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4-Patents: Patent granted on Buiscuits, dough and wheat



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Greenpeace Press Release
Patent granted on biscuits, dough and wheat
Federal Government urged to stop gene patents now

Hamburg/Berlin, 23 June 2003 - Research by Greenpeace has revealed that
biscuits and dough produced from a specific variety of wheat, as well as
the plants themselves, are now patented. The patent granted to the Monsanto
company in May (EP 445929) covers wheat used "to permit the manufacture of
crisp farinaceous edible products such as biscuits and the like". To
produce its "invention", Monsanto crossed a traditional Indian variety of
wheat with other plants, which are conventionally bred, not genetically
modified. Monsanto simply uses the genes which already exist naturally in
the plants.

"This case illustrates the scale already reached in the patenting of life.
Not only genetically modified organisms but plants and animals bred using
conventional techniques are now being patented if their genes are found to
be of economic interest", warns Christoph Then, a patent expert. "Monsanto
is targeting and stealing from Indian farmers who have cultured this
specific variety of wheat for centuries. This patent demonstrates the
urgent need for a general legal ban on the patenting of genes, live
organisms and seeds."

By owning this kind of patent, in the future, Monsanto could potentially
take legal action not only against farmers but also against bakeries,
confectioners and supermarkets if they produce or sell biscuits or cakes
made from patented wheat. Over the coming weeks, Greenpeace will prepare to
file an objection to the patent. The European Patent Office in Munich
grants patents on genes and live organisms in line with a European
directive which was adopted in 1998, and which has proved highly
controversial throughout the EU.

'Monsanto are engaged in the theft of a global commons and patent lawyers
are only too happy to take a big fat cut of the big fat financial cake that
Monsanto are stealing in return for conferring some appearance of legality
to this theft. Sharp lawyers can call it what they like but we see it
clearly as theft of public property and it must be stopped.' said
Greenpeace spokesperson (Mr) Lindsay Keenan.

He continued, 'Monsanto are a company with an absolutely disgraceful record
of causing environmental and human health damage from its past products
including PCBs and other chemicals. It is still responsible for damages in
legal actions about many such matters. However instead of accepting
liability and cleaning up the damage it has already caused here it comes
again with its razor sharp lawyers exploiting every legal loophole and
badly written law to push unwanted GE seeds, to sue farmers and now trying
to steal the rights to existing plants and even to the flours and biscuits
made from them.'

The European Patent Office grants patents on gene sequences and life forms
based on European Patent Directive 98/44, which is under heavy discussion
in the EU. A European wide representative opinion poll which was done for
Greenpeace, shows how broad the opposition against patents on life actually
is: Only 3% of the 4559 people asked were of the opinion that patents on
life should be granted any further (full details available).

*Information for editors:
*Dr. Christoph Then , Greenpeace Patent Expert : + 49 171-8780 832 Björn
Jettka, Media Officer, +49 171-8780 778 Lindsay Keenan, Greenpeace Genetic
Engineering Campaigner, ++ 49 171 505 2896