Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Haley Reading Group: “Linux for Lettuce”

[The Best American Science and Nature Writing (2015)]

Lisa M. Hamilton follows the story of Jim Meyers, a broccoli plant breeder and college professor, as he struggles to fight off patents for plant breeding. Hamilton states that although plant breeding was regarded as a collaborative effort, the increase in patents “discourage sharing” and are stifling (74).

Hamilton exposes the impact patents will have on plant breeders and farmers. This article focuses on the collaborative effort of farmers to discourage all patents and maintain group-sharing practices.

What did you find most useful about the article, and why?

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

The most useful thing about this article was the reminder to think outside of the box and never give up. Tom Michaels saw his son working on Linux software and used that information to think about ways it could relate to his problem with agricultural patents. He realized that he could attach a license to germplasm's that would keep it in the public domain and no one could patent it or restrict its offspring (80).

Marina T.

Linda H. said...

What I found most useful about this article was Myers' account of what breeders go through when dealing with unfair patents. On page 75 he says "If they get the patent, they really hold all the cards. Then it comes down to at some point deciding whether to continue my program or to hang it up." It seems unfair to me that people can spend years trying to breed plants to produce in a more efficient way, and then a big company can claim all rights to your plants. This selfishness leads to breeders having to keep their work to themselves instead of working with others for fear of being taken advantage of. The author's use of sympathy in this way was useful in getting the reader to understand the situation.

Caleb Abernathy said...

The most important/useful aspect that I got from the article was to see things from multiple perspectives. Some individuals believed that placing a patent on a plant breeding would have been a good thing, because then it leads to ingenuity and new discoveries. On the other hand, some individuals thought that placing a patent on plant breeding "discourage sharing" and is rather stifling (74).

In order to completely analyze the situation one must look at the circumstance from multiple perspectives. On one hand as Meyers said, "If they get the patent, they really hold all the cards." While at the same time, some might think of anything agricultural related as a business, and in a business environment you always have to make the decision of competition over community.

The important thing is that each person who analyzes the situations sees it from a plethora of perspectives to ensure that they are making what they think is the best decision.

Alexis S. said...

I found the article to be very useful on how to work together to come up with an idea that will be beneficial to everyone. Learning to work together with others is an important skill. Hamilton descriptively explained how farmers, scientist, and educators all came together to eventually create a program that allows plant breeders and farmers to use any seed that they want without being penalized. Overall this short story shows how beneficial it can be to work together in a proper and thought-provoking way in order to come up with a beneficial solution.

- Alexis S.

Anonymous said...

The most important aspect I took from this article was to persevere through hardships as the OSSI members did. The OSSI members had to think outside the box to try to "outsmart the intellectual-property system" to fight off patents (85). Although Goldman did not want to hire lawyers, he persevered though in order to "free the seed"(85).

Samantha A.

LaTrina Brown said...

The most useful part of the article was how they came up with ways to work around their troubles with patents. With a team effort and ambition, everything worked well in favor of the plant breeders. This proves and shows that anything is possible, especially if there are many bricks in the road along a particular journey.

Anonymous said...

I think the most useful thing about this article is the lesson it teaches you to persevere even when it gets difficult. The plant farmers work so hard to find solutions that would benefit the majority of people and it could get ripped away from them so easy when a bigger company comes into play. They had to find solutions to get around the big box companies and for that they would have had to work together.

Alexis Richardson

Anonymous said...

The most useful thing in the article is the idea that people should look at things from different perspectives. I think that it makes sense for breeders would want to protect their inventions, but it also hurts everyone else. The article says that patents "discourage sharing, and sharing is the foundation of successful breeding" (74). I think that there should be some type of way where they can meet in the middle, so everyone can benefit and get what they want in the end.
-Alyria B.

Rachael Gray said...

