|Protesters in Munich|
In an interesting alliance between farmers and environmentalists, there was a street protest outside the European Patent Office in Munich last week. The topic: a patent application, originally filed in 2005 by Monsanto, since sold with the rest of Monsanto's pig business to Newsham Choice Genetics.
This patent is still under review in the U.S., Australia and Mexico, but was approved [pdf] in the E.U. last year; the protest was in support of an appeal of that ruling. The most controversial part covers a test that screens for pigs with a gene that leads them to produce more meat. Reuters reports that:
Some farmers are worried that the patent could open the door to claims by the patent holder on all descendants of the "super pigs" bred after a one-time use of the process, or that it could claim a share in profits from any pigs carrying the gene.
The UK Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys insists that: "Only the selection process is patented. Neither the gene itself, its sequence, the kit used nor any animal identified by the method are protected by the patent."
But farmers are very wary, and not without reason, given the legal troubles that Percy Schmeiser had with Monsanto after they found some of their modified canola growing on his land, despite his insistence that the GE seed had contaminated his crops.
The German Agriculture Minister "has come out strongly against a European patent application for a test to check pigs for a gene that makes them produce more meat." So have the big German farming states. With that kind of opposition, this patent may not stand, at least in Europe. But the contretemps serves to remind us how legal biotechnicalities can be leveraged by corporate interests to trump basic notions of fairness and justice.
Previously on Biopolitical Times:
Posted in Animal Technologies, Biotech & Pharma, Patents & Other IP, Pete Shanks's Blog Posts
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