Ethical Dilemma: Newsham Choice Genetics

Patenting a new invention - The Pig

Term Paper, 2009

9 Pages, Grade: 1,7


Table of Content


1. Newsham Choice Genetics and the ethical dilemma
1.1. Company overview
1.2. The Swine Patent and its critique

2. Evaluation of the dilemma by applying ethical theories
2.1. Ethical egoism
2.2. Utilitarianism

3. Suggestions on how to manage the dilemma Conclusion References


The application of technology in agriculture has given groundwork for many emotional debates among the public sector, businesses and individuals in recent years. Measuring its utility for society is a difficult task, as it involves finding solutions to complex questions of ethics and values. One particular case relates to a patent, held by Newsham Choice Genetics, on a genetic technique used to breed meatier pigs. The filing of the patent by the European Patent Office (EPO) has been subject to immense criticism raised by farmers, green campaigners and politicians.

The aim of this paper is to present this ethical dilemma, analyse it by applying theories and to evaluate possible solutions to it.

1. Newsham Choice Genetics and the ethical dilemma

1.1. Company overview

Newsham Choice Genetics is a US biotech firm that specialises on research and development of swine genetic solutions. Their strategy is to deliver value for customers through high healthy, cost efficient genetic solutions, as expressed in their mission statement:

“Better, faster, stronger. Always.”

− Serve customer better
− Advance genetic progress further and faster
− To provide an even stronger bottom-line for producers
− Integral, always, to the Newsham name is the implementation of health and biosecurity processes that reduce risk

[Newsham Choice Genetics, 2009]

Newsham Choice Genetics claims that their research matters to producers, as the provided solutions enable improved feed efficiency, reproductive performance and growth and hence, overall low cost production and high value output.

[Newsham Choice Genetics, 2009]

In 2007, the former Newsham Genetics acquired Monsanto Choice Genetics to become

Newsham Choice Genetics. By merging the third largest swine genetics supplier in the United States (Newsham Genetics), with the second largest swine genetics supplier (Monsanto) in North America a very strong player in the industry was created (Newsham Choice Genetics, 2009). With the merger all patents held by Monsanto are now owned by Newsham Choice Genetics.

1.2. The Swine Patent and its critique

Former Monsanto Choice Genetics applied for a patent on a genetic method used to breed meatier pigs in approximately 160 countries and territories including Europe, the Russian Federation, Asia, America, Australia and New Zealand, in 2005 (Greenpeace, 2005). Basically the method involves selecting genomic trait in swine and breeding animals to achieve those traits. "We applied for a patent ... for some specific reproductive processes in swine," said Monsanto spokesman Chris Horner. "Any pigs that would be produced using this reproductive technique would be covered by these patents." (Gillam, 2005). According to Greenpeace researcher, Christoph Then, who monitors patent applications, “Monsanto isn't just seeking a patent for the method, they are seeking a patent on the actual pigs which are bred from this method […]”.

Claim 16 asks for a patent on: "A pig offspring produced by a method ..."

Claim 17 asks for a patent on: "A pig herd having an increased frequency of a specific …gene…"

Claim 23 asks for a patent on: "A pig population produced by the method..." Claim 30 asks for a patent on: "A swine herd produced by a method..."

[Greenpeace, 2005]

In Europe the patent was granted by the European Patent Office (EPO) in 2008. Granting the patent has led to wide criticism raised by farmers green campaigners and politicians in Germany. They stress that genes, plants and animals are no human inventions but a produce of Mother Nature and hence, patents should be forbidden (hr, 2009). The Bavarian secretary of environment claims that patents on animals withdraw farmers’ independence world wide, increase food prices and deteriorate hunger in third world countries (Barth, 2009). The patent includes a claim that allows Newsham Choice Genetics to track which pigs were produced with the method by means of their genetic sequences. Farmers fear having to pay royalties to the firm in the future, if the particular gene mentioned in the patent is identified in their breeds (Peter, 2009).


Excerpt out of 9 pages


Ethical Dilemma: Newsham Choice Genetics
Patenting a new invention - The Pig
Anglia Ruskin University
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
410 KB
Ethics, Governance, Newsham Choice Genetics, Patents, Ethical Egoism, Utilitarianism, Ethical Dilemma
Quote paper
Jenny Haberer (Author), 2009, Ethical Dilemma: Newsham Choice Genetics, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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