Patent granted on screening biodiversity in soybean plants for climate adaptation and disease resistance.
26 February 2014, Munich – Today the European Patent Office in Munich (EPO) is granting a patent for Monsanto on screening and selecting for soybean plants being adapted to certain climate zones (EP 2134870). The plants are supposed to show a higher yield under various environmental conditions. The soybeans concerned are wild and cultivated species stemming from Asia and Australia. According to the patent more than 250 plants stemming from “exotic” species were screened for biodiversity in climate adaption and variations in maturity.
The usage of hundreds of DNA sequences representing genetic variations are claimed by Monsanto for future conventional breeding in soybeans. The patent is also applied in other regions such as the US, Canada, China and South Africa, however the EPO seems to be the first to grant this scandalous patent. (www.no-patents-on-seeds.org)
70% of all commercial soybean cultivated in the US is dependent on 6 varieties: Mandarin, Manchu, Mandarin Ottawa, Richland, AK, Mukden.
This narrow genetic base makes the soy cultivation vulnerable to pests and disease. Through the patent on screening soybean diversity, Monsanto plans to monopolize the soy biodiversity in Asia.
Asia is home to soybean. What Monsanto calls “exotic” varieties are varieties native to Asia. According to Tommy Carter of USDA: ”Chinese farmers domesticated soybeans from 30 to 50 centuries ago. If we could understand how those ancient Chinese farmers did it, we could use similar techniques to get better research results from wild Asian varieties”.
The soybean biopiracy follows an earlier case of Biopiracy of Indian wheat which the Research Foundation for Science Technology and Ecology had challenged in the European office along with other groups. The Biopiracy patent on wheat was subsequently withdrawn. This patent on the Biopiracy of Soybean also needs to be withdrawn.
Monsanto and the other 4 gene giants have taken more than 1,500 patents on climate resilient traits in crops (“Biopiracy of Climate resilient crops” – Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology – 2009).
The Indian patent office rejected a Monsanto patent on climate resilient crops.
It is time for the EPO to follow India’s examples and stop granting patents for Biopiracy.
It is time for the US government to stop issuing trade threats to India for ensuring that patents are not given for Biopiracy and frivolous and trivial modifications.
It is time for the International Community to complete the incomplete review of the Monsanto Protection clause in the TRIPs agreement of WTO.
Most countries have called for an end to patents on life, and an end to Biopiracy.