On Monday July 19th the international Conference “Patents on Seeds – The Turning Point” will take place in Munich, Germany. Researchers and representatives from farmers and civil organisations will discuss current trends regarding patents on seeds and animals, highlighting the negative impacts of the current system, the changes that would be needed and possibilities for effecting those changes. The conference is initiated by the European coalition No Patents on Seeds, which consists of NGO’s that have united to call a halt to the ever expanding privatisation of life. On Tuesday July 20th No Patents on Seeds ha sorganised a large manifestation at the European Patent Office.
On July the 20th the highest Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office will be handling a highly controversial case about patenting regular broccoli and tomatoe types. These patents are seen as test cases. If granted this will open the flood gates for a rush of applications by agricultural multinational companies that are ready to acquire the Intellectual Property Rights of large parts of the food chain. In recent years there is worrying new trend to apply for patents on seeds and animals that have been bred conventionally. Granting these patents will have en enormous impact on agriculture and food production. On this day No Patents on Seeds will have a manifestation outside the EPO office in Munich. The next day there is a Public Hearing at the EPO about the impacts of these patents.
The Netherlands have in important position in the international seed market. Dutch breeders are rahter unanimous in their criticism of the patent law which will lead to further monopolisation of the seed market, will frustrate innovation and severely restrict breeders, farmers and researchers to do their job. In response the Dutch Government has called for a thorough investigation of the matter. The resulting report ‘Veredelde Zaken’ concluded that patent law can only go ahead with major exemptions, and important alterations to the European Directive. The Dutch Parliament called for follow up research and firm action. One of the authors of the report will speak at the Conference on Monday.
ASEED Europe will attend the conference and closely follow developments and report on the events. In April 2010, ASEED published the brochure ‘You reap what you sow’ on monopolisation in the seed industry.
Read the No Patents on Seeds Conference report here.