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4-Patents: Greenpeace closes Patent Conference in Munich

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Munich, 23 November, 2000 - Following the ongoing resistance by 
delegates of the European Patent Conference currently conveining 
in Munich to discuss the issue of "Patents on Life", Greenpeace 
today suspended the conference for the time being. This morning 
35 activists from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, 
Luxembourg, Italy and Denmark blocked the entrances to the 
venue of the conference (the European Patent Office) and prevented 
the delegations from entering. Greenpeace now calls on the 
governments to stand up to their political responsibility and 
urgently address the question of patents on life.

"The civil cervants who are in Munich to negotiate the future of 
European patent law, are consistently ignoring the protests and 
worries of the public," explained Christoph Then of Greanpeace. 
"Whilst industry lobbyists are allowed access to the conference, 
the interest of the public have been locked out. Now Greenpeace 
has locked the delegations out."

Strong criticism against the patenting of life has come from many 
sides. A current poll in Germany showed 84% of the people 
expressing opposition against patents on living organisms and their 
genes; in Austria 1,2 million citizens signed a petition against 
patents on life a few years ago. The Council of Europe in 
Strasbourg passed 2 resolutions during the past year, calling on a 
moratorium of patents on genes, plants, 
animals and parts of the human body; representations of farmers 
and European doctors have expressed their opposition as well. 
Churches and Ethic Commissions in several countries (e.g. 
France, Denmark) have rejected the idea of patents on life as 
immoral. Criticism increasingly comes also from parts of industry 
and scientists.

Even the governments and parliaments of 6 countries (Germany, 
The Netherlands, Italy, France, Belgium and Norway) have voiced 
concern. Nevertheless, their delegations at the Patent Conference 
have so far not acted accordingly. Instead they have avoided the 
issue and last Tuesday once again opted to have non-industry 
NGOs like Greenpeace be excluded.

"By closing the conference of these incompetent technocrats we 
give the governments the chance to correct their delegations 
arrogant behaviour," said Then. "We are calling on ministers to 
start the open dialouge with the public on this fundamental issue."

For more information in situ you can give the contacts of
Thomas Schweiger +49.171.8780.844
Christoph Then +49-171.8780.832