Owning Omega-3: Monsanto and the Invention of Meat

Farm Policy Journal, Vol. 8, No. 1, pp. 11-21, 2011

11 Pages Posted: 21 Mar 2011 Last revised: 3 Jan 2015

See all articles by Matthew Rimmer

Matthew Rimmer

Queensland University of Technology (QUT)

Date Written: March 15, 2011


In August of 2010, Anna Salleh of the Science Unit of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation broke a story about Monsanto seeking to patent the enhancement of meat, including omega-3 fatty acids:

‘Enhanced port is sparking debate over the ethics of placing patents on food. Patent applications covering the enhancement of meat, including pork with omega-3 fatty acids, are stimulating debate over the ethics and legalities of claiming intellectual property over food. Monsanto has filed patents that cover the feeding of animals soybeans, which have been genetically modified by the company to contain stearidonic acid (SDA), a plant-derived omega-3 fatty acid... Omega-3s have been linked to improved cardiovascular health and there are many companies engineering them into foodstuffs. But the new patent applications have touched a raw nerve among those who see them as an attempt by the company to exert control over the food chain.’

This article providers a critical evaluation of the controversy of Monsanto’s patent applications, and the larger issues over patenting food. It first considers the patent portfolio of Monsanto; the nature of the patent claims; and the examination of the claims by patent examiners. Second, it examines the withdrawal and revision of the patent claims by Monsanto in the wake of criticism by patent authorities and the public disquiet over the controversial application. Third, this article considers the larger policy issues raised by Monsanto’s patent applications – including the patenting of plants, animals, and foodstuffs. There is also a consideration of the impact of patents upon the administration of health-care, competition, and research.

Keywords: Patent Law, Plants, Animals, Health, Research, Competition

Suggested Citation

Rimmer, Matthew, Owning Omega-3: Monsanto and the Invention of Meat (March 15, 2011). Farm Policy Journal, Vol. 8, No. 1, pp. 11-21, 2011, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1787702

Matthew Rimmer (Contact Author)

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) ( email )

Level 4, C Block Gardens Point
2 George St
Brisbane, Queensland QLD 4000

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