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Patent controversy : New dispute over the rights to bred varieties of plants and animals

melons, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, and cucumbers - can be fruit and vegetable an invention? For many years, the European patent office (EPO) granted patents on

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Patent controversy : New dispute over the rights to bred varieties of plants and animals

melons, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, and cucumbers - can be fruit and vegetable an invention? For many years, the European patent office (EPO) granted patents on conventionally bred plants. In 2017, it seemed as if that's the end. But now the debate starts Again. At its regular meeting on Wednesday and Thursday, the Board of Directors of the European patent organisation (EPO) is involved as a Supervisory body of the EPO in Munich with the theme. Opponents have announced a Demonstration. With a giant melon and a tractor you want to pull in front of the EPO.

Why does the topic back on the table?

After getting more pronounced criticism of the patent practice at the EPO, not least from Berlin and from Brussels in 2017, the Board of Directors decided from 38 member countries, with conventional methods, such as crossing and selection, plants receive no patent protection. It seemed to be a milestone. Opponents celebrated it as a breakthrough, as in November 2018, a Patent on a long-necked, and thus easy to harvest broccoli has been revoked. But in December, a technical Board of appeal of the EPO against the Board's decision was in the case of a further method: This was not in compliance with the law. Therefore, the Board of Directors must get back to the subject of ran. Even now, when no decision is expected.

This seems to rotate in a circle - what is the Problem?

The patent law can only change the member States together in a complex process. The Board of Directors, decides only the boards of Appeal, can the attack - and to this point of view, the auditors are bound. The auditor should not give in to the consequence, even if the policy and the Board of Directors want it to be - patents on the new varieties. Opponents criticize the EPA have a financial interest: It is financed by the patent fees.

Why fight the opponent against patents on new varieties?

It goes to, in their view, to market power and monopolies - and thus the livelihoods of smaller farmers and growers. "It is for traditional plant breeders increasingly to the Problem of access to biological diversity, the need for new varieties, complicated by patents, or block is more expensive," says Christoph Then from the group No patents on seeds. Because patented plants and animals are not allowed against the money will be used. Of large corporations, mainly benefited the Then says. Also, farmers and consumers came into ever-greater dependency. "It is to the detriment of society."

Why patented the EPA, these plants and animals?

The EPA has according to own statements the mission of innovations in all areas of technology, patenting, even if they plants or animals. The European patent Convention and the Bio-patent Directive prohibits patents on conventional breeding methods. The EPA considered but for a long time, the resulting plants as patentable if they met criteria such as novelty. In a landmark decision, the EPO granted patents on a - supposedly - healthy Super-broccoli and a shriveled tomato that is particularly suitable for Ketchup. The tomato decision, the Federal Ministry of justice was not happy: The German law exclude such patents since 2013.

How many patents on plants are there?

According to the EPA there are approximately 80 patents on conventionally bred plants, or products made from them. Patent opponents are talking of around 200 patents, because they count with chemical methods bred plant. While random mutations in the genome are produced and cheap variants of picked out. According to the EPA, this is a technical process, according to opponents of conventional breeding. Just for the Oktoberfest in 2018 it was a so-grown barley and brewed beer - the Patent remained in place.

What is with patents on animals bred ?

Conventionally bred animals were almost never asked for a patent. It is also much less patents on animals as on plants registered. "No one gets patented Schnitzel on the plate," said EPO spokesman Rainer Osterwalder.

What is with genetically modified plants and animals?

you are allowed to be patented. The enemy had turned at first against it. Here's a technical process but not the focus. Also with the Genschere Crispr-made living organisms are patentable. The European court of justice has ruled in the past year, this method falls under genetic engineering.

What is the meaning of the patent for the consumers?

First of all: nothing. But it could give an impact on the price - and possibly also the selection for consumers in the Store.

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(Reuters)

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