Intellectual property in any aspect of life is just the arbitrary placement of an ownership marker somewhere amid the self-renewing cycle of life itself. It would be no less arbitrary to place the ownership marker with whoever first espied a bacterium or found a plant and dug up a specimen. After all, that’s how it’s done with gold claims, oil, etc.
The fact is that corporatism strategically placed its otherwise arbitrary marker at the position best suited to maximize its power and control. We should see this as a military position, and the military task of the abolitionists is to drive the enemy out of that position.
From this point of view, it never mattered if genetic engineering actually did anything worthwhile. All the corporatists needed was for the techniques to sort-of work to give enough of a pretext for the patenting and for the “innovation” ideology they would then promulgate to get the public to accept this control marker on a cycle of life which, if it belongs to anyone, belongs to humanity as a whole.
On the other hand, it did matter very much that genetic engineering could be claimed to have every sort of miracle potential, since a goal from the start was to use the scientism/technocracy strain of the “progress” ideology as the ideological window dressing. This was designed to turn something as prosaic and brutal as corporate control over agriculture and food into a grand ideological crusade, a kind of mass movement based on liberal-type good vibes about “feeding the world”, “revolutionizing medicine”, and similar lies.
Although the corporate cadres themselves never believed much in their own hype (cf. Nick Azevedo’s testimony), liberals and conservatives, professionals of every stripe, and of course the technicians themselves and “scientists” in general, were supposed to be true believers.
So a key strategic goal also is to discredit and trounce the obscurantist scientism/technocracy/”feed the world” ideology, leaving the stark fact of corporate domination exposed to the full light of day.