To the President of the European Patent Office (EPO), Mr António Campinos

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Stop the patenting of plants and animals derived from conventional breeding!

Dear Mr Campinos

In June 2017, the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation decided that patents on plants and animals derived from “essentially biological” breeding processes could not be granted. Consequently, the Implementing Regulations of the European Patent Convention (EPC) were amended and the new rule 28(2) was adopted. This rule reads as follows: “Under Article 53(b), European patents shall not be granted in respect of plants or animals exclusively obtained by means of an “essentially biological process”.

However, in December 2018, the Technical Board of Appeal of the EPO, after examining a patent held by Syngenta (EP2753168), stated that Rule 28(2) was in conflict with Article 53(b) EPC and should, therefore, not be applied. Based on this interpretation of European patent law, the EPO could now grant further patents on plants and animals derived from conventional breeding, despite all contracting states as well as the European Union agreeing that such patents are not allowed according to Article 53(b) EPC. This development has created serious legal uncertainty that is severely damaging to European patent law and the functioning of European plant protection law; and will ultimately endanger European plant breeding, future food security and agrobiodiversity.

In order to avoid damage to European society, we call on you to:

• suspend all ongoing patent procedures covering plants and animals derived from conventional breeding. This measure should also encompass plants derived from so-called random mutagenesis since there are cases pending under Art 53(b) in connection with Rule 28 (2).

• to start a process in cooperation with the EU and the contracting states of the EPO to gain sufficient legal clarity and certainty to make sure that conventional plant and animal breeding is excluded from patentability as a whole. Also in future, breeders need to have access to plant varieties to breed and market their own new varieties freely. If patents are granted on genetic engineering, the scope of these patents will clearly need to be restricted to the specific technical processes.

We are aware, Mr Campinos, that as president of the EPO, you take the interests of the patent sector and affiliated industries into account, but we would also like to remind you of your responsibility to respect the needs, rights and the interests of broader society, including those of breeders, farmers and consumers. Without the latter, there will be an imbalance between patent law and the interests of general society in which the patent system will lose its justification.

Press release from 24/01/2019

The appeal to the president

Current media reports

Organisations who want to sign the appeal can contact NO PATENTS ON SEEDS! via email. 

(Private individuals can not sign the call.)

Christoph Then (info@no-patents-on-seeds.org)

Johanna Eckhardt (johanna.eckhardt@no-patents-on-seeds.org)

You can find the contact form here

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Signatory institutions (list below is constantly updated):

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  1. Arbeitsgemeinschaft bäuerliche Landwirtschaft (AbL)
  2. Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Umweltbeauftragten der Gliedkirchen der evangelischen Kirche in Deutschland (AGU)
  3. Arche Noah
  4. Bäuerliche Erzeugergemeinschaft Schwäbisch Hall (BESH)
  5. Bäuerliche Gesellschaft Demeter im Norden
  6. Bund Ökologische Lebensmittelwirtschaft (BÖLW)
  7. Bundesverband Naturkost Naturwaren (BNN)
  8. Bingenheimer Saatgut
  9. Bioland
  10. Bundesstelle Katholische Landvolkbewegung (KLB)
  11. BUND Naturschutz in Bayern e.V.
  12. Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz
  13. Bundesverband Deutscher Milchviehhalter e.V.
  14. Brot für die Welt
  15. Cultivari Getreidezüchtung Darzau
  16. Die freien Bäcker
  17. Evangelischer Dienst auf dem Land (EDL)
  18. EQUIVITA Scientific Committee
  19. FIAN
  20. Forschung und Züchtung in der Landbauschule Dottenfelder Hof
  21. Frøsamlerne
  22. GAIA - Environmental Action and Intervention Group
  23. Gäa e.V.- Vereinigung ökologischer Landbau
  24. Getreidezüchtung Peter Kunz, Verein für Kulturpflanzenentwicklung
  25. Gen-ethisches Netzwerk
  26. GLOBAL 2000
  27. Gesellschaft für ökologische Forschung
  28. IG Nachbau – Gegen Nachbau-Gebühren
  29. IG Saatgut
  30. Katholische Landvolk Bewegung Freiburg
  31. Kein Patent auf Leben!
  32. Keine Patente auf Saatgut!
  33. Kultursaat e.V.
  34. Navdanya International
  35. Netzwerk Solidarische Landwirtschaft
  36. Nyéléni.de - Bewegung für Ernährungssouveränität
  37. Palombar - Associação de Conservação da Natureza e do Património Rural
  38. Plataforma Transgénicos Fora
  39. ProSpecieRara
  40. Public Eye
  41. Saat:gut e.V.
  42. SaatGut Keyserlingk-Institut
  43. Sativa
  44. Save our Seeds!
  45. Slow Food Deutschland
  46. Slow Food Sjælland
  47. Swissaid
  48. Umweltinstitut München
  49. Verband Katholisches Landvolk (VKL)
  50. Weltfriedensdienst
  51. WeMove Europe
  52. Zivilcourage Miesbach
  53. Zukunftsstiftung Landwirtschaft
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