CARD Researcher Studies the Economics of Patents

of 2001 strengthened intellectual property rights for plant research. The Court held that plant seeds and plants themselves, whether traditionally bred or genetically engineered, are patentable under U.S. law. This decision is expected to have important consequences for the U.S. seed industry and for U.S. farmers. GianCarlo Moschini, Pioneer Hi-Bred International Chair in Science and Technology Policy at the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD), analyzes the benefits and costs of patents in two recent papers. Patents do not allow farmers to save seed from harvest, nor can patented varieties be used legally by researchers to develop new crop varieties. While patents generally stimulate innovations that otherwise would not take place, the fact that they grant exclusive rights on exploitation of a new product or process can adversely affect the efficient use of new knowledge after it is generated. To learn more about the economics of patents, see CARD series papers 01-WP 275 and 02-WP 293, available on the Web at www.card.iastate.edu. Contact Moschini, (515) 294-5761, after April 20; or Sandy Clarke, CARD Communications, (515) 294-6257.

(Released April 2002)