On Plants, October 20 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 4:00-6:00 pm, Gradroom at Grad House, 66 Harbord St, Toronto. All are welcome. No advance registration is required.


Genetically Modified Plants and the Law: A Growth Industry
Robert Smith (Law)

My topic begins with the question “can a company patent a plant?”  In my speech I will explain the extent to which genetically modified plants are patentable in Canada and the implications that this development poses to other areas of the law.  For example, what should the legal consequences be if patented genetically modified plants begin to grow on a farmer’s land after their seeds were blown there by the wind?  Should the farmer be able to sue the owner of the patent for creating plants which have interfered with her property and contaminated her crop?

Cultivating Women: Plants, Knowledge and Gender in Late Eighteenth-Century Paris
Margaret Olszewski, (Medicine, History and Philosophy of Science)

My talk will consider how plants were used to negotiate gender identities in late eighteenth-century Paris.  I examine how different appropriations of nature, including acquisition, usage and possession, constructed the individual and collective identities of women in this period. Tracing the varied uses of plants will reveal the different ways women could define or were defined by gender.

Plant-pathogen Evolutionary Arms Races
Honour McCann (Evolutionary Biology)

Plants have evolved in the context of persistent bacterial communities and have a number of remarkable adaptations that prevent bacteria from invading and growing within plant tissues. Bacterial pathogens have in turn evolved effective methods of attacking plant hosts. This interaction is referred to as an evolutionary arms race. I will present some research findings that illustrate how sophisticated plant defences keep your gardens green, despite the ubiquity of potentially devastating bacteria.

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