BRUSSEL: Copa-Cogeca opposed the use of patents on plants at a conference this week, warning that it would be a disaster for farmers and small breeders alike and would cut the number of varieties on the market.
European farming body said “the only winners” would be the multinationals if a new patent system was mainstreamed.
The move came at a conference organised by the European Patent Office (EPO) and Community Plant Variety Office (CPVR) to look at intellectual property rights in the sector.
Copa and Cogeca seed working party chairman Thor Kofoed said: “The EPO is not listening to farmers who are the end users of these products. The new system favoured by EPO would be a disaster for farmers and small breeders. Small seed breeders would disappear which would cut the number of plant varieties on the market considerably. Only the big breeders – the multinationals – who can afford to make patent applications would survive.”
Already, the EPO has authorised patents on naturally occurring products like tomatoes and broccoli even though the DNA remains a product of nature. Moreover, the EPO is ignoring latest advice made by the Commission which recommends not using patents on plants whose DNA belongs to nature and cannot be patented, says Copa-Cogeca.
“We have to stop the process now. We have the best innovative plant breeding sector in the world. The community plant varfity right (CPVR) system has worked well for 50 years, creating a good climate for breeding. It gives farmers access to an excellent and diverse range of plant varieties. Breeders in Europe currently make around 2000 varieties a year which shows how well the system works. Without this system, 90% of the varieties would disappear in the next 10 years to the economic benefit of a few multinationals. Farmers do not dare to take that chance and we can never accept a movement in that direction.”