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Copyrighted Grapes?

17 September 2008


(from Flickr via Serious Eats via Presurfer via BoingBoing)

The string of white text on the bag reads:

The recipient of the produce contained in this package agrees not to propagate or reproduce any portion of the produce, including (but not limited to) seeds, stems, tissue and fruit.

These are Sunview grapes. (Sunview is one of California’s largest producer and distributor of grapes)
I find this deeply disturbing on so many levels. Firstly, it means that the grapes are almost certainly genetically modified. The next thought that crosses my mind is to wonder if this is enforceable, or even legal.

I am a member of Free Culture at my college, which supports copyright reform (not revocation, just things like greater flexibility in copyright choices, limiting it to the lifespan of the creator and allowing for markedly original derivative works) and DRM removal (if we buy something, we should be able to use it on all our own systems).

That food would even need to be defended from overuse of copyright used to be unthinkable to me. Yet coming to know (and hate) Monsanto’s practices, with it’s patented genetically modified crops and bullying legal team, it has become sadly less surprising for me, but no less outrageous.

Have we become so distanced from our food that we treat it like a piece of software? Food is our life source, as important as the air we breathe, and the ability to grow our own food should be an irrevocable right. The very concept of a EULA on grapes should be unthinkable and scandalous. But how many people even notice?

On a similar note, some of the boys have sprouted some seeds from the Muscat grapes from the local farmers’ market. They’re going to try to plant them in the garden here when they’re strong enough and the weather’s right.

In our plot, the deer got to the soybeans before we did, but the peas and leafy greens and root vegetables are starting to sprout. I am both excited and nervous – it has been a long time since I’ve grown anything, and never any of these.

Also, much to my dismay, most of the herbs I have tried to grow in my apartment have failed. Even the Aloe is starting to wilt. The problem seems to be a heavy humidity. The Aloe has been watered once, lightly, near two weeks ago (the soil was dry when I got it) and the soil is still completely damp. I’m not sure what to do.

Love,
Herbert.

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