I had no idea how competitive this industry was. I thought that there weren’t very many farmers anymore, so I never imagines this as a problem. On one hand it is good to value the group as a whole, and consider that many developers are needed to improve a plant. However, I can also understand why some people made patents on their plants. They are just desperate to keep their business, which is understandable. That will destroy other people’s businesses though. I can’t believe the seed business is worth $52 billion. That is amazing. I’m glad that most vegetables are still safe from the patents and technology. All of the things with the patents and technology makes me wonder if they are safe to eat. I feel like it’s kind of extra to have a whole hotline to snitch on someone for using the wrong seeds. Why wouldn’t they just call the police? They don’t have to make a whole hotline. Myers’ solution is really impressive and it gained a lot of popularity, but I still hope they can find a way to overturn the patent thing.
-Rachael Gray

Caulder Brantley said...

Caulder B.
The thing I found most useful/important in this article was all the people involved in the campaign to make seeds become open source again. I thought it was inspiring how all these people from different parts came together to try and solve this issue. Another thing I found useful/important was how in depth the article was about what and how patents are placed on seeds,and how that hinders other plant breeders from making discovers of their own.

Unknown said...

What I found interesting about the article, Linux for Lettuce was how competitive plant breeders are.Usually when doing research, people want to share their results to contribute to their field, but that isn't the case in Linux for Lettuce. I thought plant breeders would want to share their breeding techniques with others so everyone can have access to information about how to grow a plant that was improved in some way, whether that be a plant of a different color, one that was easier to harvest, or a method that would yield more crops.

Madalynn M.

Unknown said...

Alexis H.

I knew of patents, but did not think they extended to food which is interesting. It makes since that they are, though, seeing that we have GMO’s and other genetically modified foods. The breeders are all right, if we lived in a community of sharing there would be more than just the few experiments we have found.

What was the most interesting to me are the laws that were created based on the patents. Page 78 explains the difference between asexually reproduced and sexually reproduced plants. It’s goes further and explains why patents can’t be placed of sexually produced plants. This was interesting because if two people just so happens to discover the same thing at the same time the one who gets the patent FIRST is the owner.

Gabrielle H. said...

The thing I found the most interesting about the article Linux for Lettuce was the OSSI and the "free the seed" movement. I learned how difficult it's becoming for farmers to compete with pantenting and restrictive contracts who enhance the produce for better flavor and more sales. It was empowering to see OSSI's movement to make seeds available to everyone. Separating farmers and a community from access of growing new produce polarizes the industry when we need them to come together in order to make the seed better.

Dasmin W. said...

What I found most interesting about this article was how competitive the life of farming still is. I had no idea people still farmed and I didn't even know what plant breeders were. This article open my eyes into this world and enlighten me on how strong people as a group have to be to survive in this industry.

Anonymous said...

I knew people were still farming but had no idea how competitive farmers were. You would think in the fact that we need food to survive there would not be as competitive. But the fact that there are patents on seeds is ridiculous thankfully it is not on the ones that sexually reproduced plants. While I respect that breeders want to protect their profit but I also want everyone to have access to improved seeds so everyone benefits.
- Breann Walton

Sable M. said...

The most important/useful aspect that I found it very useful that he said we should persevere through the trials and hardships and that coming up with new and innovative ways of doing things doesn't always work out such as the patenting because it excluded others. The article allowed the reader multiple interpretations of the effect of patenting while still showing how it can be bad, but also allowing room for a solution that works for everyone to be found

Anonymous said...

What I found useful was Myers' determination to achieve his goal. This short article shows how much with a little effort, and a teamwork, each and every individual can bring his knowledge to build a better society. This article also shows how much the world works managing a very competitive system. Living in a captitalist society also means being competitive in pretty much every area. without it, many businesses would not be as fruitful as they are.

-Geonel M.

Anonymous said...

I think the most important thing in this article was that it is important to view things from other perspectives. It is important to remember how your actions affect others which is talked about with the breeders wanting to protect their inventions but then they end up hurting others in the process. It states that "sharing is the foundation for successful breeding"(74). This can be looked at not only in this aspect about breeders but also we need to remember that wanting to be better not only for ourselves but as the world as an entirety benefits not only ourselves but everyone else as well.

-Jasmine D.

Anonymous said...

