This week a global action is started against patents on seed, plants, farm animals and parts thereof including gene sequences and food. Over 100 organisations from all over the world are alerting the public and warning of the dangers of increasing monopoly rights on basic resources of farm and food production. Seed, plants and farm animals as well as food production chains are becoming progressively subject to monopoly rights imposed by worldwide patents. More and more patents have been filed, even including claims on conventional breeding of plants and animals.
The EU Commission is planning to adopt large parts of the European Food Authority’s (EFSA) guidelines on the risk assessment of genetically engineered plants as an official part of EU regulations. The EFSA guidelines are controversial and widely disputed in public. They have been heavily criticized from many sides. Nevertheless, in future large parts of these guidelines might become the official interpretation of EU legislation in this context. EU regulations (e.g.
Today the European Patent Office in Munich is granting a patent on a cloning technology (EP 1711599) that was used by the team working with the controversial Korean researcher Hwang Woo-Suk. In comparison to the original application, the patent as granted is substantially reduced and now only covers the medium used for growing the cells. The patent was applied for in 2004 and originally claimed methods for producing and using of human embryos for the production of embryonic stem cells.
Experts at Testbiotech have filed a statement to the EU Commission on an opinion given by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The statement concerns the genetically engineered oilseed rape GT73 produced by the US company Monsanto. This oilseed rape is genetically engineered to tolerate the herbicide glyphosate (also known under its brand name Roundup). The EFSA delivered a favourable opinion to allow further imports for use in the food chain. GT73 was assessed once before by the EFSA in 2004 (for details see: EFSA GMO watch, link).