The battle for natural fruits and vegetables in Europe has verified that big corporate muscle habitually throttles protestor vocal chords nine times out of ten. Almost eleven months ago, the Munich EPO handed down a decision, which sounds sensible enough;
“… concludes that a process for the production of plants involving sexually crossing whole plant genomes, and the subsequent selection of plants is not patentable. The mere inclusion of a technical step which serves to enable or assist the performance of the steps of sexually crossing the whole genomes of plants or of subsequently selecting plants does not override this exclusion from patentability. While technical devices or means, such as genetic markers, may themselves be patentable inventions, their use does not make an essentially biological process patentable.
The Board held finally that processes for producing plants by inserting or modifying a trait in the genome by using genetic engineering do not rely on sexual crossing of whole genomes and may therefore be patentable. However, in such a case sexual crossing and selection steps should not be in the claims, since adding further technical processing steps before or after the steps of sexual crossing and selection does not render such processes patentable either.”
Ok, so what happened in the interim to arrive at a new fork in the road in the never-ending tug of war to privatise life itself, have monetisers and securitisers won the day?
farmwars.org filed this report; Three hundred people representing a broad range of environmental activists, farmers and development organisations held a protest against patents on seeds and animals outside the European Patent Office (EPO) in Munich.
“We demand that European Governments as well as the German Minister for Agriculture and European colleagues prepare for legal action against the patent. Granting patents on plant varieties or on conventional breeding is prohibited within Europe. This patent is in conflict with both prohibitions.”
Correctomundo, last July’s protests attracted nearly 150 demonstrators but they also had global powerhouse Unilever on side with it’s subsidiary SYGENTA challenging UK based Plant Bioscience Ltd. EPOs latest missive stating the patent won’t be revoked re-draws battle lines for the foreseeable and Eurocrats are back to business unusual.
The Good Guys?
“We originally filed an opposition to the ‘broccoli patent’ because we did not believe the requirements of patentability were met,” Syngenta said in an e-mailed statement.