Plant breeding: patent threat to food security? 

A European Patent Office decision to allow patents even on plant traits that are obtained by conventional breeding techniques, such as crossing, could hamper innovation and endanger global food security, warn Agriculture and Legal Affairs MEPs. On Thursday they will ask the EU Commission to clarify EU rules on patents, so as to preclude patent restrictions on plant breeders’ access to biological material and thus promote genuine innovation and fairness to small breeders.

The European Patent Office’s (EPO) Enlarged Board of Appeal decided on 25 March 2015 in the tomato (G0002/12) and broccoli (G0002/13) cases that even though essentially biological processes for the production of plants, such as crossing, cannot be patented, the resulting plants or plant material, such as a fruit, may get EU-wide protection.

Members of the Agriculture and Legal Affairs committees say that the EPO decision reflects a narrow interpretation of current EU rules - particularly of Article 53(b) of the European Patent Convention and Article 4 of the EU's Biotech directive - and call for their urgent clarification to avoid negative impact on EU's competitiveness and creation of monopolies on the food market. Parliament called on the EPO to exclude from patenting all products derived from conventional breeding already in its non-legislative resolution of 10 May 2012.

Procedure: Oral question to Commission with resolution


Specialist: Jan & Nina

Debate/vote: Thursday, 17 December

#plantbreeding #patents #tomato #broccoli #agriculture #EPO