That’s me. Well, most days. Monday through Friday, when I’m home, I have the same lunch: quesadillas, sweet peppers, and an apple.
We see mostly Fuji and Gala in the organic produce section at the supermarket. They come a dozen to a bag and are usually on the shelf all year. They grow apples all over the world so you can have ones ready to eat regardless of the season. That’s one of the benefits of globalization. The relentless corporate pursuit of cheap labor, which spurs globalization, has some rotten consequences for local economies, no question. But the flip side is the enlarged marketplace and the increased movement of goods which feed our consumer needs.
But I don’t want to talk about economics. I want to talk about apples. Apparently the next big thing in apples is the Cosmic Crisp®. Yes, that’s right, it’s a registered trademark. Apparently you can patent an apple!
This apple variety was invented at Washington State University and is now a licensed product. They have a marketing arm, Proprietary Variety Management, that expects to generate millions from this patented fruit.
This is not new. People have recognized the need to patent cultivars since the 1930 Plant Patent Act. Many varieties of agricultural products have been bred for commercial exploitation. Cosmic Crisp apples are not GMO, they were “classically bred” which should help their marketing.
Biotechnology firms generally patent a particular technique for modifying an organism, a so-called utility patent which has a different scope than a plant patent. Much of the controversy about GMOs involves what can or can not (or should or should not) be patented under existing laws.
But if you are a kick-ass botany nerd and can come up with a new plant the old-fashioned way you can get a patent and make some money. That’s assuming your new plant is commercially viable, that is, somebody wants to take a risk on planting it and trying to sell the harvest.
The Cosmic Crisp took twenty years to make it to market. You can’t just cross-pollinate and graft and all that stuff, you have to test and test and test again to see if your novel variety can handle the rigors of production. And it better taste good as today’s consumers are much fussier, and there are a lot of competing products.
I’ll report back if I ever get a chance to eat a Cosmic Crisp®!