Protest against patent on broccoli at the European Patent Office

EU governments urged to take legal action

Munich, 26.10.2011.

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. With six meter long flying vegetables, a stall with patented broccoli and agricultural machinery, the focus of the protest was the sell-out of resources needed for daily living. After the EPO announced that the patent on the broccoli (EP 1069819) would not be revoked, speakers from various organisations are now looking for political action. Speakers at the demonstration included representatives from organisations such as Friends of the Earth, the German Family Farmers Organisation, the international coalition of “No Patents On Seeds” and others.

Speakers urged politicians to take legal action against the patent. After the patent is finally granted at the EPO, it can still be challenged in the national courts of its Member states. “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. If the existing patent law is so inadequately worded that any legal challenge is bound to fail then it has to be changed. This is the only way to protect the interests of consumers, farmers and breeders,” says Christoph Then, patent expert for Greenpeace and one of the speakers of the coalition of “No Patents On Seeds.”

Speakers from development organisations are also warning against the consequences for less developed countries that are already suffering from speculation with agricultural resources and soaring food prices. "In making these decisions the European Patent Office is playing an irresponsible game. Breeders as well as farmers can only assume their responsibility for world food security if they have free access to seeds. The ongoing rise in food prices must not be further fueled by patent monopolies," says Francois Meienberg from Berne Declaration (Switzerland).

Recent research carried out by Ruth Tippe from the initiative “No Patents on Life!” found that further patents with claims on bread, flour and noodles (EP1331845) and cucumber (EP1433378) are due to be granted. “The EPO is about to grant further patents very soon. For example, on 2 November a patent will be granted to Bayer claiming cucumber derived from conventional breeding. If this development is not stopped, there will soon be patents on air, light and love.”

Pictures of the demonstration here

Francois Meienberg 0041 797967612,
Christoph Then 0049 15154638040,
Ruth Tippe 0049 1728963858