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.
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.