New patent granted for Monsanto's "super broccoli

No patents on seeds! prepares protest for the 50th anniversary of the European Patent Office

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On September 13, 2023, the European Patent Office (EPO) granted a patent on conventionally bred broccoli varieties with an increased content of health-promoting bitter compounds (glucosinulates) to the Seminis company (Bayer/ Monsanto) (EP2708115). The plants originate from a breeding with wild broccoli, which has a high content of bitter substances and is found in Sicily. The result is broccoli varieties with higher levels of certain bitter compounds, but this is neither new nor inventive.

"Back in 2002, a patent was granted for broccoli with increased levels of bitter compounds, derived from crosses with wild broccoli from Sicily. There are only minor differences between these patents, ultimately this patent on broccoli varieties was granted twice," says Johanna Eckhardt of No Patents on Seeds!

Already the first patent (EP 1069819) was used by Monsanto to claim the production of a "super broccoli", which was traded in supermarkets at higher prices. It was precisely this patent that triggered years of debate and much criticism of the patenting of conventionally bred crops. In response, the EPO contracting states decided that no such patents should be granted in the future.

"This second patent on a "super broccoli" ignores the decision of the governments of the EPO contracting states, which wanted to put an end to the patenting of conventionally bred patents," says Dagmar Urban of the ARCHE NOAH association.

The European Patent Convention (EPC) was adopted in 1972 and the Patent Office started its activities in 1973. According to Article 53b) of the EPC, patents on plant varieties and conventional plant breeding are prohibited. No Patents on Seeds! is now preparing protests to mark the EPO's 50th anniversary, which will be celebrated in Munich on October 5, 2023.

"The EPO tries to hide the breach of law behind complicated legal justifications. But these 'excuses' and 'special rules' cannot be accepted. The ban on patenting plant varieties protects the interests of the public, plant breeding, agriculture, food production and consumers*. Therefore, these patents must be stopped," says Christoph Then of No Patents on Seeds, who has been dealing with the EPO's case law for years.

Note: This article has been translated using a computer system without human intervention. LUMITOS offers these automatic translations to present a wider range of current news. Since this article has been translated with automatic translation, it is possible that it contains errors in vocabulary, syntax or grammar. The original article in German can be found here.

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