Monsanto's Indian Melon

Melon

In May 2011, the US company Monsanto was granted a European patent on conventionally bred melons (EP1962578). These melons which originally come from India, have a natural resistance to certain plant viruses. Using conventional breeding methods, this type of resistance was introduced to other melons and is now patented as a Monsanto “invention”. The actual plant disease, cucurbit yellow stunting disorder virus (CYSDV), has been spreading through North America, Europe and North Africa for several years. The Indian melon, which confers resistance to this virus, is registered in international seed banks as PI 313970. Monsanto can use this patent to block access to all breeding material inheriting the resistance derived from the Indian melon. The patent might discourage future breeding efforts and the development of new melon varieties. It is already known that further breeding will be necessary to produce melons that are actually protected against the plant virus. The patent was opposed by several organisations in 2012 with the support of NO PATENTS ON SEEDS!. In the first instance, the patent was revoked by the EPO in 2016 due to technical reasons. Since then an appeal has been filed against the decision, but the final outcome of this case is still pending.