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Biotech Century

Featured History of FOET Biotech Initiatives

First Public Demonstration in History to Raise Ethical Questions of the Fledgling Biotech Revolution

Organized the first public demonstration in the world to raise ethical questions on the use of biotechnology at a National Academies of Science conference held in Washington, DC. read more »

Supreme Court Challenge of the First Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) Patent Claim

Provided the main amicus curiae brief on behalf of the US Patent Office in landmark Supreme Court case. In 1980, U.S. scientist Ananda Chakrabarty applied for the first patent on a living organism — a genetically engineered bacterium able to digest oil spills. The case ended up in the US Supreme Court. Jeremy Rifkin, on behalf of his organization, then called the People's Business Commission (PBC), filed the only amicus brief supporting the Patent Office's decision to deny Chakrabarty a patent. read more »

Release of the First Genetically Modified Organism (GMO)

Won landmark federal court suit halting the first government authorized deliberate release of a genetically engineered organism into the environment, pending an environmental assessment of the potential risks. The litigation forced the federal government and countries around the world to establish environmental regulations governing the release of genetically modified organisms into the biosphere. read more »

Biological Warfare

Won federal court suit halting the proposed construction of a high security Department of Defense biological warfare research laboratory at the Dugway proving grounds in Utah, which was to be used to test dangerous and deadly genetically engineered pathogens. read more »

Germ Line Therapy

Assembled a coalition of the nation's religious leaders and prominent scientists to oppose human germ line therapy - the genetic modification of human sperm, eggs and embryonic cells. read more »

National Seed Storage Laboratory

Launched legal proceedings to safeguard America's seed banks. read more »

Regulation of the Transport of Pathogens

Petitioned the Postmaster General to prohibit the transit of dangerous and deadly pathogens through the U.S. mail system. The Postmaster General agreed and halted all handling of deadly pathogens by U.S. mail carriers. read more »

Somatic Gene Therapy

Won a court-ordered settlement in federal court forcing the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to amend its guidelines and make public all deliberations and votes on prospective human gene therapy trials. read more »

Genetic Discrimination

Assembled a coalition of the nation's leading molecular biologists to urge the passage of federal legislation to prohibit genetic discrimination by federal government agencies and private employers. FET consulted in the drafting of the first legislation introduced into the U.S. Congress to prohibit genetic discrimination by employers. read more »

National Coalition Against Surrogacy

Created the National Coalition Against Surrogacy to represent former surrogate mothers and launched a nationwide campaign to outlaw contract surrogacy. FET successfully lobbied state legislatures around the country to ban surrogacy contracts. read more »

Human Growth Hormone Campaign

Pursued a high profile public education campaign to prevent the widespread abuse of genetically engineered human growth hormone for cosmetic and enhancement purposes. read more »

Religious Leaders Coalition to Oppose Patents on Life

Assembled an unprecedented coalition of American religious leaders to oppose the issuing of patents on animal and human genes, tissues, organs, and organisms. read more »

Pure Food Campaign

The Pure Food Campaign (PFC) was established in 1992. The organization was composed of organic farmers and restaurateurs, consumer and environmental groups, and animal welfare organizations opposed to the use of genetic engineering in food. The PFC initiated an international boycott of genetically engineered foods and organized public protests around the world. The campaign initiatives included opposition to the use of bovine growth hormone (rBST) in dairy cows and the market entry of the genetically engineered "Flavr-Savr" tomato. The Coalition demanded mandatory labeling of all genetically modified food products. read more »

  • Chefs Campaign: The Pure Food Campaign was the first effort to demand government labeling of all genetically engineered foods. The Campaign was spearheaded by more than 1,500 of the nation's leading chefs. read more »
  • Campaign to Prohibit Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH): Launched a nationwide consumer boycott of milk and dairy products containing genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (BGH) also known as Bovine Somatotropin (BST). Many of the nation's leading supermarket chains, food processors, dairy cooperatives and distributors agreed to provide consumers with milk and dairy products that are BGH-free. read more »
  • Save Organic Standards: Launched nationwide Save Organic Standards Campaign (SOS) to prohibit the U.S. Department of Agriculture from including genetically engineered foods under the organic label in the new federal guidelines governing organic food standards. The USDA received over 280,000 letters of protest, which resulted in the withdrawal of the proposed federal standards. read more »

Neem Tree Patent Challenge

Organized a global coalition of more than two hundred organizations from thirty-five nations in an unprecedented legal challenge at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office against the W.R. Grace Company. Prominent farm, trade, scientific, and academic groups from around the world filed a formal petition calling for the recinding of W.R Grace's controversial patent granting the company exclusive use of a pesticide extract from India's neem tree. read more »

Global Challenge of the Breast Cancer Gene Patent

Organized a global coalition of more than 400 women's organizations in more than forty nations to oppose the patenting of the human breast cancer gene. The coalition includes many of America's leading feminists. read more »

Lawsuit Against the Monsanto Corporation

In 1997, FET facilitated the filing of a class action lawsuit against Monsanto, Syngenta, Aventis, and Pioneer in the United States District Court in St. Louis on behalf of United States farmers. The complaint alleges that the four companies formed a global cartel through which they fixed prices on genetically modified seeds, and conspired to restrain trade in the GM corn and soybean seed markets. read more »

Human-Animal Chimera Patent Challenge

In 1997, Dr. Stuart Newman, the inventor of the patent claim and Jeremy Rifkin, the co-owner of the invention, submitted a patent application to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) seeking a patent for certain human/animal hybrid life forms (chimeras) including a "humouse" and a "humanzee". The patent raised fundamental questions regarding how much human material is patentable under existing U.S. statutes. The patent was ultimately rejected by the US PTO in 2005. The aim of the patent was not to actually create the chimeras, but, rather, to force the US PTO to deny patents on all human-animal chimeric inventions in the future. If the PTO were to have granted the patent, Dr. Newman and Mr. Rifkin pledged to hold the twenty-year patent on such research in order to keep others from attempting to create and patent such creations. read more »

Treaty to Share the Genetic Commons

The Treaty Initiative to Share the Genetic Commons, which aims to prohibit all patents on plant, microorganism, animal, and human life, was formally launched in February 2002 at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil and at the PrepCom for Rio+10 Conference at the United Nations in New York City. More than 359 NGOs from over 50 countries have signed the treaty, in an unprecedented effort to prevent global life science companies and governments from patenting the genes that make up millions of years of evolution. read more »

Anti-Cloning Initiative

In 2001, FET assembled a coalition of 64 of the nation's leading progressive policy leaders, academics and activists in a statement of support of congressional legislation to prohibit both therapeutic and reproductive human cloning. read more »

Public Education Campaign in Support of Marker Assisted Selection (MAS) Technology

Launched a global public education campaign in support of cutting-edge genomics research and marker assisted selection (MAS) technology, as a "soft-path" alternative to genetically modified food crops. read more »



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