The European Patent Office
(EPO) has revoked a patent held by Bayer for traditionally-bred easy-to-harvest
The patent was originally
awarded to Monsanto in 2013 for broccoli plants with an “extend head” which
made them easier to harvest. However the following year an opposition to the
patent was filed by a group of organisations.
The cancellation of the
patent follows new rules introduced last year by the EPO which stated that
patents can no longer be granted on plants or animals derived via conventional
breeding techniques such as crossing and selection.
The move was welcomed by
campaign group No Patents on Seeds, which had protested about the original
patent with a giant head of broccoli and a 75,000 signature petition. “This is
an important success for the broad coalition of civil society organisations
against patents on plants and animals,” said the group’s Christoph Then.
“Without our activities, the EPO rules would not have been changed and the
patent would still be valid. The giant corporations, such as Bayer, Syngenta
and BASF, have failed in their attempt to completely monopolise conventional
breeding through using patents.” However, the group added that issues remain,
following the rejection of opposition to patent for barley varieties held by
Carlsberg and Heineken.
Jason Rutt, a patent
attorney at law firm Boult Wade Tennant, added, “There are a plethora of other
seed cases maturing at the EPO and it will be fascinating to see how this
decision impacts them.”
The post Bayer
Monsanto broccoli patent revoked appeared first on Hort News.
According to reports, some wholesalers have expressed concern about the recent spate of hot, dry weather on the availability of certain UK produce lines, including broccoli and some soft fruit.
Following temperatures of 31oC in Lincolnshire and 25oC in Cornwall, former Secretts Direct boss Vernon Mascarenhas of New Covent Garden’s First Choice Produce told the Fresh Produce Journal that “Broccoli will be hardest hit because generally you don’t irrigate broccoli. In this heat the broccoli plant will dehydrate and shut down.”
He added, “Strawberries are also going to be a problem. In this weather strawberry plants can just shut down and stop producing. “Everyone loves the hot weather but people should realise what it can do to our food chain,” he said. “There are going to be consequences.”
Supermarket Asda has promoted the consumption of broccoli leaves on its blog, prompting some industry commentators to suggest that they could become the next ‘on trend’ green vegetable.
Writing for Asda Good Living, Alexia Dellner said, ‘Broccoli leaves are large (similar to chard), taste slightly sweet and are highly versatile. Usually left in the field and ploughed back into the land, American chefs and health bloggers have already clocked on to how delicious the leaves are and how easy they are to eat! Broccoli leaves can be boiled, steamed or sautéed – similar to how you would use kale. For an easy side dish, simply fry leaves in a little olive oil with garlic and you’re ready to go.’
Charlie Mills, Asda’s fresh produce manager told The Grocer, “We’re committed to tackling food waste at Asda and are constantly looking at our produce across the board to see where else we can make a difference. When we discovered the delicious taste of the broccoli leaf, coupled with its outstanding health benefits, we knew it was a clear winner to hit shelves.”
Photo Caption: Broccoli leaves could be the next green vegetable to hit supermarket shelves.
Copa and Cogeca have issued a warning over the consequences for plant breeders and others about using patents in the EU agriculture sector.
The comments were made at a seminar in Brussels on 24 June on the interface between patents and plant variety rights. The unions say granting patents will result in fewer products and varieties and additional costs.
Thor Kofoed, Chairman of Copa-Cogeca Working Party on Seeds, said “A patent system in the EU agriculture sector will not help farmers to get a better crop variety adapted to local conditions. Instead, it will lead to less products and less varieties and additional costs. Copa and Cogeca are very concerned by the increasing number of patents granted to plants.”
He pointed to the recent decision of the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office (EPO) which recognises two patents: one from a British company for broccoli that contains a bitter anti-carcinogenic substance, and another from an Israeli company for ‘wrinkly’ tomatoes which have reduced water content.
Copa-Cogeca maintain that the specific characteristics of these broccoli and tomato plants were not invented or artificially manufactured, but were present in the wild parent plants and are the result of crossing and selection practices, which are essentially biological processes. ‘This protection will mean that all companies that produce varieties with the same features will have to obtain a licence from the patent holder. It could jeopardise progress in breeding, and decrease innovation and biodiversity, thus resulting in increasing consolidation in the seed industry,’ the unions added.