs.com/pmpriyadarshan/
Sent: 24 November 2003 10:58
Subject: 35: MAS approach yields disease resistant rice lines
This message is from Dr. R. Sridhar former Principal Scientist, Central Rice Research Institute, Cuttack, 753006, India. I have retired from the services and continue as an independent researcher to keep my association with science.
During the past decade, I was leading a project aimed at developing disease resistant rice lines at the Central Rice Research Institute (CRRI). The following message describes a success story of MAS which touches some of the points raised by participants of this conference. (The results are yet to be published in journals).
In the absence of any chemicals effective against bacterial leaf blight of rice, the only way to minimize the losses caused by this disease is the use of resistant varieties. At the Central Rice Research Institute in Cuttack, attempts were made in a collaborative venture with the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines (a programme under the Asian Rice Biotechnology Network supported by the Asian Development Bank, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research) to understand the population structure of the bacterial leaf blight pathogen occurring in eastern India using molecular tools for fingerprinting them combined with the conventional technique for analysing the virulence patterns of the pathogen strains and evaluation of the resistance genes in disease trap nursery. This led to the assessment of the usefulness of the bacterial blight resistance genes singly and in different combinations. This is primarily essential for meaningful deployment of the resistance genes.
The next step was to move the genes of interest (xa5, xa13 and Xa21 conferring resistance to bacterial leaf blight) to two popular commercial rice varieties, IR 64 and Swarna, which are susceptible to the disease. This was achieved employing MAS in conjunction with the conventional back cross breeding strategy. Assessing resistance of plants by artificially inoculating with the pathogen is particularly complicated when more than one resistance gene is transferred together, as it is not possible to inoculate the same plant with two different strains of the pathogen. This approach finally resulted in the development of 50 lines in the background of IR 64 and 95 lines in the background of Swarna carrying three bacterial blight resistance genes singly and in different combinations to the above rice varieties. Although lines with single genes are resistant to specific strains of the pathogen, lines carrying two genes in different combinations and three genes are resistant to a wide spectrum of the pathogen strains, thus enhancing the durability of resistance to the disease. These lines have been evaluated for disease resistance and yield in on-station trials and a select set of them are in on-farm trials in farmers' fields. These have a high potential for replacing the bacterial leaf blight susceptible IR 64 and Swarna being grown by the farmers, without having much difficulty of their acceptance as the grain qualities and yield potential of these lines are quite similar to the original varieties.
The CRRI's approach of improving the existing varieties for their resistance to bacterial leaf blight offers promise for transferring other desired traits to popular varieties which otherwise lack them resulting in decreased yield. This also points out the need for sustained involvement of a team of researchers with expertise in conventional and molecular biology as it blends both these approaches for realizing the ultimate goal of crop improvement.
Dr. R. Sridhar
Flat 5, Rajparis Kings Castle
(Old No. 19), New No. 11, First Main Road
I-Block, Anna Nagar East, Chennai 600 102
rangsridhar (at) yahoo.com
Sent: 24 November 2003 11:30
Subject: 36: When the marker is the gene
From Adilson Mota, Brazil.
I see now that we have participants from many countries and different backgrounds (I would suggest the moderator informs us how many participants are attending the conference). Many ones work on livestock, express their opinions from developing countries, and may (as well as I am) be concerned about advantages and pitfalls of MAS, specifically for developing countries. [Over 600 people have registered for the conference so far, coming from a wide range of countries and work situations. We encourage you all to participate actively...Moderator].
I must repeat from the introduction of the background document to the conference when it stated: "despite the considerable resources that have been invested in this field and despite the enormous potential it still represents, MAS, with few exceptions, has not yet delivered its expected benefits in commercial breeding programmes for crops, animals, forest trees or farmed fish in the developed world".
In my previous message (Message 14, November 19), I attempted to raise questions that a funding agency from a developing country might ask in case a proposal containing MAS is submitted. I am absolutely in favour of MAS research and technology, in the whole sense. But I am not convinced about using DNA "markers" in marker assisted selection (MAS) for genetic improvement of animals within breeding programs in developing countries. Unless the marker is the gene !
I will try to explain this important distinction. Let us keep up with the background document, where it mentions the reference of Dekker (2003) (Section 2.2 - From markers to MAS). If the situation is the first kind of relationship therein described between the marker and the gene of interest (i.e. "complete linkage"), then selection of an animal with the favorable alleles of the marker will represent selection of the favorable alleles of the gene. In the other situation, there is "linkage disequilibrium" between marker and gene, and selection of favorable genotypes of the marker does NOT always represent selection of superior animals. The rate of success depends on the distance and phase between marker and gene.
I also underline Joel Weller's words (Message 15, November 19) that properly stated: "Genotyping additional markers in the region of interest doesn't help much. Once you are down to a marker spacing of 10 cM, additional markers will not reduce the confidence interval."
In conclusion, developing countries may consider MAS in their breeding programs, BUT solely in the case of absolute agreement between the marker and the gene. Otherwise, developing countries will be asked to adopt technology that will bring up costs (a major concern), as they will have to buy genotyping equipment, reagents, and technology to achieve information that is not absolute guarantee of selecting superior animals. And additional markers and genotyping may not represent significant progress.
This situation is opposed to straight selection of superior animals when there is "complete linkage". In this case, it is even possible to identify heterozygotes carrying unfavorable alleles (i.e., for health traits). Estimates are also available for production levels, depending on the genotypes, and can be used by the developing country to evaluate costs vs. benefits of genotyping. This way, scarce resources (financial and human) from developing countries are allocated to issues that will certainly represent development in the context of its national agricultural economy.
Besides breeding programs, MAS can be recommended for developing countries, regardless of evaluating "linkage" situation between gene and marker, in research activities. This may be carried out by international collaborative networks proposed to accelerate discovery (towards the "complete linkage" situations), depending on the interest of not being left behind with respect to strategic discoveries and/or technologies. Collaborative projects may also consider investments in studies with candidate genes in the putative chromosome region(s) presenting significant marker association.
I used here an example with livestock, because of its economical importance for Brazil, but it may very well represent other agricultural sectors.
Adilson Mota, PhD
Embrapa Gado de Leite - Dairy Cattle Research Center
R. Eugenio do Nascimento, 610
Dom Bosco - Juiz de Fora - MG
36038-330 - BRAZIL
Phone (+55) (32) 3249-4825
Fax (+55) (32) 3249-4701
E.mail amota (at) cnpgl.embrapa.br