By Catherine Saez @ 4:21 pm

As the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food prepares to present his report today at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, a global appeal is being filed by farmers and environmental organisations against patents on plants and animals derived from conventional breeding.

In his report, Olivier de Schutter said that the commercial seed system may jeopardise the farmer seed system, and intellectual property rights on seeds might threaten biodiversity and food security.

The global appeal is being organised by the international coalition “no patents on seeds,” according to a copy of the global appeal from the Berne Declaration, and is aimed at governments, parliaments and IP offices like the European Patent Office. It warns against new patents claiming harvests and derived food products such as milk, butter and bread, according to the appeal. The appeal warns against the “Monsantosizing” of food, which refers to the potential supremacy of a few large international companies like Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta in the whole food chain.

The no patents on seeds coalition is composed of the Berne Declaration, Swissaid, Misereor, No Patents on Life, Greenpeace and the Development Fund (Norway), joined by many farmers’ organisations.

The Enlarged Board of Appeal of the EPO is currently considering a case referred to as the “ broccoli case” involving a patent referring to methods for producing new Brassica plants, in particular broccoli.

The appeal calls for a change in patent legislation and the practice of patent offices so that patents on plants and farm animals are eliminated to stem the risk of patents becoming a major threat to global food security, food sovereignty and innovation, said François Meienberg of the Berne Declaration.

The appeal has been joined by many farmers’ organisations and nongovernmental organisations and will be sent to the European Patent Office and other patent offices in Europe and worldwide in 2010, Meienberg told Intellectual Property Watch.

Meanwhile, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, speaking at the awarding of the World Food Prize in the US, advocated “investments in better seeds, training, market access, and policies that support small farmers,” according to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, where Gates has gone to work full-time. Gates announced $120 million in new agriculture grants and warned against ideological positions that threaten to split forces in the fight against hunger and poverty. On one side, he said in a press release, “there are groups that support technological solutions to increase agricultural productivity without proper regard to environmental and sustainability concerns. On the other, there are those who react negatively to any emphasis on productivity.”

SOURCE: Intellectual Property Watch


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