[Fsf-india] DuPont's Patent On Maize: Is It Biopiracy?

FN fred@bytesforall.org
Fri, 14 Feb 2003 10:02:08 +0530 (IST)

Not software but patents...
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Greenpeace / Munich, Germany / 12 February 2003

While the European Patent Office (EPO) was reconsidering a
controversial Patent on Maize currently held by the U.S.
corporation DuPont, protestors from a broad alliance of groups
joined in front of the EPO building to protest against Biopiracy
and Patents on plants and seeds. The EPO is now obliged to
consider if the DuPont Patent (EP 744888) issued in August 2000
ought to be upheld in light of objections submitted by concerned
parties, including the Mexican government, church groups and

In a symbolic action, four figures on stilts, dressed as
managers of DuPont, Monsanto, Bayer and Syngenta, the world's
largest agro-multinational, were tacking Patent clips on plants
and seeds around a three-meter globe. Other 70 activists
attempted to protect the earth's agricultural diversity from
the figures on stilts, demanding "Stop Biopiracy" in seven

The EPO Patent (EP 744888) currently covers naturally and
traditionally cultivated Maize with higher oil content. Maize
with higher oil content is already cultivated in many Latin
American countries where the plant originated. The Patent holder
DuPont claims Patent rights on all products for which this Maize
in used, such as cooking oil and animal feed.

"This is daylight robbery and the EPO is helping in the theft,"
said Ulrike Brendel, Greenpeace expert on Patents. "Obviously
this Maize is not a DuPont invention but that is what they have
a nerve to claim in order to rob the people in Latin America who
have cultivated and planted Maize seeds for thousands of years.
We ask the EPO to halt this Patent right away and recognise that
the current practice of granting them clearly goes too far."

DuPont has applied for at least 250 Patents on seeds in Europe
alone, and some 40 have been granted.

In July, the Opposition Division of the EPO admitted that Maize
is not, in fact, an invention; but so far the Patent has not
been cancelled.

Up till now the EPO has granted more than 300 Patents on plants
and seeds.

At present, the EPO routinely refers to the controversial EU
Directive 98/44/CE on the legal protection of biotechnological
inventions. The practice is considered questionable as the new
EU Patent directive contradicts the legal foundation of the EPO,
which is the European Patent Convention that forbids the
Patenting of plant varieties and animal species.

As 11 countries now belonging to the EPO are not members of the
European Union, many experts believe the EPO cannot apply the EU

Furthermore, the majority of EU member states is still
struggling with the directive and has not yet implemented it.

For more, go to

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