Technology, Patents, and Plants: Are the Next Generation of GMOs Patentable?

27 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2018 Last revised: 28 Feb 2019

Date Written: October 14, 2018


Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats or (CRISPR) for short is touted as a revolutionary technology that can alter the way scientists modify DNA. CRISPR is essentially a laboratory tool that allows scientists to cut and edit strands of DNA at the molecular level. Scientists benefit from this technology because they no longer introduce foreign strands of DNA into genetic materials. This results in a cheaper, quicker, and more efficient process to alter the genes within plants. With promises of altering plants to increases nutrition, hardiness, and production to feed an ever-growing world the agricultural industry flaunts patents and biotechnology. However, the upsides come at a cost because of the patent process in the United States. Plant patents promote all the wrong incentives in agriculture which will inevitably stifle innovation, food security, and monopolize the food supply. The Supreme Court in Diamond v. Chakrabarty held that bacteria used to create living organisms can be patentable. However, recent decisions by the Court limit the scope of patents involving DNA. This paper will attempt to apply the narrowed scope in the field of genetics to plants and the Patent Act. The recent decisions by the Court should restrict the patentability of CRISPR technology and the plant varieties created.

Suggested Citation

Steinbach, Alexander, Technology, Patents, and Plants: Are the Next Generation of GMOs Patentable? (October 14, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Alexander Steinbach (Contact Author)

Independent ( email )

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