Call for review of EU biotech patents
A petition calling for an “urgent rethink” of European plant biotechnology patent rules has been handed into the European Parliament. The petition, with 70,000 signatures, was started in March 2011 by a coalition of European groups called “No Patents on Seeds”. It is calling for clear regulations that exclude from patentability plants, genetic material and processes for plant breeding, and food derived from them. Existing prohibitions concerning patents on plants can be “easily circumvented” and about 1,800 patents on plants have been granted since the EU biotechnology patents Directive (98/44) was adopted. Patents on gene sequences and breeding processes are easily extended to plant varieties, to the detriment of smaller breeders and farmers, the groups say. The petition is timed to coincide with the Parliament’s forthcoming debate on the proposed EU-wide patent system ( Agrow No 645, p 11).