- Monsanto did not invent meat.
- Monsanto filed applications for patents on its inventions related to SDA omega-3 soybeans. In the patent applications, Monsanto names the “derived benefits” that could be possible from the invention, including improved animal feed and meat with enhanced levels of omega-3s.
- Derived benefits are commonly cited in patent applications. Some familiar grocery store items are available as a result of similar patents.
- Monsanto does not intend to take ownership of livestock or fish or to sell company-branded milk, meat or eggs enriched with omega-3s to consumers.
Monsanto filed patent applications covering the discovery by employees connected to the SDA-omega-3 soybean product in development. The company recognizes that while many see this as a positive step in finding new ways to get essential nutrients in our diets, it also raises some questions.
Monsanto researchers are developing SDA (stearadonic acid) omega-3 soybeans that result in an improved soybean oil containing enhanced levels of Omega-3s. Working with food companies, Monsanto is looking to incorporate these oils in many foods, including beverages and snack bars.
Researchers discovered there may also be benefits to livestock consuming the omega-3 soybean oil as well. Monsanto employees studied the effect on chickens, pigs, fish and cows (all raised for their meat) consuming SDA omega-3 through their soy meal feed (these animals are regularly fed soy meal/ soy protein today). Early studies show after eating feed with the omega-3 soybean oil, the animals have more omega-3s in their system, improving animal health similarly to humans. And, as a result of increased Omega-3 levels in these animals, the Omega-3s can be passed on to consumers who eat the cow, chicken or pig meat.
Monsanto decided to apply for patents based on this health benefit to protect the researchers’ discovery. If the patent is granted, Monsanto does not intend to get involved in livestock or fish production or sell company-branded milk, meat or eggs enriched with omega-3s directly to consumers.
- Monsanto filed patents on the use of SDA omega-3 soybeans as animal feed for poultry, cows, fish and pork based on results of our scientists’ research.
- The patents state the animal feed could create enhanced levels of omega-3s in the animals and, in turn, the meat sold in grocery stores. This is called a “derived benefit,” and a specific claim for meat with omega-3 benefits is included in the patent applications.
- We made this claim to ensure someone else wouldn’t file a patent claim on the derived benefit resulting from omega-3 animal feed (including Monsanto’s improved soybean). If someone else filed a patent on another step of the process (including the meat itself), it could “block” the use of Monsanto’s SDA omega-3 soybeans from being used in animal feed, simply by virtue of the third party having their end-use application on file. The Monsanto applications serve as official notice of what Monsanto scientists are working on to others in the private and public sectors.
- Disclosure of exactly what Monsanto researchers invented is necessary to protect new technological advances. In the case of the SDA omega-3 soybeans and its use in livestock feed, the patent applications disclosed what was discovered, all the way through to the meat fortified with omega-3s.
- Since the initial patent filings, Monsanto has taken steps to withdraw the specific claims in the patent applications relating to animals and their meat. There hasn’t been any change in the derived benefits we expect from our SDA omega-3 soybeans, but because the earlier application disclosed the animal and meat benefits, no one else can now claim these as their invention. It also makes it clear Monsanto has no plans to take ownership of or sell company-branded omega-3 enriched meat.
- Monsanto is currently looking at ways to accomplish public disclosure of company discoveries without having to file patent applications, so in the future patent applications won’t include these derived benefit types of claims.
The goal in filing these patents was to make sure Monsanto could develop and sell its SDA omega-3 soybean seed. The company and employees also want livestock and food producers to be free to develop products that can make the benefits of this enhanced feed available to both animals and humans.