Biotechnology giant Monsanto Corporation announced today that it is seeking a patent on one of its research employee’s children. “If the patent is granted,” said Monsanto attorney Seth “Kendall” Waxman”, “this organism cannot be used for further reproduction without Monsanto permission – usually in return for a royalty fee negotiated with the customer. In fact, we’re currently pursuing a Supreme Court case against a farmer, Vernon Hugh Bowman, who used our patented soybeans to produce his own seed. The patent application for the child is part of our effort to broaden our product range to other organisms.”
“How did the child become a company product?” I asked.
“It was conceived on company time,” said Waxman, “and Monsanto has an agreement with all its employees that anything produced on company time belongs to the company. It’s really quite straightforward. Actually, we discovered that quite a few children are conceived on company time. It happens in the stockroom, while telecommuting and during company travel. What makes Monsanto great is that we turned this activity into a company asset.”
“But you’re saying that the child will not be allowed to reproduce without your permission and for a fee. That sounds oddly like the negotiations that happen on street corners in certain parts of town.”
“Are you calling us pimps? We are businessmen and lawyers. There’s a big difference. We’re simply applying the same standard to soybeans and children. In both cases someone gets screwed, in one case a farmer and in the other a child, but now we call it patent licensing, which makes it all legal and respectable – and very lucrative, by the way. If we can get a patent on all living things, our stock will really take off.”
“How are the parents taking this?”
“They say it’s breaking their heart, but that’s part of the company culture. It’s why we decided to locate in Creve Coeur, Missouri. [Author’s Note: “Creve Coeur” means “Heartbreak” in French.]