"Oh no", said Old Mother Hubbard, "someone's
been eating all our genetic vegetable stock again"
The brain of the Kat's ever-productive friend Professor Paul J. Heald (University of Illinois College of Law; University of Georgia Law School) appears to have gone into overdrive again, with yet another superlative piece of research.  Paul's latest work, which is now available here via SSRN, is "Veggie Tales: Pernicious Myths About Patents, Innovation, and Crop Diversity in the Twentieth Century", a title which reflects some of his earlier research concerns. This 64-page paper, which has been produced together with Susannah Chapman, stems from the Illinois Program in Law and is Behavior and Social Science Paper No. LBSS11-34.

For the record,
"The conventional wisdom, as illustrated for millions of readers in the July 2011 issue of National Geographic, holds that the twentieth century was a disaster for crop diversity. In the popular press, this position is so entrenched that it no longer needs a citation. We conduct a study of all vegetable and apple varieties commercially available in 1903 and compare them with all varieties commercially available in 1981 and 2004 [You have to be a pretty obsessive academic to do this, says Merpel, or someone who has read National Geographic too many in the dentist's waiting room ...]. Along the way, we shatter the conventional wisdom and gut the 1983 study that previous scholars have taken as gospel. We also settle the debate between economists and social scientists [happy is the lawyer who can write words like that!] on the role that patent law might play in destroying or enhancing crop diversity. Both sides appear to be wrong [even happier!]. Our data show that patent law has not reduced crop diversity, nor has it significantly contributed to the introduction of new varieties. The diversity loss thesis espoused by ethnobotanists is wrong and so is the incentive-to-invent story told by patent economists, at least as regards the most common vegetable crops. Finally, we provide the first analysis of innovation in any comprehensive technology market by identifying the source of all products in the market and current commercialization rates for all patented innovations. This paper goes far beyond our prior three related postings of preliminary data".
The IPKat cheers this work to the rafters. Here is something that is based on fact.

Doomsday, National Geographic-style here
Earlier Kat reports on Heald v The Veggie Patent Bashers here and here


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