Last December the European Parliament passed a resolution asking for a ban on patents on plants derived from traditional selection. Surprised by the European Office’s decision to grant these patents, its members were hoping for an urgent clarification of existing EU legislation and protection of producers’ access to biological materials.
Previously, in 2012, the Parliament had placed a number of constraints on the patentability of ‘essentially biological processes,’ thus moving in the direction of a substantial ban on patents on traditional varieties, accessions and ecotypes. Yet all this does not seem to have stopped the multinationals, which are applying for an increasing number of patents on fruit, vegetables and livestock, and have control not only over prices but also over what may be cultivated and consumed. Syngenta, for example, was recently granted a patent for a new tomato variety with a high content of flavonols.
‘World agriculture,’ declares Carlo Petrini in a video shot at the Slow Food Fair, ‘needs to be freed from the intrusiveness of patents in the products of nature. Seeds are the property of communities and peoples. They cannot be private property. We’ll have to work hard to stop the percentage of seeds owned by the multinationals from growing. Today 80% of the world’s seeds belong to multinationals. This is outright violence. It’s necessary to build local seed banks accessible to all farmers in which they can exchange and grow their seeds. If this figure of 80% grows to 100%, that will spell the end for the story of agriculture because there will be no agriculture any more.’
Any further abuse of our agriculture and our small farmers has to be stopped immediately. To achieve this, Slow Food has adhered to the No To Patents On Life campaign with the No Patents On Seeds! coalition and numerous other international NGOs.