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 The Biopiracy patent on wheat was subsequently withdrawn. This patent on the Biopiracy of Soybean also needs to be withdrawn.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.
In a village in India’s poorest state, Bihar, farmers are growing world record amounts of rice – with no GM, and no herbicide. Is this one solution to world food shortages?
Sumant Kumar was overjoyed when he harvested his rice last year. There had been good rains in his village of Darveshpura in north-east India and he knew he could improve on the four or five tonnes per hectare that he usually managed. But every stalk he cut on his paddy field near the bank of the Sakri river seemed to weigh heavier than usual, every grain of rice was bigger and when his crop was weighed on the old village scales, even Kumar was shocked.
This was not six or even 10 or 20 tonnes. Kumar, a shy young farmer in Nalanda district of India’s poorest state Bihar, had – using only farmyard manure and without any herbicides – grown an astonishing 22.4 tonnes of rice on one hectare of land. This was a world record and with rice the staple food of more than half the world’s population of seven billion, big news.
It beat not just the 19.4 tonnes achieved by the “father of rice”, the Chinese agricultural scientist Yuan Longping, but the World Bank-funded scientists at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, and anything achieved by the biggest European and American seed and GM companies. And it was not just Sumant Kumar. Krishna, Nitish, Sanjay and Bijay, his friends and rivals in Darveshpura, all recorded over 17 tonnes, and many others in the villages around claimed to have more than doubled their usual yields. Continue reading 'India’s rice revolution'»