‘The Daily Show’ Honors the Unsung Heroes of the Food System: Patent Lawyers

‘Do you know how hard it is to develop seeds? It’s not like they grow on trees!’

The Daily Show Talks Monsanto and Seed Patents

A lawyer hard at work, hunting down proof of seed patent infringement. (Photo: Comedy Central)

Willy Blackmore is TakePart’s Food editor. He has written for The Awl, The New Inquiry, and elsewhere.

A segment from last night’s The Daily Show opens with slowly sweeping shots of farmland, the golden wheat waving in the breeze. As the pastoral shots roll by, a voice says, “America’s heartland grows crops to feed the world. But we often forget to acknowledge those who bring us this bountiful harvest year after year: biotech companies.”

What follows is a withering comic indictment of Monsanto’s business model, where the biotech company’s legal stooges are cast in the role the downtrodden farmer plays in most every David vs. Goliath story about a grower fighting against the GMO giant.

In the story, Daily Show correspondent Aasif Mandvi conducts a combative interview with GMO critic Troy Roush, holding him accountable for Big Farmer’s aggression toward Monsanto and its patent lawyers.

Aasif Mandvi: I mean, this is backbreaking work they’re [patent lawyers] doing. What are you doing?

Troy Roush: Growing food.

Mandvi: Big deal. Any hipster can grow food. You can grow tomatoes on a Williamsburg rooftop. It doesn’t take a lot of skill

But patent lawyers? They’re the true innovators, disrupting the archaic sell-your-harvest model that’s been stagnating for that past few thousand years. As Mandvi says, “That’s why patent lawyers are so vital. They’ve done what farmers have never been able to do: collect royalties on nature.”

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