Info Service on Biodiversity and Traditional Knowledge (Feb14/13)
Monsanto bio-piracy supported by European Patent Office
Patent granted on screening biodiversity in soybean plants for climate adaption
release by No Patents on Seeds
“This is nothing other than large-scale bio-piracy. Monsanto is trying to control access to genetic information needed to develop soybeans adapted to climate change”, says Christoph Then for the international coalition No Patents on Seeds. “Interpreted correctly, European patent law does not allow the EPO to grant patents on conventional breeding. What we now need is a strong response from European governments to stop these patents.”
In May 2012, a resolution was adopted by the European Parliament, which “calls on the EPO to exclude from patenting products derived from conventional breeding and all conventional breeding methods.” However, this resolution has so far been widely ignored by the EPO. A political decision to stop these patents could be taken by the Administrative Council of the EPO, which is made up of representatives of the European governments. The German government has already announced a European initiative. In January 2014, the French Senate asked the government of France to become actively involved.
The organisations behind the coalition of No Patents on Seeds! are extremely concerned that such patents will foster further market concentration, making farmers and other stakeholders of the food supply chain even more dependent on just a few big international companies and ultimately reduce consumer choice. The coalition of No Patents on Seeds! is organised by Bionext (Netherlands), The Berne Declaration (Switzerland), GeneWatch (UK), Greenpeace, Misereor (Germany), Development Fund (Norway), No Patents on Life (Germany), Red de Semillas (Spain), Rete Semi Rurali (Italy), Reseau Semences Paysannes (France) and Swissaid (Switzerland). They are calling for a revision of European Patent Law to exclude breeding material, plants and animals and food derived thereof from patentability. The coalition is supported by several hundred other organisations.