Testbiotech is today publishing a report on companies that apply for patents on animals such as mice, dogs and apes, and on financial institutions that invest in them. These patents turn animals into a product that might be commercialised at maximum profit – just like many other patented products. Out of the ten largest global pharmaceutical corporations, Hoffmann La-Roche (and its subsidiary Genentech), Pfizer and Novartis file the highest number of relevant patent applications. According to database research, they have each applied for around 100 to 400 patents that concern animals and its usages. The companies Altor BioScience, Bionomics and Intrexon have also been included in the report because they even hold patents on genetically engineered chimpanzees.
Following a legal opposition against their European patent (EP 1364025), which claims genetically engineered chimpanzees as an „invention“, the Australian company Bionomics has decided to relinquish the controversial claims. The patent will therefore no longer cover genetically modified animals. In July 2013, the European Patent Office (EPO) granted Bionomics the patent covering animals such as pigs, sheep, dogs, cats and even chimpanzees. According to the patent, the animals were to be manipulated with human gene sequences associated with carcinogenesis.
Today the German parliament is likely to vote in favour of a permanent prohibition against the cloning of animals for food production. The German government will also be urged to push for EU-wide labelling that extends to the offspring of cloned animals and food products. Testbiotech welcomes this initiative but raises doubts about its ultimate success, since the planned free trade agreement TTIP is likely to diminish any room left for political decision making.
As several documents from Monsanto, the EU Commission and European Food Safety Authority EFSA show, cultivation of genetically engineered maize MON810 does not comply with EU regulations. The main problem is the legally required monitoring of potentially adverse environmental effects. There is also new evidence that the environmental risk assessment for MON810 carried out by EFSA was based on flawed assumptions. Maize MON810 is the only genetically engineered crop authorised for cultivation in the EU.