What I found most useful about, "Linnux for Lettuce," is how it sort of teaches the lesson of there is a greater good. In the article, patents were being taken out that hindered the advancement of plant breeding for one's own selfish gain, yet people like Meyers stepped up to form an organization of farmers to discourage patents and maintain group-sharing practices. They did this not for the money or recognition, but for the advancement of plant breeding which helps others in a lot of other ways. I think that's a great, useful thing for everyone to know. Like don't always concentrate on you or your involvement in plant breeding, in this case, but on the big idea. ~ Lillien W.

Anonymous said...

The most useful tip to me in this short story was to learn the importance of working together. Working together has so many benefits, however, i think people often turn away from it because they want to be more independent. While independence is a very important characteristic for one to have, the ability for one to be able to work in a group setting is very important as well. By working together to complete something you are introduced to so many other perspectives, ideas, and interpretations of one topic.

Cecelia S.

Anonymous said...

Kami Douglas
Overall, "Linnux for Lettuce" was an interesting read. I felt that the short story taught many important life lessons. The one that I found most important was the lesson that perspectives towards different things are different between different individuals depending upon circumstances.
Given this, you should embrace or at least acknowledge the different perspectives rather than just assuming that your perspective is justified. For instance, while the breeders were doing things to advance themselves, they were getting in the way of others advancing. I feel like the text taught the lesson that you should acknowledge the fact that their may be different perspectives and beliefs towards something and work to a compromise if possible, to benefit all .

Anonymous said...

There were many important things to take away from this article, but the most useful thing had to be the importance of working together. Although farmers wanted patents to protect their seeds, it’s important to work with other farmers so that they can be successful too, and the patents can restrict farmers from being able to use the seeds to grow crops.
-Gianna T.

Jovahna Williams said...

The most useful thing to take away from this article was to be able to work hard and be smart about the solutions to your problems. The patents are so hard to deal with and work around and can ruin years of someone's hard work. However, teaming up with other people who go through the same struggles can immensely strengthen your cause and force of hard work and therefore you will be more likely to succeed just by teaming up and helping others.

Jovahna W.

Anonymous said...

In this passage I took away a couple of pretty good lessons. For starters, I found it interesting that the author emphasized how as people we should always try and consider other people's opinions/views on things because it helps make us into better people. Also when we listen to other people's opinions we can find better solutions to our problems that we are faced with. This also plays a role into another lesson I found interesting and very important, was that its important to work together with people. You can accomplish so much more that way and have a better turn out than if you did things on your own.
Jasmine S.

Anonymous said...

This passage opened my eyes to a world of farming I never knew existed. I wasn't aware that there are so many farmers still. Also, it opened my eyes to how far team work and determination can get you. Farmers joined ranks and worked toward similar end goals, and it benefited all of them.
Fatima B.

Whitney Kriener said...

The most useful thing that I picked up from this article has to be how much of farming that I didn't know about. I didn't realize that people were able to get patents for seeds or new crops. So many people have stuff to say and they do not have the words or the means to get their opinion across, people need to work together because there are so many of us out there who have the same ideas and we are alone to share our words.

Amira Fane said...

What I found most interesting about the article was that these farmers spent lifetimes working on how to breed these plants and that a big company could just come and basically take all of their hard work. Another thing that I thought was important was how the farmers came together to work together. This is very important. By doing so they could win their copyright back. -Amira Fane

Anonymous said...

I think the most useful aspects of this article were the ideas of preserving and pushing through and not being objective to collaborative work. This article shed light on how they could work together to come to a beneficial solution for all parties involved. Through working together, scientists, farmers, and others were able to come to a sensus and create a program that allowed for plant breeders to use any seed that they want. They had to all come together to work around the big companies.


Nadira E.

Unknown said...

The fact that things in this nature are patent is what I actually found most interesting about this article. I've always thought farmers use the same methods but this article shows the difference between farmers and company production. Personally I feel like the farmers that patent their work is important so they are recognized for any contribution they may have in new developments.
-Khalia Kuntu

Deja Thornton said...

what I found most useful in this article was how much work went into breeding the plants. it was very informational and showed how much work the farmers put into the plants. I also found interesting that the aortic;e brought up the importance of putting our ideas together for the better.