Parliament wants to protect European breeders from excessive patent protection, which it believes could stifle innovation and progress. In a non-binding resolution adopted on Thursday, it says products such as anti-carcinogenic broccoli or high-yield dairy cows, produced by conventional breeding techniques, should not be patented.

MEPs recognise that patents are an important tool for the transfer of technology but stress  that "excessively broad patent protection can hamper innovation and progress and become detrimental to small and medium breeders by blocking access to animal and plant genetic resources".

The non-legislative resolution was 354 votes to 192, with 22 abstentions.

Exemptions for conventional breeding

Parliament calls on the European Patent Office to exclude products derived from conventional breeding and all conventional breeding methods from patenting.  It also wants the Commission and the Member States to ensure that the EU continues to exempt breeders from its patent law on plant and animal breeding.

Concern for the impact on industry

MEPs remind the Commission of its duty to report annually “on the development and implications of patent law in the field of biotechnology and genetic engineering”, pointing out that it has not published any reports since 2005.  They want the Commission's next report to examine the impact of the patenting of breeding methods on the breeding and food industry.

Procedure: Motion for a resolution