My strategic management class on Saturday discussed an absolutely fascinating case before the Supreme Court involving Myriad Genetics, Inc.’s patent of human genetic material. The question sounds absurd and dystopian: can a company patent human genes? Myriad’s argument, which was part of the discussion in class, was whether companies would undertake the significant burden of scientific investment without the protection of their investments (if successful) from reproduction in the form of patents.
I thought about the “fruits of nature” argument while I was reading recipes, too. At what point have I created anything new by writing an interesting recipe? I think a recipe is just a tiny bit like an isolated gene: I didn’t make anything that goes into the recipe; they’re just the same old ingredients on my shelf as they are on any other shelf. I haven’t found a new cooking method. But maybe here I have found a tasty, delicious way to frame the pancake and pecan pie syrup issue in a new light. And even if it’s not novel, I do know this: these pancakes are amazing and the syrup and pecans on top are so delightful; they taste just like pecan pie.
Chocolate Chunk Pancakes with Pecan Pie Syrup
For the chocolate chunk pancakes you will need:
- 1/2 cup half-and-half
- 1/4 cup milk
- 2 tbsp. white vinegar
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp. white sugar
- 2 tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 egg
- 1 large chocolate bar, chopped into large chunks (1 cup when chopped)
- 3 tbsp melted butter
- Cooking spray
- Combine milk, half-and-half, and vinegar in a small bowl and set aside.
- In a separate bowl, stir flour, baking powder and baking soda.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine melted butter, sugars, vanilla extract, and spices.
- Add in egg (beat slightly first) and then slowly incorporate flour mixture, alternating between flour and milk.
- Stir until just combined, then add in chocolate chunks.
- Cook pancakes on medium heat, with a generous amount of cooking spray to facilitate the flipping. It’s hard enough without the stickiness challenge.
- Serve nice and warm topped with loads of pecan pie syrup.
For the pecan pie syrup, you will need:
- 1/2 cup water
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 3 tbsp. butter
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
- 1 cup toasted, chopped pecans
- Pour water in a medium-sized sauce pan on medium-low heat and heat for a couple of minutes before adding sugars. Stir sugar mixture until dissolved, about five minutes, adding in salt.
- Add butter after sugars are dissolved and reduce heat slightly.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, cinnamon, and vanilla. Add in two tablespoons full of the warmed sugar mixture to the egg bowl. The goal here is to slowly heat up the eggs without cooking them.
- Slowly add the egg mixture to the sauce pan with the sugar. Fold in toasted pecans.
- Serve warm on top of pancakes.
- Reserve approximately 2/3 cup syrup to use in an upcoming recipe post: cinnamon bun granola. You’ll be so thrilled that you did.
The danger in ruling against Myriad, proponents of the company’s position argue, is that it could stymie future investment into genetics and other processes without any claim on the fruit of the research. The danger in ruling for Myriad, in my opinion, is that right now companies are not allowed to engage in further research on genes that are subject to Myriad’s patent. The genes that Myriad isolated are closely related to breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Simply put: research is unable to move forward in the status quo without violating intellectual property laws. I feel uncomfortable with any justification for a law that slows down scientific research in the name of protecting a property interest (leaving alone completely that the “property interest” is contained within the human body). I also think it might be a bit short-sighted and uncreative. Is there really no other way to profit (financially) from a breakthrough in this research without erecting a man-made barrier to research? I don’t buy that. This case wouldn’t be Supreme Court fodder now if others didn’t feel that they should be able to research the gene. Doesn’t this in a fairly significant way undermine Myriad’s argument?