European Patent Office revokes Monsanto patent on melons20 January 2016
by No Patents On Seeds -- last modified 20 January 2016
The European Patent Office (EPO) has revoked a patent held by Monsanto on melons (EP1962578) for technical reasons.
Monsanto was claiming melons with a natural resistance to plant viruses as its own invention, derived from breeding without genetic engineering. The resistance was detected in Indian melons. The patent was granted by the European Patent Office (EPO) even though European patent law does not allow patents on plant varieties and processes for conventional breeding. The Indian government supported the opposition from No Patents on Seeds! by a sending letter requesting the patent to be revoked. The letter was sent to the EPO just one day before the hearing. Essentially the application of the patent constituted an act of biopiracy - violating Indian law and international treaties.
“The patent was based on essentially biological processes for breeding and claimed plant varieties. This was a clear violation of European patent law”, says Christoph Then for the international coalition of No Patents on Seeds! which organised the opposition. “It is a huge success that the patent has been revoked! Nevertheless, the general problem cannot be resolved simply by filing oppositions at the EPO. Politicians need to make sure that laws are applied properly and prohibitions are no longer ignored.”
The opposition was filed by Arbeitsgemeinschaft Bäuerliche Landwirtschaft (Germany), Bund Naturschutz in Bayern (Germany), Berne Declaration (Switzerland), Gesellschaft für Ökologische Forschung (Germany), Greenpeace (Germany), No Patents on Life! (Germany), Verband Katholisches Landvolk (Germany) and Foundation for Future Farming.
The organisations behind No Patents On Seeds are especially concerned about increasing number of patents on plants, seeds and farm animals and their impact on farmers, breeders, innovation and biodiversity. These patents create new dependencies for farmers, breeders, food producers and consumers. These patents have to be regarded as misappropriation of basic resources in farm and food production and as general abuse of patent law. We call for an urgent re-think of European patent law in biotechnology and plant breeding and to support clear regulations that exclude from patentability processes for breeding, genetic material, plants and animals and food derived thereof.No Patents on Seeds!