Safeguard farmers’ traditional plant breeding rights

This week the European Parliament has voted in favour of a resolution banning the patenting of products obtained by conventional breeding techniques, such as crossing.

Member of the European Parliament (MEPs) note that plant breeding is an innovative process practised by farmers and farming communities since the birth of agriculture. They argue that access to biological plant material is vital to encourage innovation and the development of new varieties to ensure global food security, tackle climate change and to prevent monopolies.

MEPs, surprised by the European Patent Office decision to allow patents on such products, call on the EU Commission to clarify existing EU rules as a matter of urgency and protect plant breeders’ access to biological material.

Products obtained from essentially biological processes, such as plants, seeds, native traits or genes, should therefore be excluded from patentability, they insist, in a resolution approved by 413 votes to 86 , with 28 abstentions

Already in 2012 a resolution by the European Parliament had placed various restrictions on the patentability of “essential biological processes,” moving towards a substantial ban on the patentability of traditional varieties, accessions and ecotypes.

Patentability limits the freedom of small-scale farmers, Slow Food welcome the direction the European Parliament is taking.

Read Slow Food’s position paper on seeds.

 

Marta Messa

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