GENET archive


4-Patents: Association of European Consumers upset over plant patents

-------------------------- GENET-news ---------------------------

TITLE:  European consumers upset over the first European GMO
SOURCE: Association of European Consumers, AEC, Press Release
DATE:   January 12, 2000

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European consumers upset over the first European GMO patent

The patent confirmed on Dec. 20, 1999 by the European Patent
Office, EPO, to Novartis on a gene sequence will get the effect
that the market for GMO-food will collapse completely in Europe.
A suicide for the GMO companies will be the effect instead of
success as they aimed.

The controversial decision to allow patents on genetically
modified crops is rejected as a moral mistake by 26 Consumer
Organisations united in the Association of European Consumers.
The enlarged board of appeal of the European Patent Office should
not have overturned the previous judgement of the lower appeals
board and must now explain to European consumers how the lobby of
the gene technology industry have been able to influence EPO to
change their opinion.

Mr Bengt Ingerstam, the AEC president, says patents on genes in
food crops and animals are fundamentally wrong. It limits plant
and animal breeding and amounts to a sell-off were
commercialisation of the human body is the next logical step.

- There will be absolutely no acceptance of genetically
manipulated foods in Europe as long as corporations can patent
such products. No reasonable debate can be held with consumers as
long as GMO patents exist. The situation is absurd in the U.S.
were patent lawyers are the only ones making money from GMO,
because of the legal mess. So called life-science corporations
and seed companies are constantly suing each other over alleged
infringements of obscure patents.

- For European consumers who wish to eat healthy and natural
food, patents on genes are abhorrent. We support farmers who
traditionally save and develop seed. This cultural tradition is
challenged when corporations gain control over the agro-genetic
resources. Also, farmers are already sued by the GMO seed giants
for supposedly planting GMO seeds, when in fact novel genes may
cause pollination by pollen spread by the wind. It is obvious
that gene technology patents are a fraud since it is impossible
to successfully license such products or avoid contamination,
according to Mr Bengt Ingerstam.

AEC urges the European Parliament to investigate how its control
over the European Patent Office can be strengthened. To increase
the public's trust in the EPO it must be transformed into a
proper institution of the European Community. Also, a recent
proposal from the EPO president is extremely worrying as it would
reduce the amount of time examiners have available to deal with
each case. This would have a very serious impact on the quality
of the work of the EPO staff.

AEC points out that the International Court of Justice at The
Hague can issue an 'Advisory Opinion' about gene technology
patents if a United Nation agency (such as UNESCO) asks for this.
A further option is to get the World Trade Organisation to review
and amend its intellectual property rules (TRIPs) so that
countries may be allowed to not implement controversial gene
patent legislation.

The Association of European Consumers, AEC, was founded in May,
1999. AEC strives to strengthen consumers' influence in society
and to gain recognition for the important role consumers play in
choosing the direction of social development. AEC also strives to
ensure the diffusion of vital, objective information and
practical knowledge that help consumers make informed, rational
and responsible choices, thereby guiding society into an
ethically principled, ecologically sound and harmonious course of
development. AEC currently has 26 member organisation from 10
European countries.

Contact: Mr Bengt Ingerstam, AEC President
cellular: +46 70 604 77 25
or AEC office in Brussels c/o L'Observatoire social europien
Email: attention Paola Furno at
13 Rue PE Janson B-1050 Bruxelles
Tel 32-2-537 19 71
Fax 32-2-539 28 08

Association of European Consumers, AECc/o Swedish Consumer Coalition Box 88
S-577 22 Hultsfred, Swedentel: +46 495 498 34, +46 495 413 15
mobil: +46 70 604 77 2
fax: +46 495 498 35
Homepage: (click on EU flag+AEC)


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