More and more patents on conventional breeding granted

Put emergency brakes on European Patent Office now!

Munich/ Brussels 3.4.2012 - Today, the international coalition of “No
Patents on Seeds” is publishing a report on patents connected to the
conventional breeding of plants and animals granted by, or applied for at
the European Patent Office (EPO) in 2011. The report gives examples of
patents on sunflowers, melons, cucumbers, rice and wheat. Patents were
granted despite a decision of the highest court of the EPO (Enlarged Board
of Appeal) in 2010, reaffirming the prohibition of patents on conventional
breeding as written in European patent laws. As the new report shows,
industry and examiners at the EPO are systematically using legal loopholes
to grant patents on seeds, plants and even harvest and food products derived

“These patents are blocking access to biological diversity, hampering
innovation, reducing choice for farmers and introducing new dependencies for
food producers and consumers. It is now time for institutions like the
European Parliament and European Commission to gain legal leadership to stop
the selling out the resources needed for daily living. They have to put the
emergency brakes on now”, says Christoph Then, one of the coordinators of
“No Patents on Seeds”.

The report shows that political action is urgently needed to stop the EPO
from manoeuvring themselves permanently into a grey area to benefit the
interests of international agrochemical companies. There are already around
1000 patent applications pending that are connected to the conventional
breeding of plants. Around 100 new applications were filed in 2011, more
than a dozen patents were granted in this field. Another dozen patents were
granted in connection with farm animal breeding claiming breeding material,
sex selection, marker assisted selection, cloning or genetic engineering.
All in all, by the end of 2011, nearly 2000 patents on plants and around
1200 patents on animals were granted by the EPO, with and without
genetic engineering.

In recent months, farmers, breeders and food producers have raised their
concerns about current developments. The German and the Dutch parliaments
adopted resolutions against patenting and increasing monopolisation of plant
and animal breeding. Many observers now expect a clear signal from the
European Parliament and EU Commission since they adopted a patent directive
in 1998 excluding the “essentially biological” breeding of plants and

The No Patents on Seeds initiative is urging for clarification in European
Patent law to exclude patents on plants and animals, breeding material,
processes for breeding, selecting of plants and animals for breeding
purposes, food and other products derived from plants and animals.

Link to the report:

For further information, please contact: Christoph Then, +49 151 54638040,

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