The European Patent Office (EPO) is once again rushing patents on plants derived from conventional breeding through the application procedure. In the coming weeks, around a dozen new patents will be granted, covering species such as broccoli, onions, melons, lettuce and cucumber. This is in strong contrast to EPO practice last year when only very few patents were granted due to a pending precedent decision on the patentability of plants and animals (G2/12). This decision has still not been made.

The granting of further patents on plants derived from conventional breeding is also a setback for the European Parliament, which in May 2012 called upon the EPO to stop these patents because they contravened current European Patent legislation.

Apparently, this new development in patenting has been heavily influenced by the opinion of the President of the EPO, Mr Benoît Battistelli, who recently gave a clear statement in favour of such patents, thus clearly backing the interests of companies such as Monsanto and Syngenta. If Battistelli ́s interpretation of current patent law goes ahead in this form, it will render meaningless the prohibition of patents on plant and animal varieties as well as on conventional breeding.

By taking up this extreme position on patents on plants, Battistelli is acting against the interests of the majority of European plant breeders, the European farmers organisations and many other organisations active for developing countries, the environment and the interests of the consumers.

Article originally from ‘No Patent on Seeds’ briefing. Read the full brief here.