The Petition Against Seed Patents – How Patent Law Threatens Biodiversity


One example of such a patent is malting barley “which has random genetic abnormalities,” says Christoph Then. The plant was patented and so was the beer that was made from it.

Problem: In crop production, biodiversity is needed by all breeders to develop new varieties, says Tadas. This is also guaranteed by the protection of plant varieties.

Each breeder has his own strain, but each can breed and produce even better strains.

Then Christopher

This principle terminates patent law. More and more monopolies are emerging in conventional breeding. “It prevents breeding,” meaning access to biodiversity, Tad says. “Or buyout, if the breeder is willing to sign license agreements,” says Tad.

Increasingly dependent on a few corporations

For agriculture, this means a change in the system: there will be fewer breeders and a few corporations that control the business, says Christoph Then.

People are becoming more and more dependent on a few corporations, which ultimately affects consumers as well. – Because big corporations decide what is grown and by what methods. Traditional plant breeding has become impossible.

Genetic engineering can be patented. – But big corporations are not that. It’s about patenting the biological resources that breeders need to make their plants resilient to climate change, pests and diseases, Tad says.

There are even patents for animals

Biological systems would benefit from diversity in the field and competition among breeders, but so would agriculture and ultimately consumers.

Big corporations will always sell what makes the most money and pay too little attention to environmental protection and consumer rights.

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Then Christopher

Sometimes patents are even granted to animals, Tad says. However, this happens much less often. A patent has recently been filed for fish fed on certain plants.

Alliance revoked the patent in protest. “But what we’re seeing right now is a huge increase in patents,” Tad said. “It cannot be countered with objections” – this is where politics must intervene.

The European Patent Office has recognized that conventionally bred plants are not patentable. But there is a back door to patenting gene variants, Tad says. “This back door must be closed.”

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