New report: The future of seeds and food

by GRAIN | 27 Apr 2009

TITLE: New report: The future of seeds and food AUTHOR: No Patents on Seeds Coalition PUBLICATION: press release DATE: 24 April 2009 URL: tent&task=blogcategory&id=3&Itemid=28

Press release, 24 April 2009


New report shows dramatic scale on which patents are currently being granted

Lucerne/Munich, 24 April. -- The European Patent Office is despite growing protests granting further property rights on foodstuffs, plants and seed which have been conventionally grown. This emerges from a report being presented today in Lucerne in Switzerland by Greenpeace, No Patents on Life, the Berne Declaration, Swissaid, the Development Fund and Misereor. Besides maize and lettuce, trees, baby food and beer are claimed in the 500 patent applications researched by the No Patents on Life organisation and in roughly 70 patents already issued. The organisations involved are calling for the flood of patents to be stopped by clear political guidelines. Only last week Greenpeace and Misereor filed an opposition to the breeding of pigs at the EPO.

"Some agricultural corporations want global monopolies on human food," says Christoph Then, a consultant to Greenpeace and one of the authors of the report. "In this way just ten corporations now control two-thirds of the global seed market. These patents are theft of what farmers' achievements in breeding. We need clear legal regulations prohibiting patents on seed and farm animals."

The report, "The future of seeds and food under the growing threat of patents and market con­cen­t­ration", gives a comprehensive overview of the scale of the patenting of seed, plants and food in Europe. While patent applications for genetically modified plants have been on the decrease in the last few years, applications for plants that are conventionally grown are now booming. Should this practice be supported in an imminent decision by the EPO's Enlarged Board of Appeal, it is to be expected that farmers will be hugely impeded in their work in breeding in the future and will become more heavily dependent.

"Such patents make food more expensive and can be a new cause of global food crises," says Tina Goethe at Swissaid. "They affect farmers and consumers in the industrialised world just as much as people in developing countries."

The organisations have founded a global alliance, to which over 50 agricultural associations belong -
- to see their demands met. In the political arena, too, a reform of patent laws is on the agenda again. The state governments of Hesse and Bavaria have already declared they want to support a ban on the patenting of plants and animals.

The report can be downloaded in English or German at tent&task=view&id=91&Itemid=42

Author: GRAIN
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