Egenis seminar with Berris Charnley, 'Why didn’t an equivalent to the US Plant Patent Act of 1930 emerge in Britain?'
Berris Charnley, Egenis
University of Exeter,Egenis,Byrne House,St Germans Road,Exeter, EX4 4PJ
Room no: GF7
Time: 3:00 - 4:30pm
In 1906 the Royal Horticultural Society hosted the Third International Conference on Hybridisation and Cross Breeding. The meeting is remembered now as a triumph of the Mendelian school, whose leader, William Bateson, used the occasion to put into public circulation his new term for the science, “genetics.” Less widely remembered is that the meeting also saw a session bringing together plant breeders to discuss another, related, matter: whether they could use the law to protect their intellectual property rights in the novel varieties that, they reckoned, would surely arise ever more abundantly thanks to the work of the Mendelians. So plant intellectual property was an explicit point of discussion among plant breeders in Britain from the early years of the twentieth century. And yet over the succeeding decades there would never emerge anything comparable to the US Plant Patent Act of 1930. Why not? This paper will offer a preliminary answer, emphasizing the extent to which different paths of agricultural development, and experiences of the Great War, shaped the political and moral contexts of plant breeding in each country.