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Patent on Broccoli will not be revoked – Monsanto tightens death grip on food worldwide

Munich, 20. October 2011.
Surprisingly, the European Patent Office (EPO) has just canceled a public hearing on the controversial patent on a broccoli scheduled for 26 October. A broad range of organisations had been preparing a demonstration against patents for plants and animals on that day. The broccoli protected by the patent EP1069819 was derived by conventional breeding methods. The rights to the patents are being held by US company Monsanto. The company Syngenta which had appealed against the patent, has now surprisingly proposed the cancellation of the planned hearing. The EPO is following this request from industry. This means that the patent for the broccoli, which is derived by traditional breeding methods, will now be upheld with only minor modifications.
“The patent office as well as industry shy away from any public spotlight. They wanted to avoid the demonstration, to which even the German minister for agriculture had been invited to speak. There is no other explanation as to why the long scheduled hearing has now so suddenly been canceled. However, public protest will continue, and we will not stop mobilisation for the demonstration”, says Ruth Tippe of “No Patents on Life!”, which had been involved in the preparation of the demonstration, together with Farmers, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Misereor and others.

Patents and Vegetable Crop Diversity

Much of attention on genetically modified food patents has focused on soybeans and corn. In an interesting study, UGA law professor Paul Heald and anthropology professor Susannah Chapman focus on patents covering vegetables (excluding corn, soybeans, and canola) as well as their commercialization rates. Their study covers both plant variety protection certificates and utility patents for 42 vegetable varieties. They find that - for the most part - patents have not had a large impact on the vegetable market. They highlight their findings as follows:
  • Only 3.8% of varieties available in 2004 were ever subject to protection under patent law or the Plant Variety Protection Act (PVPA);
  • More than 16% of all vegetable varieties that have ever been patented were commercially available in 2004; and
  • In 2004, approximately 4.5% of protected, or once protected, varieties consisted of inventions that were at least twenty years old.
Read the paper here .
In an earlier paper, the pair showed that vegetable crop diversity increased in the past century -- a finding that cuts against conventional wisdom in the field. Read that paperhere .  USDA Plant Variety Protection Act

As the broccoli in question has already reached supermarket shelves in the UK, some effects of patented vegetables can now be studied. The broccoli was derived by conventional breeding methods and is supposed to contain a higher level of healthy components. The rights to the patents are being held by US company Monsanto. As of October 2011, the company exclusively markets the broccoli under the label “naturally better” and at significantly higher prices than other broccoli varieties through the retail chain Marks & Spencer. Without the assigned patent other breeders could further improve this broccoli and consumers would have a much wider choice between several producers. Now the patent will stifle further breeding developments.

Shareholder Proposal To Require Monsanto Directors’ Allegiance to the U.S. Constitution

(CSRwire) NAPA, CA. - October 23, 2008 – Harrington Investments, Inc., (HII) a socially responsible investment advisory firm, has announced the introduction of a binding amendment to Monsanto’s corporate bylaws that would require directors to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
Monsanto management is currently seeking permission from the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) to disqualify the proposal on grounds that it is vague, unfair, illegal, difficult to implement, and would violate directors fiduciary duty.  Source

Monsantos seeds are being forced on Iraqi farmers by law!:

Oct 15 08; First, it forces Iraq’s commercial farmers to use registered terminator seeds (the “protected variety”). Then it defines natural seeds as illegal (the “infringing variety”), in a classic Orwellian turn of language.
This is so incredible that it must be re-stated: the exotic genetically scrambled seeds are the “protected variety” and the indigenous seeds are the “infringing variety.”
As Jeffrey Smith explains, author of Order 81: Re-Engineering Iraqi Agriculture:
“To qualify for PVP [Plant Variety Protection], seeds have to meet the following criteria: they must be ‘new, distinct, uniform and stable’… it is impossible for the seeds developed by the people of Iraq to meet these criteria. Their seeds are not ‘new’ as they are the product of millennia of development. Nor are they ‘distinct’. The free exchange of seeds practiced for centuries ensures that characteristics are spread and shared across local varieties. And they are the opposite of ‘uniform’ and ‘stable’ by the very nature of their biodiversity.” (3)
Order 81 comes with the Orwellian title of “Plant Variety Protection.” Any self-respecting scientist knows, however, that imposing biological standardization accomplishes the exact opposite: It reduces biodiversity and threatens species. So Order 81 comes with an Orwellian title and consists of Orwellian provisions.

“In times when nearly a billion people are starving, it is simply immoral to artificially increase prices of foods through patent monopolies. Effectively, companies such as Monsanto are abusing patent laws to turn food resources into financial ventures. Should healthy food only be available for rich people?” asks Kerstin Lanje from Misereor.

For contacts please call:
Ruth Tippe, No Patents on Seeds! – Tel: +49 (0)172-8963858
Kerstin Lanje, Misereor – Tel: +49 (0) 1522959 73 50
Christoph Then, No Patents on Seeds – Tel: +49 (0) 15154638040
Note to the editors:
The demonstration is being planned in front of the EPO in Munich, Germany, on 26 October, at 11 a.m. CET. On November 8th, the EPO will hold another hearing and decide on a patent on tomatoes.


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