International coalition “No Patents on Seeds” concerned about abuse of patent law
3 February 2012. New Delhi/ Munich. The renowned Indian activist Vandana Shiva and the European NGO-platform “No Patents on Seeds” joined forces today to file an opposition against European Patent EP1962578. This patent claims melons with a natural resistance to certain plant viruses originating in India. The patent was granted in May 2011 as an invention to the US company Monsanto by the European Patent Office (EPO) in Munich, Germany. Critics point out that the patent was granted even though European Patent Law does not allow patents on conventional breeding. Furthermore, the reasons for the opposition also include the issue of biopiracy, which is why Vandana Shiva and her organisation Navdanya from India are engaged in this opposition.
“We believe that plants and seeds are not human inventions, and therefore not patentable. This patent is based on biopiracy since it patents traits taken from indigenous melon varieties from India. There is an urgent need to ban all patents on life and living organisms including genes, breeding material and biodiversity”, says Vandana Shiva, who was awarded with the Right Livelihoods Award (Alternative Nobel Price) in 1993.
For several years, the plant disease Cucurbit yellow stunting disorder virus (CYSDV) has been spreading through North America, Europe and North Africa. The Indian melon, which confers resistance to this virus, is registered in international seed banks as PI 313970. With the new patent Monsanto can now block access to all breeding material inheriting the resistance derived from the Indian melon. The patent might discourage future breeding efforts and the development of new melon varieties. Melon breeders and farmers could be severely restricted by the patent. At the same time, it is already known that further breeding will be necessary to produce melons that are actually protected against the plant virus.
The coalition No Patents on Seeds! , which started the opposition is supported by the Berne Declaration (Switzerland),GeneWatch (UK), Greenpeace (Germany), Misereor (Germany), Development Fund (Norway), No Patents on Life (Germany), Reseau Semences Paysannes (France) and Swissaid (Switzerland). These organisations are calling for a revision of European Patent Law to exclude breeding material, plants and animals and food derived thereof from patentability. Since March 2011, more than 250 organisations and around 53 000 individuals have signed this petition.
Link to the patent: http://www.no-patents-on-seeds.org/en/information/patent-cases/patent-melons
Link to the text of the opposition:
Link to the call http://www.no-patents-on-seeds.org/en/recent-activities/open-letter-members-european-parliament-and-european-commission
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