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Opposition to Monsanto bio-piracy patent on soybeans rejected

12 October 2017
by No Patents on Seeds -- last modified 12 October 2017

The European Patent Office (EPO) rejected on 11 October the opposition filed by 'No Patents on Seeds!' against the Monsanto patent EP 2134870.


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The patent held by Monsanto covers the use of hundreds of gene sequences that occur in natural soybean varieties and other similar species; they are to be used in conventional breeding. 'No Patents on Seeds!' will now file an appeal as, according to European patent laws, patents on conventional breeding cannot be granted.

"Currently, we do not have sufficient legal certainty in this area and the EPO can in future continue to grant patents on the conventional breeding of plants and animals," says Christoph Then, who was at the hearing in Munich. "We are demanding that the loopholes in legislation are closed to prevent large companies from being the only ones able to breed plants and animals."

The EPO stated that their reason for rejecting the opposition was that although patents cannot be granted on the conventional breeding of plants and animals, they can be granted on the selection of plants and animals for breeding. However, 'No Patents on Seeds!' points to the fact that the selection of plants and animals for breeding is inextricably linked to breeding. Therefore, the EPO interpretation of current legislation is unacceptable.

The No Patents on Seeds coalition is initiated by the Berne Declaration, Greenpeace, Misereor, No Patents on Life, Swissaid and the Norwegian Development Fund, and campaigns for a clear regulation in patent law. Their initiative is supported globally by over 300 NGOs and farmers’ organisations, and has collected about 100.000 signatures against patents on plants and animals. The coalition now urges the institutions of the EU to go for clear legal regulations to exclude from patentability plants and animals, genetic material and processes for breeding of plants and animals and food derived thereof.

No Patents on Seeds
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