More than 3000 patents on plants and 1600 patents on animals have been granted in Europe since the 1980s. Nearly 10.000 patent applications on plants and more than 5000 patents on animals have been filed, many of them are still pending. The process of patenting plants and animals started with the introduction of genetic engineering in plant production, but has meanwhile extended to conventional breeding: The EPO has already granted more than 200 patents on conventional breeding and more than 1500 patent applications have been filed, with roughly half of them still pending.
The scope of many of the patents granted by the EPO is extremely broad and often covers the whole food chain, from the seeds to the production process and the end product for consumption. For example, in 2016, patents were granted that cover conventionally bred barley, the process of brewing and the resulting beer. These patents on plants and animals are an abuse of European patent law, designed to take control of the resources needed for our daily lives.
As an example, some patent cases that have been disputed can be found below: